My professional debut as an actor was an episode of the Granada TV series, Travelling Man, that I filmed in the summer holiday between my second and third years at drama school, and which was boradacst on 12th December 1984. The series starred Leigh Lawson, and I played a boy called Jamie who knew Leigh's missing son.
I had never been on a film set before, I was completely green and utterly in awe of the whole thing. And I was so utterly excited to be doing an episode of a TV show whilst still a student, and trying desperately to act cool. I thought that you had to act really small because it was television and so as a consequence I hardly moved. If it wasn't that I spoke you'd think I was a photo! I met Leigh Lawson again years later because I got to know his wife, Twiggy.
The episode was directed by Sebastian Graham-Jones and shot near Manchester. Here's the letter I got telling me about my schedule!
My friend from drama school, Forbes Masson, and I made up two characters called Victor and Barry for a college cabaret to entertain the final years drama students at the Royal Scottish academy of Music and Drama in 1982.
The act went down a storm and we began to do it outside college, mostly in small venues in Glasgow like Hallibees Cafe Cabaret just off Byres Road.
Then in 1984 we took Victor and Barry to the Edinburgh International Fringe Festival. We played in a tiny venue called the Harry Younger Hall, which the RSAMD had taken over for official college shows and other plays and cabarets that students and former students were mounting. Forbes and I did that thing that I see kids doing now and really feel for them: we handed out flyers (in character) on the Royal Mile trying to trick tourists into coming to see us.
The big thing at the Fringe is to get a good review in the Scotsman newspaper. Our review wasn't particularly good, and so when we were invited to the Fringe Club to be part of a Best of the Fest night, we decided to get our revenge. We made up new words about the bad review to the song 'Lucky Star' and the chorus was 'We can thank you, Andrew Marr, that you're not as smart as you'd like to think you are'. Rather hilariously, Andrew Marr is now one of Britian's foremost political journalists in print and on TV. Here I am on the Royal Mile, Edinburgh in 2009, talking about it on Scottish TV, and the experience of being a performer at the festival in general