Tabloid flak is flying as Channel 4 launches , its latest 'controversial' drama.
Neve McIntosh believes the nation's mental
health is safe in her hands. Words: Brian Donaldson
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YOU KNOW YOU'VE GOT A FREE PUBLICITY HIT 0N your hands when the tabloids are going potty about the latest ’disgrace’ to hit the small screens. Channel 4 (who else?) and Kudos Productions' Psycﬁos has got the non- broadsheet editors hopping mad, describing it as containing ’lurid stereotypes’, of being ’potentially damaging' and damning it as providing little more than ’unashamed soap- like entertainment’. These are just a sample of the lurid, damaging and entertaining criticisms thrown at the fictional antics of a Glasgow medical team as they deal with the daily upsets of life in a psychiatric ward.
‘When I first heard about it and heard that it was called Psychos, I thought "what is this about?“ recalls 29-year—old Neve McIntosh, who plays Dr Kate Millar. 'l was called in for a couple of auditions and to meet Andy [Cracker] Wilson the director and, having read the script, found out that the "psychos" was referring to the doctors.’
Among the medics in the cast is many people’s new Scottish tip for the top, Douglas Henshall. His character is the antithesis of McIntosh’s urbane and educated Edinburgher, Kate Millar. Dr Danny Nash is a less than smooth around the edges Glaswegian. He believes in the getting-to-know-you school of health care. She is prepared to pump the patients full of medication as a last resort. Later, all differences are shelved (or, more likely, added to) when they screw in the bogs.
The Paisley-born, Edinburgh-bred actress went into the project with eyes wide open, but the tabloid fury still surprises her. ’l've heard that it’s been slated already, but that’s simply because people don’t know enough about it yet,’ she insists. ’To a certain extent, it was something we were all worried about when we went into it because it is something you want to educate people about. I don’t think the show makes fun of it — the humour comes out of the circumstances, not out of someone going "hey hoo, you’re a nutter”. Life in any form is funny.’
And rather than a cheap sensationalist
10 THE llS'I' 29 Apr-43 May 1999
'The humour comes out of the circum- stances, not out of someone going "hey hoo, you're a nutter". Life in any form is funny!
trick or expensive risk to nab the ratings crown, McIntosh believes the series succeeds where the education system may have broken down. 'We all had a real belief that this would actually help people think differently about mental illness. We all carry this thing that, if someone is mad, then you box them away from you. Yet, when we were researching it and reading about different kinds of symptoms, you realise that, well, I feel this way a lot of the time, what makes me any different? I felt educated by it myself.’ -
McIntosh’s education in her chosen field is coming on nicely too, thanks. Having decided to become an actress when she was nineteen — ’I was working at Queensway in Leith, going "What am I doing with my life?“ — she began in theatre with two productions of The Trick Is To Keep Breathing at Glasgow’s RSAMD and Tron Theatre before the inevitable TV break with the inevitable part in Taggart.
Although cinema has brought her twenty seconds of fame in Plunkett & Mac/eane, TV seems set to be kind to her again with a role in the BBC’s turn-of-the-century production of gothic classic Gormenghast. She will star alongside heavyweights such as Richard Griffiths, lain Richardson, Zoe Wannamaker and the man who’s perhaps the granddaddy of them all. ’l'm sitting there thinking, "I’ve watched Christopher Lee since I was such and such an age”,' she says, 'and there he is on set sitting on the sofa with my mum.’
Psychos starts on Channel 4, Thu 6 May, 10pm.