Currently the perfect foil for Robbie Coltrane in Cracker,
Liverpool character actor Ricky
Tomlinson is returning with series of the oilrig drama
Raiig/inccks. Eddie Gibb talked to him about Brooksi'de and building
Ask Ricky 'l‘omlinsoii jtist about any questions about
his career as an actor and. eventually. he'll
same simple point -- it beats the huildiiig tr way ofearniiig a li\ iiig. Filming the second series of
oilrig drama lx’oirg/i/iet'k.x. which required t
spend three weeks offshore on a real drilling platform. was for him jtist one big laugh. 'l'omlinson
plays the rig's :‘ook and joker-in-chief; the role he appears to play on set too. ‘Wc‘re all away lrom home and we're all
schoolboys at heart.‘ he says. ‘\\'e have a good time
and we've got a great card school. I mean.
lucky A l was a plasterer until I was 40 years of age and this [pointing to table groaning with l'r sandwiches and BBC plonk for the lt’uitg/iiit't'ks
launch] is jtrst a bonus.‘
'l'oiiilinson's break from plastering came through limo/rude. the Liverpool soap set in a suburban housing estate which launched Channel «l in 1982. As Bobby Grant —- full-time union shop steward. solid family man and more or less devout ('ati.olic. all
tempered with a sharp line in Scouse wit --
£1 11C W
Ricky Tomlinson in Roughnecks: the cook with the quip
make the 110C 115 41 'l‘oiiiliiisoii epitoinised the straps decent working- class heart. He /)(‘('(llll(’ Bobby (iraiit. and as a former trade tiiiion activist himself. 'l‘oriiliiison was hardly playing against type. He left after five years because it had ‘gone crap it wasn't real and it wasn't
be cast to
latter is a
‘I think the working-class thing is always
there. I’m never going to be the romantic
lead, but what I know I can do, I can do.
I’m a working-class guy and most of the characters I play are working-class.’
I‘ve got it
belieyable'. This would be about the time of the seigc storyline. which early llnmkrt' writer Jimmy .\lc(}o\erii has also identified as the moment when ' his interest in the soap waned. Alter 'l'oiiilinson left the soap. the trademark beard. \lL‘Cl-l'lllilliCtl specs and a preference for
unpleasantly-patterned acrylic pullovers stayed with him. But more importantly. the feel of plaster dust under the fingernails has stayed with him too. This is probably why ultra-realist film director Ken Loach's continual quest for the authentic working-class voice led him to Tomlinson‘s door for his building site tragi-comedy Riff/trill. and then again for the equally black Ruining Stories.
‘l think the working-class thing is always there.’
', agrees Tomlinson. ‘Ken Loach was interviewed ' recently on the telly and he was asked why he uses
real people. He said “you can never act class" and I
think that's right. I'm never going to be the romantic
lead. ever. l'm two inches too small. Ha. ha. That and
seven stone overweight. But what I know I can do. I . can do. I‘m a working-class guy and most ofthe characters I play are working-class. As Loachy says. i you can't act that.‘
' Tomlinson is part of that male-dominated clique of working-class Liverpool writers and actors like Bernard ‘Yosser‘ Hill. Alan Bleasdale. writer of Boys ' From The Blacks/id]. and Jimmy McGovern. who have had such an enduring inﬂuence on television drama. After working together on some classic Grant family stor'ylines. Tomlinson is now reunited with his friend McGovern for Cracker. in which he plays DCI Wise. the down-to-earth foil for Robbie Coltrane's more eloborate theories on criminal psychology. When these two big guys collide. the screen is almost unable to contain both. The comedy potential is also enormous. which is perhaps why the Cracker writers kept them apart for much of the last series
5 (Tomlinson says the pair have more scenes together
in the current series). So did filming turn into Robbie and Ricky's laugh-in?
‘He‘s a great actor to work with.‘ say Tomlinson of Coltrane. ‘He's also a fantastic stand-up comic. and I like to take the piss out of him and vice versa. He‘d crack a gag and I'll come back with one. It makes for an easy. pleasant day. How many people get up in the morning and say “I want to get to work"? Most people are like. ‘1'” have another cup of tea". Instead. Tomlinson grabs another glass of wine. tucks into a salmon sarnie and toasts ajob which definitely beats the hell out of plastering.
Rang/iriet'ks slur/s on Thurs 9 Nov on BBC I .
Print _ screening
l l l
i with playwright Sharman MacDonald,
documentary come together as an overdue reminder of a Scottish theatre
i at interesting the Traverse in her first
i she sent the script to the Bush i Theatre in London. Ten years on,
a place on the McVitie shortlist. *
By chance, BBC Scotland’s new series subtle, highly personal writing will get
of films about Scottish writers starts l a flavour of her style from Mindscapes, the half-hour film she
wrote with BBC documentary maker
i Kate Bannatyne, which kicks off the
} series called Telling Tales. These
; writer/director collaborations are a
[ hybrid of documentary and drama
writer whose work is still best known : intended to move away from the more
in England. usual ‘talking heads’ type of literary
After several unsuccessful attempts 5 profiles, according to series producer
In Mindscapes, MacDonald has created three fictional characters, including a mother figure played by Phyllida Law, drawn from her own childhood memories. The film follows MacDonald and her daughter, who play themselves, on a fictional journey from her leafy london home to a 3 beach on the west coast of Scotland, a . setting which crops up frequently in | her plays. This mixture of fantasy and
who has just been nominated for the 1995 McVitie Prize. The award nomination and dramatised
script several years ago, MacDonald’s play When I Was A Girl was eventually picked up by actor Alan Rickman after
MacDonald is working with Hickman on a film adaptation for The Winter Guest, one of four plays in the collection of scripts which earned her
Those unfamiliar with MacDonald’s
reality gives a revealing glimpse of the creative process.
‘The whole subject is about the inspiration of the land I’ve come from and the beaches that I’ve set several of my plays on,’ says MacDonald. ‘Fiction impinges on fact in all my work.’
The other Scottish writers featured in the Telling Tales series are Duncan Maclean, A.I.. Kennedy, Alison Fell and Don Patterson. A second series called In Your Face, which, confusingly, is also about Scottish writers, starts in the same week and features a new documentary about Irvine Welsh, plus repeats of films about James Kelman and Janice Galloway. (Eddie Gibb)
Telling Tales begins on Thurs 15 Nov and In Your Face starts on Mon 13 Va v, both on 8802.
The List 3- lb Nov l‘NS 87