Victor and Barry were co-hosts of the Scottish part of the ITV Telethon in 1988. We had to stay up all night and constantly greet members of the public who got progressively more drunk and carried larger and larger checks. It was very surreal, especially the Vitcotr and Barry Search for a Star parts, where people did things like singing with their heads inside a washing machine!
It was great fun, and actually my first time ever doing live television with people talking to me in my ear whilst trying to be witty and effervescent. No mean feat. I also remember that when day broke we had a couple of drinks and some prawn cocktail and then went on live TV again, a bit pished.
Great Expectations was a co-production between TAG (The touring arm of the Glasgow Citzens' Theatre) and the Gregory Nash Dance Group.
Six actors and six dancers performed a version of the Dickens novel and we won the Spirit of Mayfest Award at that year's festival. The production went on to tour Scotland and Northern England. I played Pip.
I really enjoyed this show because the actors really had to dance and the dancers really had to act. As I was playing the lead I had to dance a lot, and I think this show really cemented the way I think about acting, in that I think of characters in a very physical way first, and put great emphasis into the way any character moves.
I got blisters on his feet in rehearsals from all the barefoot movement, and I remember soaking them in surgical spirits to make the skin harder. (A dance tip for you!)
The cast included my Victor and Barry partner Forbes Masson, and fellow RSAMD students James Kennedy, Alasdair Galbraith and Rachel Ogilvy
I returned to Dundee Rep at the beginning of the year to play Phil McCann again in the second part of John Byrne's Slab Boys Trilogy.
Cuttin' A Rug takes place at the carpet factory's work dance. I really loved this production because there was no set to speak of, and we had a really complex set of imaginary walls and mirrors and loos that became incredibly alive. The action picks up after Phil has discovered he didn't get into art school that day.
The last last line of the play is one of my favourite ever: "You're nineteen, you've got a wardrobe full of clothes, you've got everything to live for."
Hogmanay, aka New Year's Eve, is a huge deal in Scotland and so is the TV show that rings in the bells each year.
In 1987, Victor and Barry took part in the Scottish Television spectacular. It was pretty terrifying. We had never done live television before and there was a lot to go wrong, as well as an audience of drunken Glaswegians to entertain.
Actually looking back on it now, that was the strangest part of the whole thing: finishing the show at about 1.30am on New Year's Day and everyone being so drunk and Forbes and I being totally sober.
We performed a few skits and sang a song medley that included a duet, or rather a quartet, with Moray Hunter and Jack Docherty as Don and George.
Here is an article that Forbes Masson and I wrote for some Scottish publication that I can't remember now about Babes in the Wood.
The collie and the Carnoustie question
How did we write the panto?
Well, we got a piece of paper and pen.
That’s not funny.
I know, but it used up another ten words.
Seriously though, in May of this year, Michael Boyd asked us to find a well-known panto and adapt it to suit the somewhat limited talents of Victor and Barry. (They’d very kingly agreed to star in it without seeing the script beforehand).
We eventually settled on Babes in the Wood, although it wasn’t really our first choice. We really wanted to do Jack and the Beanstalk, except Barry is afraid of heights, and Victor has a goose phobia.
They also both felt it was a little height-ist.
To cut a long story short…
What we’ve gone for is a good old-fashioned adventure story, which I think will excite both children and adults alike.
We had a great time working out all the different characters. Apart from Victor and Barry, there’s a mad scientist, a principle collie, a magic seagull, a hippy chicken as well as Mummy, Daddy and home help. The whole thing is set in that magical, faraway place… Kelvinside, and the tale begins on Christmas Eve.
It’s a very Cosmopolitan panto. That’s not really due to its content, more with the exotic locations in which it was conceived. They include: the beach in Carnoustie, Falkirk, Glasgow, Shetland, London, a chalet in St Andrews (which incidentally was totally devoid of light, heat, and water), and lots of trains. The last few words were penned in an alcohol-induced haze in a kitchen in, wait for it, Carnoustie.
Why does Carnoustie feature so prominently in the creation of this epic, you may ask. Well it’s none of your business.
The first day of rehearsals was really scary. The whole staff of the Tron… directors, stage managers, designers… and worst of all, actors, all sitting round reading our script for the first time.
Normally, the only performers we write for are Victor and Barry, so we’re not really used to intelligent, artistic criticism of out work.
Anyway, there’s no going back now. The handouts are printed, the seats are selling fast, we open on December 9 and we’d like to crawl into a little corner and come out in January when it’s all over.
Never mind how we write the panto… why did we??
Babes in the Wood had traditional elements but letting Victor and Barry loose on anything changed the landscape somewhat. It was set in Glasgow's west end, with Victor and Barry playing themselves as baby brothers, in blue and pink (I think I may have been the pink one). The show also included an evil villain who hated animals called Vivy Section (geddit?) and the Good Fairy character was a seagull who also doubled as Victor and Barry's mother who had left the home after a messy divorce.
The end song, Dreams Can Come True was included in Victor and Barry's album Hear Victor and Barry and Faint released in 1998 on Jammy Records.
This video is of us promoting the show on Glen Michael's Cavalcade. Glen is a legend, btw.
Cabaret was the opening play of the Brunton Theatre in Mussleburgh's 1987 season.
I played Cliff to Anne Smith's Sally, with Norman McCallum playing the EmCee. Little did I think I would be doing the show again in the West End and on Broadway.
I remember that the director Charles Nowosielski allowed me to go back to the Isherwood books and to add parts to Cliff's narration. I also remember my big number was Why Should I Wake Up? , which was mercifully dropped from the subsequent productions I did. I also remember slipping regularly on the remnants of the egg that my Sally Bowles dropped on the floor during the making of her Prairie Oyster.
It is startling to me to see that I have a monobrow in these pictures. It is as though Cliff Bradshaw was played by a Scottish Frida Kahlo.
A Royal Match was a community tour produced by the Brunton Theatre Company in Mussleburgh, which toured various venues in Midlothian the late summer of 1987
It was a new play about Mary Queen of Scots, written as part of the celebrations of the anniversary of the Scottish queen's death, or birth, I can't quite remember (and I think that speaks volumes). I played the English Lord Darnley and got to swan around various castles and statley homes that we performed in.
That's me straddling the canon.
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.