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She’s come a long way since ushering at the Citizens’ Theatre. But after Raindog, EastEnders and acclaim as a film and television director, CAROLINE PATERSON hasn’t lost touch with her roots. Words: Steve Cramer

here is something about ('aroline Paterson‘s sheer lack of affectation that cndears. This lady talks the talk. but can clearly walk the walk too. I’m sat having a quick chat with the passing Kate Dickie. last year's [.ist theatre

personality of the year. promisingly among the cast of

Paterson's production of John ()sborne’s The Iz'iilw'luim'r. Paterson bustles in frotn the rehearsal room of the (‘itizens' 'l‘heatre. grins. shakes hands. chucks down a packet of Bennies to show up my more affected and any Marlboro Lights. and gets on with it.

She's returning to Glasgow after being one of the founder

members. along with her ex-partner Bobbie Carlyle. of

Raindog. the now defunct young people's theatre company. which continues its television wing with Tinsel 'Iim'n. and many a one-off drama. She went on to play the significant role of Ruth l’owler in [fast/{minis and has since been acclaimed as both an actor and director in television and film.

‘.-\.s young actors. we got sick of the circuit of Scottish theatre'. she says. ‘We were saying: “Where is the stuff for young people. where‘s our music. our theatre?" We had nothing to start. We ran a cafe in the arts centre and I used to get tip at six in the morning to make pasta. We fed the cast and they'd pay for their lunch and that money went straight back into the costumes or something. It was just the same little bit of money going round and round. We got there. though. we made it.’

Before this. Paterson had been an usher at the Citizens. It was a long way from here to [firstlqule/is. an experience she values. but doesn't miss. ‘I was on it to learn. I wasn’t 18 and I didn‘t want a job for life. 1 was learning a lot of stuff about how the camera works. and l directed my first short film while I was doing it.‘

But did she enjoy it'.’ ‘Well. the money’s good. but you get the money because you have to become like a politician. You couldn't go out and get drunk with your pals. because someone would say': “Oh God. there's Ruth Fowler drunk." Conversely. you'd get people drunk and coming tip to you while you're out for the night and you always have to be graceful. I didn't want to get to the point where you just picked up your cheque. There's only so many shoes you can buy and only so many expensive places to go.‘

Paterson has had so much going on in recent times that it's hard to know exactly what we're together to chat about. but we begin with her latest television role Rehab. a BBC drama


which will go to air at roughly the time of The lz‘nn'rmim'r. Directed by Antonia Bird. with a script. prmluced in workshop with the actors by Rona Munro. this is an exploration of the lives of a group of heroin addicts undergoing a rigorous form of group-support therapy. The piece is powered by its unorthodox narration. which. Paterson explains. comes from the process fostered by Bird.

‘The actors created their own characters. so there’s a really improvised feel.‘ she says. ‘Wc worked together on it for ten months and you got a lot of control over the character you wanted to be. I played a woman with two children. who's had them taken off her because of her habit. As a mother. it'd be my worst nightmare. so it gave me a lot to work with.’

The drama favours no particular character over another. with a fragmented feel to its storytelling. and a good deal of flashback. though two of the most compelling stories are those of Paterson and fellow Scot Gary Lewis as a careworker and formerjunkie. The humanising nature of the story brings to the fore the social conditions that produce drug abuse problems. a long way from the Usual ‘hlame the junkie' approach.

Perhaps because this show is safely in the can. she seems more concerned to talk about The [Mirna/2m: But perhaps there‘s a more urgent reason for her interest. As we chat. we drift into conversation about the recent anti-war march. which we both attended. ‘lt was inspiring how many young folk there were there‘. she says. ‘But where are the political writers these days‘.’ I was struck by the parallels that this play. from the 50s. had with our times.‘

The story of Archie Rice. an ageing music hall star and his dysfunctiomtl family in the midst of the Suez crisis presents Britain as a crumbling music hall. with the same old cynical tricksters running the show. ‘We all know that there's more behind it than Saddam Hussein being the next Hitler. Anthony Eden was saying the same things about Nasser in the 50s as we're hearing now. The Americans opposed that war and made a deal with the British govemment that we‘d be seen right if we did what they said. We're still paying the bloody price for that. still doing their bidding. It's also a study of a dysfunctional family though. and I'm interested in that too. as the Rice‘s are like the Osboumes of the 5()s.’

The Entertainer, Citizens’ Theatre, Glasgow, Fri 14 Mar-Sat 5 Apr; Rehab, Wed 26 Mar, 8802, 9pm.

‘3—2/w “.r'a' 2333 THE LIST 13