Interview: Jack Docherty on filming in Glasgow, David Bowie and his shows at Oran Mor

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
Following a sell-out run at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Jack Docherty, the BAFTA award-winning star of Scot Squad and Absolutely, is taking his critically-acclaimed show David Bowie & Me to Oran Mor in the West End on Sunday and Monday as part of a tour that also includes East Kilbride Arts Centre on Wednesday 15 May.

The comedian, author, actor and writer uses his time spent with Bowie on The Jack Docherty Show in 1997 as a jumping off point to take audiences through topics from first love, hedonism, mortality and why you should always meet your heroes. From AI to culture wars, families to teenage years, David Bowie and Me – Parallel Lives is an evening of comedy and storytelling.

GlasgowWorld spoke to Jack Docherty ahead of his Glasgow gigs.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

With so many other aspects of your career then what's the emphasis to still stand up on the stage and tell your story?

I just really enjoy live performing. I didn't do it for such a long time. I gave up live performing for about 20 years, and then I came back to it via [Scot Squad character ] the Chief. I thought, well, I'll do the Chief live and then I got a taste for it again.

I love the Fringe festival and whenever I do a show there that works I take it out on the road. I want to keep doing other types of shows and keeping my options open so that I’m not just know for the chief. So, that’s me out on the road.

What was the idea behind this show, how did the writing start?

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

It was a glimmer of an idea, somebody came to me and said that they had found the clip of me interviewing David Bowie on YouTube, and I thought it'd be quite interesting to have that playing in the background whilst I'm talking about other stories. So that became the jumping off point.

And then I went back in time and thought about my connection to Bowie when I was a teenager, and that just got me into comedy about growing up in the seventies and eighties, stuff about my grandparents and my parents, falling in love for the first time and how different life was before the internet.

It was a way to unlock comedy, stories and pieces about the past and also just about the obsession of being a fan. So yeah, it was just a way of unlocking comedy. I say that confidently, but certainly people laughed at it at the festival, so hopefully they will in Glasgow as well.

When I talk to Glasgow bands from the 70s and 80s, they often mention going to see artists like Bowie at the Apollo and the Barrowland and how that helped them believe they could propel themselves onto the stage too. Who inspired you to think that comedy could be your thing?

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Initially, while I loved comedy, you would see it on the television like Monty Python and that seemed impossible, there was no career paths. But then I would go to the Edinburgh festival and I remember when I was a schoolboy seeing Ron Atkinson and Richard Curtis doing a show together in some tiny venue. I started to believe that you could do this yourself, you could put on your own show.

I went to see Radio Active, which Angus Deayton and Geoffrey Perkins in it and that was the formative time when I was going to the Fringe and starting to think this is possible. It was around the same time as punk where there was this whole ethos that anyone can do this so that resonated with me and it kicked off from there. I’m finding my way back to some of that period with this show.

Do you find that the audience for your live shows have lots of different entry points to your career, from Absolutely to the Jack Docherty Show, Scot Squad and everything in between?

Yeah, people know Absolutely or they remember the chat show days, radio stuff, the festival, then there’s a lot of Scot Squad people. So that's quite interesting that they’re turning up not quite knowing what to expect.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

I want to surprise people. I was talking to [Absolutely sketch show colleague] Moray Hunter about this and he thinks I jump around too much. He thinks I should get my character and stick to it. I’m taking The Chief out and will do a show at the Edinburgh Fringe this year but I also want to do different stuff.

Jack Docherty brings his one-man show to Glasgow (Pic: Alan Peebles)Jack Docherty brings his one-man show to Glasgow (Pic: Alan Peebles)
Jack Docherty brings his one-man show to Glasgow (Pic: Alan Peebles)

You grew up in Edinburgh but have you spent much time in Glasgow?

Well, I worked for the BBC at Queen Margaret Drive in the early 2000s so I lived in Glasgow for a while. I actually probably know Glasgow better than I know Edinburgh these days. It was Byres Road and Ubiquitous Chip for me back then and across the West End.

Everything is so accessible in Glasgow, I would come home from work and spot that a big band was playing somewhere in town and be able to get there in 20 minutes, which you can’t do in London.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

I don’t know the Southside as well, I was filming for Scot Squad in Pollok Park and it was the first time I had been there, it was really nice. I am trying to get to new bits of Glasgow but as an old man now from Edinburgh the West End suits me and that’s where Oran Mor is so it all fits.

What about filming in the wild in Glasgow in your police uniform for Scot Squad, was that an interesting experience?

That could be quite fun, when you are out and about in some areas in the full regalia. Every now and again we would shoot some stuff on a long lens, far away so people don't know I'm being filmed. I think now a lot of people would know who I am, but for the first two series, people would just think I was a real policeman and I couldn't believe the abuse you have to put up with.

We were filming once and some wee guys chucked a two litre bottle of Diet Coke out the window of a passing car at us because they thought we were the police.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

There’s me dressed as a Chief Inspector, the main man, not some wee constable and I’m still getting it. The real police were with us and they just said they’d seen a lot worse than that. It’s a tough job. Nowadays people are just really friendly because they know the characters, so people are always wanting to speak to you about it.

Places like Oran Mor and other small theatres, there’s actors in Hollywood who can trace the route of their career from places like this, do you think they are still important to culture in Scotland?

They are completely vital and the encouraging thing is the pride that people take in maintain these places in Greenock or Cumbernauld or East Kilbride. There are some brilliant theatres. I was recording something last month and I was reminiscing with Alan Cumming about starting out and you can trace his path from small stages in the West End of Glasgow to Broadway. We need places people can try new things, just get up on a stage and do it.

Jack Docherty performs David Bowie & Me on Sunday and Monday at Oran Mor, find your tickets here.

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.