At the 1988 Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Victor and Barry's sell-out show Victor and Barry Say Goodbye was chosen to be part of the Perrier Pick of the Fringe Season at the Donmar Warehouse in London's Covent Garden.
This was Victor and Barry's first sojourn south of the border (though they would be soon appearing south of the equator when they toured Australia) and it caused quite a storm amongst the Scottish media. It's hard to describe now, but in the eighties it was still a big deal to 'make it' in London if you lived in Scotland. And as Victor and Barry had become really succesful in a relatively short time there was much anticipation about their London debut and how they would be received (indeed even if the would be understood.)
So when Scottish TV asked to film us and our preparations for the Donmar debut we decided it would be fun to make it a sort of mockumentary in Victor and Barry's rather surreal style. Our friend Hazel Eadie, who had been in our panto the previous year at the Tron Theatre, made an appearance as a mysterious beauty, and our au pair was played by the actual room-mate we inherited when we rented a half-renovated flat in Stoke Newington from a set designer I had been working with. It is a bizarre little show culminating in some footage from the actual first perfomance. Look out for actor Richard Griffiths who was in the audience for some reason!
Victor and Barry took their new show Victor and Barry Say Goodbye to the Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh for the festival, and later in the year to the Donmar Warehouse in London where we were invited to take part in the Perrier Pick of the Fringe season. The shows at the Donmar were my West End debut.
We'd previously opened Glasgow's Mayfest with a huge sell-out show at the Theatre Royal. Here we are premiering our anthem for Vic and Baz's hometown, Glasgow, on the STV Mayfest TV show.
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.
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.
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 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.
Victor and Barry took part in a late night revue at McNally's Cabaret Club as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. I remember rushing along there after performances of Trumpets and Raspberries.
Other acts performing in the revue were Arnold Brown, Jerry Sadowitz and Mullarkey and Myers, which was made up of Neil Mullarkey and Mike Myers. Yes, that one.
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