After a brief fling with Hamish Macbeth on the back of a tandem, actress SHARON SMALL is destined for bigger things. She speaks while on location for her first film.
Words: Eddie Gibb Photograph: Chris Blott
lF. FOR THE sake of argument. the BBC Scotland thriller Bumping the Odds is Thelma And Louise translated from America’s open roads to a Glasgow tenement, then Sharon Small must be the Susan Sarandon character. Well. at least the initials fit. But the comparison breaks down when you realise that Joseph McFadden. star of The Crow Road and Small Faces. would have to be Geena Davis’s boorish husband. Hard to imagine. really.
Written by Rona Munro. the Scottish theatre and screen writer whose credits include Ken Loach’s Ladybird, Ladybird. Bumping The Odds is the story of two young women trying to scam their way to a better life. It‘s
directed by Rob Rohrer, a former journalist who made a Channel 4 documentary about loansharks which was partly Munro’s inspira- tion to write the story.
As Terry. Small is the'wild one who leads her pal. Lynette. into the twilight world of shoplifting and loan sharking. it is a long way from the sleepy Highland village of Lochdubh. where Small recently found herself playing a rookie cop who gets to ride a tandem with Robert Carlyle in the last series of Hamish Macbeth. (As it happens. Lynette is played by Shirley Henderson. Lochdubh’s ace reporter who has also been known to roll in the heather with Hamish.)
Last week on a backstreet in Glasgow‘s Whiteinch. the two women were looking rather more streetwise in trainers and down jackets. The 90 minute drama, which will be shown in the Screen Two slot later this year. marks the first lead role for Small who has served her television apprenticeship in main- stream Scottish dramas including Taggart. Raughnecks and Dr Finlay. She was born in Glasgow. and although she grew up latterly in Fife. the locations used in Bumping The Odds feel like familiar territory.
‘1 was in a quite rough area when we lived in Glasgow and then when we moved to Fife it calmed down. there weren‘t fights and kids vandalising stuff.‘ says Small. ‘I just remember a lot more violent activity in Glasgow — and glue sniffing. When I got to Fife they didn’t even know what that was yet. When you’re in among it you fall into gang initiations — stealing and things like that. I had this tartan poncho which was brilliant for hiding things but I got caught immediately. it was just so embarrassing.‘
What did she steal‘.’ ‘Pancakes. Scotch pancakes which 1 fed to my sister. She was warned not to tell but she went home and said she had been eating pancakes and my mum sussed immediately. I never stole again after that. so it wasn’t in my blood to be bad.’
Small stayed out of trouble and went to drama school instead. Now aged 30. she has worked steadily in the theatre but is hoping that Bumping The Odds will really get her noticed. Small reckons Munro has created characters that the actresses can really get their teeth into. ‘Although Terry is ambitious and hard. she is also incredibly warm which is the joy of the writing.‘ says Small. ‘Everyone has got warmth in them to some degree but we forget that and make people from Glasgow seem very grim and grey.’
Shot with plenty of neon and bright colours. Bumping The Odds promises a very different view of the city where for once the usual array of hard men don’t get a look in. The sisters are doing it for themselves.
30 May—12 Jun 1997THE lIST 15