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No vote has saved McGlashan's neck; THE BIG INTERVIEW Comic Jack Docherty on independence, Spitting Image and leading Police Scotland.


cots comedy favourite Jack Docherty reckons Scotland voting No could mean Yes to a comeback for his most famous character.

SThe 52-year-old actor, who shot to fame as part of 90s cult Channel 4 comedy troupe Absolutely, thinks independence for Scotland would have killed off any hope of a comeback for rabid comedy nationalist McGlashan.

And regardless of how they voted, that's good news for fans of the comedy.

Edinburgh-born Jack, one sixth of the much-loved sketch troupe, appreciates the irony that his hairy caricature could live to see another rant because Scotland actually voted against independence.

Jack said: "For comedy purposes, the No vote was exactly the right result for McGlashan. If I ever wanted to do that character again, then the only way it would work is because he never gets what he wants in that respect.

"Independence would have killed him because he'd have nothing to rage against. The whole point to McGlashan is that he has to have that screaming fit about not getting what he wants.

"He'd probably still be slumped in George Square. To come that close to the thing he wanted all this time would have broken his heart."

The Anglophobic character was absent from 2013's Absolutely reunion at Glasgow's Oran Mor for Radio 4's Sketchorama but comedy aficionados will have spotted him in Channel 4 one-off Scotland In a Day, shown on the night of the referendum.

And Jack hasn't ruled out taking part in further revivals after the success of the Glasgow reunion last year.

He said: "We've talked about doing more stuff and I can never decide whether to or not.

"There's something about going back to do those old characters, most times I think I can't go back to do old material, all that Stoneybridge stuff. It always felt a bit like that was then and this is now."

I sit on fence about But we do doing it maybe and do radio " That said, walk into any branch of Fopp on a Sunday afternoon and you'll see the DVD boxsets of Absolutely next to Still Game and Rikki Fulton.

"I think one of the reasons it still resonates is that it's still relevant," said Jack. "It wasn't too topical and I think that's what dates some comedies. We didn't do politics or reference things like TV shows. It was just general characters. I think its rarity value does help, too. But why one thing works and another doesn't is impossible to answer. For some reason the characters resonated, not just in Scotland but in England, too.

"I sit on the fence a lot about Absolutely. But we do talk about doing it again. I think we'll maybe come back and do more radio but whether that's all of us remains to be seen."

One return is certain this week, though - that of BBC Scotland comedy Scot Squad, a pilot episode of which was shown in 2012.

A satirical response to the glut of cheap cops-and-cameras TV series in the schedules, it features comedy wrestler Grado, as well as River City actor Jordan Young and James Kirk.

The 2012 pilot was well received, leading to the commission of four more half-hour episodes from the Comedy Unit, makers of Limmy's Show, Gary: Tank Commander and Burnistoun. It's a part-improvised satire on Police Scotland, the merged Scottish police force.

Jack plays Chief Constable Cameron Miekelson, the head of the national force, the role currently filled in real life by Sir Stephen House.

"Who?" said Jack, when asked if he'd based his character on him.

Your real-life counterpart. "No. I have no idea who Stephen House even is. And if I did know, then I wouldn't have wanted to base my character on any real figure. We shot the pilot episode before the unification of the forces. But I'm sure Stephen's doing a cracking job," he said, chuckling. "Whoever he is."

Instead, Jack based his buffoon bobby partly on an old photograph of his late grandfather, who was also in the force, and his dad.

"My dad would say things like, 'it's just not the done thing'. But he would never explain what the done thing was and who was in control of the done thing.

"So my character's always correct, even when he's talking utter rubbish. If you do that with authority you get away with it."

In Absolutely, with Morwenna Banks, Gordon Kennedy, Peter Baikie, Moray Hunter and John Sparkes, Jack was one of the favourite faces of the off-beat Friday night comedy scene, which spawned characters like Calum Gilhooley, Shadwell and the Stoneybridge Town Council between 1989 and 1993.

The series led to a spin-off - Channel 4's Mr Don and Mr George - and Jack became a key figure in the launch of Channel 5 in 1997, hosting The Jack Docherty Show, which birthed Graham Norton's stellar chat show career after he sat in for the titular host.

His work behind the camera has seen him co-produce No Holds Bard, BBC Scotland's cute Robert Burns satire, BBC1 network sitcom The Old Guys and others like Trigger Happy TV and The Armstrong and Miller Show, as well as writing on the likes of the recent Scotland In a Day and the unforgettable Spitting Image.

the a lot Absolutely.

He said: "Performing's not my staple job. I walked away from it for a while. I'd had enough. I wasn't enjoying it as much as I had in my 20s and 30s and there's no point in doing it in that case."

talk about again. We'll comeback more." So why return? "No big reason," he said. "Maybe I missed the adulation. The screaming women. The knickers in the post. There comes a time when you need all that again."

The same might be said about another programme on Jack's CV - Spitting Image. In these days of referendums on independence and Europe, upcoming general elections, devo-max vows and Nigel Farage, there's never been a more fertile time for rubber puppets and political pot-shots.

Jack agrees. "Imagine Nigel Farage as a Spitting Image puppet. They'd make one of him with a pint on his head, sloshing permanently. They'd have Salmond as a little drummer boy in a plastic tube like they did on Scotland In a Day. Cameron? Well, they've already had Kenneth Baker as a slug on Spitting Image but it would need to be something as slimy."

As a Scot in London for 30 years, where he lives with his wife and family, Jack was disappointed not to be able to vote on September 18.

"But as I've always said, it's right and proper that the Polish people of my country should decide the future of Scotland."

He's joking, of course, delivering the line with all the acerbic satirical observation of someone who used to write Spitting Image.

"That's one gag we couldn't get into Scotland In a Day. "But seriously, everywhere I went when I was filming Scotland In a Day in August, people were talking about the referendum and when I got back to London, people were saying they needed to be energised, too, because they're worried about UKIP down here and the chance that we might be sleepwalking into some sort of nightmare."

One ripe for the old rubber puppet treatment perhaps? Absolutely.

? Scot Squad begins on Monday, October 27 on BBC1 at 10.35pm.

Happy well In you stuff thing"I sit on the fence a lot about Absolutely. But we do talk about doing it again. We'll maybe comeback and do more radio


POPULAR... Absolutely cast, Jack Docherty, Moray Hunter, Gordon Kennedy, Pete Baikie, John Sparkes and Morwenna Banks. Right, referendum aftermath in Glasgow

ARRESTING... Scot Squad's Grado, Sally Reid, Jordan Young, Jack Docherty, James Kirk and Ashley Smith

HAVING A RANT... Jack Docherty as nationalist character McGlashan in Scotland in a Day
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Oct 18, 2014
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