Forbes Masson and I took our latest Victor and Barry show to the Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh for the duration of the festival. We had previously performed it at Glasgow's Mayfest and Cumbernauld Theatre.
Here we are singing our Edinburgh Festival Song on Scottish television's show Acropolis Now
STV also helped us with the production of an album (on cassette), also entitled Are We Too Loud?
This video was made for BSkyB and directed by our friend Ashtar Alkhirsan.
Terry Neason is an amazing singer/actress who had worked extensively with 7:84 and Wildcat theatre companies in Scotland and was now given her own show by Scottish television.
Forbes and I were brought on to be script editors and to appear each week as Victor and Barry, bringing a bit of light relief to the proceedings. We had a bit of shtick with Terry about her not letting us sing and so on the last episode of the series the three of us did a rather surreal version of It's Not Where You Start, It's Where You Finish!!
There were some amazing musical guests on the show including the bands Hue and Cry, Deacon Blue and Horse. The lovely Susie Maguire also appeared as her alter-ego Marina.
Here are Victor and Barry's best bits including their version of West Side Story with some geriatric backing dancers.
In 1987 and 1988 I was the co-presenter, with my former wife Hilary Lyon, of several of these BBC educational programmes. I can't remember exactly how many I did but I know the first one we ever did was about the Sixties and that was really fun - I got to play a dalek from Dr. Who.
There was another when I had to go up in a helicopter with two little girls from Glasgow, and one of them freaked out and wouldn't go. And then there was one about autumn. I'm sorry I can't remember anymore. I am too old.
Below is one called Colours and Reflections and was shot at the Glasgow Garden Festival in 1988. That's followed by a segment of the Sixties show.
This new play by Jack Klaff and Bob Sinfield premiered at the Theatre Workshop in Edinburgh and then toured extensively throughout Scotland. I played a young man who discovers that nuclear weapons are actually illegal according to international law, and tries to take his case to the European Court of Human Rights.
It was a really interesting idea, merging the home life of the characters, my character's obsession with his quest and flitting back and forth in time to other acts of war. The best part about it was the fun we had touring through the Highlands, playing little church halls, sometimes having to shoo sheep off the road to be able to drive to the next venue. It was such a great way to see my country.
The company included Hilary Lyon (my ex-wife), Maureen Carr, Stewart Preston, Vari Sylvester and me. It was directed by Bryan Elsley.
John Byrne's play is the first part of his Slab Boys trilogy, about the lives and loves of three young men from Paisley working in the slab room of a carpet factory in the 1950s. I played Phil McCann, a slab boy who spends his day grinding down paint on a marble slab in the slab room. But Phil is a budding artist and has applied to the Glasgow school of Art as his escape, and on the day the play takes place he will find out if he has been succesful.
The Slab Boys is a brilliant play. Its language and characters are rich and dense, and it truly is a Scottish classic. I remember it being an incredibly challenging thing for me and during the course of it I learned so much about acting and allowing yourself to come through a character. It's one of the roles that I'd like to have had another bash at but sadly the years have taken their toll and that will never happen.
Luckily though, John Byrne went on to write other plays for these characters, and I played Phil again the next year in the second instalment of the trilogy Cuttin' A Rug. The third play is Still Life, and in 2008 a fourth play, Nova Scotia, was premiered at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh.
The Slab Boys was performed at Dundee Repertory Theatre in early 1987, directed by Alan Lyddiard. the cast included Caroline Paterson (pictured), Robert Carlyle, Vince Friel, Irene Sunters, Alec Westwood and Paul Samson.
Pantomime is huge in Scotland. And by pantomime I don't mean people with white faces pretending to walk into winds. I mean panto, with men dressed up as women and they're behind you and variety acts appearing for very tenous reasons. If you don't know, then please go and google it.
Anyway, in the late eighties, as the boom in alternative cabaret raged, the Tron theatre in Glasgow decided to start doing alternative pantos. The poster byline for this version of Sleeping Beauty was 'Young, Gifted, Asleep'. It was written by Craig Fergusson (later the talk show sensation in the States) and Peter Capaldi. It premiered at the Tron Theatre, Glasgow in December 1986 with Forbes Masson and I taking our Victor and Barry characters and turning them into the pantomime dames, Victoria and Barathea. It was my first time in drag. I am not a pretty girl.
Scottish Television very kindly kept on employing me and asked me to join their soap opera Take The High Road to play evil woodcutter Jim Hunter.
It was a really good way to learn very fast about acting for the camera and also for dealing with dialogue and story lines that weren't always plausible!
The show was shot at the Gateway studios in Edinburgh, and each recording day we had to do the scenes as live, meaning that if we made a mistake we had to go back to the beginning. Also we had to finish by a certain time because the equipment or the signal was used for the nightly news (I didn't understand it at the time either). Anyway, this meant that there was always a tension to get it right and do it fast.
One day we were against the clock and I was in a scene in Mr and Mrs Blair's living room. There was some glare from the pictures hanging on the walls and so to avoid it someone placed tangerines from the fruit bowl under the pictures so they would angle up a bit. Then the scene started and Mr Blair came in rather angry, slammed the door, and loads of tangerines shot out from behind the pictures. It was insane.
They decided to live with a bit of glare!
And still more.....
In 1986, in the middle of filming Shadow of the Stone, I did a one night only Victor and Barry show at the Guilded Balloon during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
Also made by Scottish Television for the ITV network, Shadow of the Stone is a six-part series about a girl and her alter ego from a century ago who had been burned at the stake as a witch. I played her boyfriend Tom, her boyfriend in both time zones.
Shirley Henderson made her professional debut in this series, directed by Leonard White. I remember that every time I was mentioned in the script it said I was 'lurking'. I also remember meeting for the part with Leonard and assuring him that I could sail. Actually the only sailing I had done was with the Boy Scouts at Monikie Reservoir years before, but luckily on the day I had to sail in the show it was the calmest and most windless day ever, so much so that it was actually really difficult for me to capsize my little dinghy!
Below are all the episodes. The last one is the most hilarious as it includes my rescue at sea.