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WEEKEND TV: Brendan's running ragged on Rockface.

Byline: MARION McMULLEN

THERE is no question the scenery is majestic, but the comforts of home seem a long way away when you're stuck halfway up a mountain battling gales and freezing temperatures.

Checking the daily weather forecasts simply became a matter of habit for Midlander Brendan Coyle.

He found himself in the craggy Scottish peaks facing extreme weather conditions when filming mountain-rescue drama Rockface.

"They said it was the worst weather they had had in 10 or 15 years," he reveals. "We only had something like six days clear of rain. It was very very wet, but I think it looks stunning on film and the landscape is very rugged."

BBC 1's Wednesday night special meant the Rugby butcher's son spent nearly five months working in the Highlands.

"I've got a good head for heights, but it was tough," says Brendan with a wry smile. "We went on a training course before filming and were then assigned to an ex-marine and mountain guide called Mike Tighe . . . and he really put us through our paces.

"It was a very hardy cast and everybody was up for it, you had no choice really, but the training was really intense and Mike really drove us.

"We climbed the north face of Ben Nevis the first week we were there. We'd go out in the morning and we'd be eight or nine hours walking and climbing and filming mountain rescues. We'd get back and just crash out, but it was invigorating being out in the mountains each day."

Brendan says it was a case of getting super-fit really quickly. "I've done hill-walking before, but never had to face anything like a sheer rock face," he laughs. "Every single one of us was smashed and bruised and knocked around. There were a couple of sprains but, fortunately, nothing serious.

"For insurance purposes, they had a very strong line on safety and we were surrounded by Sherpas and safety guides and they were meticulous."

Rockface was certainly a new challenge for Brendan. He grew up in Corby and first became inspired to act after seeing Shakespeare's Richard III at the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry.

The great nephew of legendary Manchester United manager Sir Matt Busby found he had more talent for acting than soccer and his TV credits include Rebel Heart, Catherine Cookson's A Glass Virgin, Thief Takers and Silent Witness.

He played EastEnder Patsy Palmer's bar-tending uncle in detective series Macready & Daughter and recently appeared alongside Kenneth Branagh in BBC 2's Second World War drama, Conspiracy.

He won an Olivier Award for The Weir and took the Irish play to Broadway and returned to the London stage earlier this year in The Dead Eye Boy.

Now based in Norfolk, Brendan is waiting to see if he will be heading back to Scotland if Rockface is developed into a TV series.

"Most of the stories based on real rescues," he says, "and we've tried to reflect the integrity of the rescue teams. I think the real teams were ready to accept us." He grins: "They didn't think we were a bunch of clowns, anyway."

CAPTION(S):

RUGGED STYLE: Brendan Coyle In Rockface, (left), Rebel Heart, (right) and Thief Takers (below)
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Mar 9, 2002
Words:535
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