Edie Reader (lett) proves that she is more than a mere Fairground Attraction, combining her musical talent with a spotot acting. while a cropped and bleached Katy Murphy (right), makes the transition from Miss Toner to taxi driver.
Guy Mitchell. the Fitties Country & Western star with the Al Capone smile. lends a touch of authenticity to the cast. almost forty years atterhis days at thetop.
Rock ‘n’ Roll is here to stay, so they say, but afterthe critical acclaim for The Majestics‘ jubilee tour in Tutti Frutti, renaissance man John Byrne. proves he’s just a country boy
at heart in his new six-parter,
Julie Morrice ran him and the crew to ground in a
cold. cold part ofAberdeen.
Go-go dancers gie it laldy at the St Clements on Thursdays and Saturdays. but its Sunday face is a barred door with a light showing through the frosted glass. A pie and pint is on offer for £1.25. between twelve and two. weekdays only.
The pub is presumably named for a nearby blackened church whose lit-up clock-face moonbeams through torn sheets of rain on to the desolate site ofa former timber yard. This is Baltic Place. a dead-end in the welter of streets around Aberdeen Harbour. Tonight. it could as easily be in Gdansk. as through the soupy twilight. a slow-moving line of figures. indistinguishable in identical waterproofs and tightly-drawn hoods. picks forward across broken cobbles and mud.
4 The List 23 February — 8 March 1990
Their journey‘s end is a trestle-table swatth in polythene and covered. courtesy of two Cockney caterers. in slices of Swiss roll. iced cakes and custard pies. regiments of tiny triangular sandwiches, and coffee steaming into polystyrene cups. Everywhere is the sound ofgushing and spattering water. It is halfpast four and already dark. A hundred yards away a number 14 bus. as unexpected as a showboat ablaze with light. sails round the corner and hisses down the road to Footdee.
John Byrne half-jokingly describes Your ( ‘heatin‘ Hear! as ‘film noir‘. Dark it certainly is. Much ofit has been shot during long. cold evenings at a time of year when camera-crews are more accustomed to cosy studios. The crew have been filming since September. They say this is the worst it has been: ‘a wet night-shoot is just the end.‘ Steaming up the windows of a flotilla of large cars. we wait for something to happen. Nigel. the BBC‘s stills photographer. has done it all before. Often. ‘l‘ve seen directors standing at four in the
morning with six inches of rainwater
round their feet saying. ‘We‘ll just hang on a bit longer and see if it clears up.‘
'YOIJI‘ cheatin' heart Will
make you weep'
Byrne is doing a Hitchcock. ‘I feel like I‘m wearing some kind of hat.‘ he mutters. cautiously patting his
carefully-matted hair. Clad in a long-sleeved semmit. once but no longer white. and sporting a set of fingernails you could grow tatties under. he is dressed to play a bit-part in hisown drama.
[I is the logical conclusion of his interest. bordering on the fanatical. in all aspects ofthe film-making process. Not content with writing. casting and selecting locations. it seems he wants control down to the last smear ofmake-up. Yes. he says. he likes the idea that the finished picture. unlike a play. is all decided. complete. incontrovertibly in the can.
In the last three or four years The Slab Boys and their Paisley partners have executed a disorganised tour of Scotland‘s theatres. turning up in an amateur show in Irvine one night and a professional production in Edinburgh the next. Byrne is far from unhappy at the fate ofhis trilogy. originally performed at the 'l‘raverse between 1978 and 1982.1 enjoyed the [Edinburgh] Lyceum production.‘ he says. ‘It was very flattering. It shows it‘s become a standard work when it‘s being done by rep companies.‘ Married to neither theatre nor television. John Byrne can keep both of them guessing. lle misses theatre. he says. but. for the moment at least. television has him in its thrall. Following Your ('heatin' Heart. the cinema beckons. ‘To get a chance to write for the big screen is something I‘ll jump at. That will be total
‘You should come out of a film feeling that you‘ve seen all the corners of the room. seen in their pockets.‘ Talking of television and cinema. Byrne never mentions writing. as such. but talks ofthe process as a whole. Film seems to give him the chance to make his statement in a complete and entirely satisfying way. The excruciatingly slow process of filming; the building up of tiny components — a gesture. a word. the colour ofa shirt . which is suddenly right. then captured forever; that means of communicating is perhaps closer to Byrne the painter than the less controllable medium of the theatre.
‘There is nothing remotely precious about telly. It‘s one ofthe truly vulgar arts.‘ Byrne speaks with approval. a little bemused that his ‘view of the world goes into a lot of people‘s homes. Well. several dozen homes.‘ Ubiquity may please him — ‘There‘s no reason why people with no llighers can‘t enjoy it just as much; in fact they might enjoy it more.‘ — but there is nothing ofthe evangelist in him. his is essentially a private art. If people want to watch it. that‘s up to them.
If 'l‘utti Frutli was humour spiked with tragedy. Your ( ‘heutin' Heart is darker still. ‘darker. more direct and more economical.‘ says Byrne. ‘lt is one woman‘s story. Although it‘s got many layers to it. all the other characters are caught up in the same story.‘ He nods gruffly across the