The latest from the stable of Scottish drama series on television is Scottish Television‘s Bookie. Actors Maurice Roeves and John Hannah discuss thelr parts
With Tutti Frutti now at the end of its second showing. and Scottish-grown drama enjoying unprecedented exposure on the box this winter. Bookie. a three part series by The Charmer author. Allan Prior. is setting out to become an even stronger commercial success.
It was shot on location in Glasgow and at Ayr Race Course. and its hero is Danny Dawson. a tough. businessman and bookmaker. played by Maurice Roeves. looking nothing like Vincent. the manic guitarist he played in Tutti Frutti. Alongside him is John Hannah. acclaimed in Channel Four‘s thriller Brand. and now playing the part of Danny‘s son Johnny. a reluctant initiate in his father‘s profession.
Bookie started off as a one-offTV play with Robert Urquhart in the Roe'ves role. but now. with a prime-time slot on the ITV network. it is hoped it could take off and become a long running series. If it does. it will be following in the footsteps of the ever popular Taggart. and an indication perhaps ofTV‘s increasing fascination with Scottish existence as some new form of ‘streetlife‘ to be discovered. now that Minder and EastEnders have said everything that can be said about London.
But if the trend so far has been for low-life — the Glasgow housing estates of the BBC‘s recent series of Scottish plays. or the similar sounding background of BBC‘s The
with Stephanie Billen.
Blues — Playingfor Real (a yet to be broadcast drama series about the fortunes of a Subbuteo team. which it is clearly hoped will be able to follow up the success of Tutti Frutti) — Bookie is about a different Scotland again.
‘A Scottish-Chekhovian Dallas.‘ grins Maurice Roéves. ordering another coffee from the bemused waiter in the Cavendish Hotel‘s ‘gallery lounge.‘ I have just been told the same thing by John Hannah sitting in Soho‘s Pollo Bar. ‘Ask Maurice about thatone. . .‘ It‘s clearly a studio joke but one with a grain of truth. Danny is no pauper and his money is an essential accompaniment to his flamboyant tastes and his ‘eye for the ladies.‘ ‘I had a few passionate moments to play from time to time — and I haven‘t had that in a long while.‘ admits Roeves. The part was a welcome Change for Roeves in more ways than one. ‘I think Danny‘s a great guy. and it was good to have a healthy— physically and mentally healthy — person to play instead of all these disturbed people I seem to get.‘ But he was concerned not to make him unbelievable. ‘I didn‘t want him to become this super commercical hero who was perfect at everything. for example there have got to be things in him that were the reason for his divorce. why his wife left him . . .‘
For some viewers, his job alone will make him less than a nice guy.
but Roeves is as benignly tolerant of the gambling element ofthe story as Danny is himself. ‘A lot ofpeople criticise him for ruining people‘s lives by encouraging gambling. but he justifies it by saying that they‘ll always gamble and if they don‘t do it in his shop they‘ll do it somewhere else. Basically he is a businessman who runs a good business. and there is the other side of him. when Mrs Reilly comes in and her husband‘s in hospital and he slips her a tenner. His bark‘s worse than his bite.‘
Bookie is not afraid to venture into the seedier side of the business. and the dirty tricks that can be played. but its hero seems to be able to fend for himself— a quality of self-preservation which is likely to provoke mixed reactions of admiration and suspicion. ‘He is able to look after himself and there are one or two instances where there are the racketeers and he is able to go up and have a quiet word with them. and they back off. And you think “what is it about Danny that makes them back off?“ He says stop it and they stop it. So there is an air of mystery about him. He‘s a family man. but he‘s split up from his wife. and he‘s a man of principle. but he‘s not old-fashioned because he‘s been through the Sixties.‘
John Hannah probably sees his own character in a worse light than Roeves would see it. and it was something ofa challenge to work into the part some of his own feelings
N H. J». ("a «~54 isn't”. Air'ﬁuwzﬁ _“
uh ’.§\&$;"3~§. 9m _.
'2 3 _. " \ about the gambling system and Johnny‘s leanings towards it. ‘The Stock Exchange is just gambling really isn‘t it. albeit with a bit more information and with people usually making a lot of money out ofit. And betting on horses is the same thing. The whole capitalist system sets up this idea of the rich being allowed to exist because you. as a non-rich person. could one day be rich through doing the pools. or gambling . . .Gambling‘s part ofthe capitalist status quo - end of statement!‘
So why take the part in the first place? ‘The reason I decided to take it was that I thought. ifI don‘t take it. somebody else who was in favour of it might. And what I tried to do was to make this character quite unattractive. I mean everyone looks up to people with money and they are respected as pillars of this society when in fact they are probably thieves or their ancestors were thieves or traitors or murderers. Most ofthe Royal Family are related to a murderer somewhere back in
Maurice Roeves in Bookie.
time . . . So most people who are
10 The List [9 l’cb — 3 Mar 1988