‘IN my head, we’re still the little 13-year-old girls that used to go to the Hearts matches and get on the number 11 bus to Boroughmuir. We’re just wee lassies from
Alana Macfarlane is on a conference call with her twin sister Lisa from their home in north London following a hectic night DJing at a top club.
It’s a far cry from their humble Edinburgh upbringing, but such modesty is one of the reasons Alana and Lisa – aka the Mac Twins – are on the verge of hitting the big time as radio DJs and television presenters.
The twins, who grew up in Buckstone, have been snapped up by BBC Radio 1Extra, DJ’d at former Oasis star Liam Gallagher’s birthday party, been whisked off to America to film a documentary with Plan B and recorded a TV pilot for Channel 4 – all by the tender age of 24.
And that’s after “retiring” from their earlier careers, where Lisa was a theatre producer and Alana was a professional dancer.
“Lisa and I always wanted to present, but wanted to have our own separate careers first,” explains Alana. “We didn’t just want to do it because of the twins thing.
“So we went for it, and haven’t looked back.”
The twins’ big break came after getting a screen test for the UK’s largest student lifestyle magazine, Verge.
They were given the gig as online presenters – with their first job to interview TV funnyman Keith Lemon – and did behind-the-scenes interviews at events such as The Brits, Wireless Festival and Radio 1’s Big Weekend.
Their online stints thrust them into the spotlight and they were head-hunted by the Jack Daniels whisky brand to fly to Tennessee with rapper Plan B to film a documentary.
“It was just so surreal”, Lisa says. “I kept thinking ‘we are just two wee lassies from Edinburgh, what the hell are we doing on a plane with Plan B?’”
The girls were then approached by the BBC about doing some radio work and before long they were offered a weekly guest slot on Radio 1Xtra’s breakfast show.
The opportunity has opened doors for the up-and-coming presenters – who have interviewed stars ranging from Alan Carr and Vic Reeves to Katherine Jenkins and Rizzle Kicks – including club DJ residencies at Whisky Mist in Mayfair, and the prestigious W London Hotel in Leicester Square.
Rubbing shoulders with stars has earned them celebrity status, and they are now regulars at awards ceremonies and parties hosted by the likes of Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber.
But despite the growing fame, Alana and Lisa, who attended Buckstone Primary and Boroughmuir High, insist they do not want to lose sight of their roots.
“We are getting papped [pursued by photographers] a lot at events, which is a bit weird,” Lisa says. “One time we were coming out of an event and a pap was papping us all the way into the tube station. If there’s a bus or tube, we take it instead of always getting a cab.
“Another time we came out of an event and we were wearing long ball gowns and I said ‘right Alana, let’s get the night bus home’.
“We are so used to being self-sufficient, I don’t really want stuff like that to change.”
She adds: “All our family and friends remind us to be grateful for what we have.
“Mum keeps us grounded big time. She says ‘stars don’t brag, they shine’.
“Mother Mac is no nonsense.”
Mother Mac – 52-year-old Fiona Macfarlane – lives in the family home in Buckstone with her husband Kenny, 56, and they both work in insurance.
The twins make sure they go home regularly to visit family and friends, often turning their parents’ home into a showbiz pit-stop, like at Christmas when they brought singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran to stay.
“We met Ed through a friend and we all just sat round playing Monopoly,” says Lisa.
“Everyone thinks we live this glamorous lifestyle but we sit on tour buses drinking Diet Coke and eating crackers and cheese.”
Monopoly and Diet Coke aside, mingling in such social circles isn’t without its glamorous side.
The twins get free clothes and make-up, get invited to have their hair done in top salons and get free drinks and travel to work when they are DJing.
“We went to Lucinda Ellery Studio in Edinburgh to get our hair done and we got free food and free champagne and free cocktails and we were like ‘Oh my God, this is so cool’ and we kept asking if it was definitely free,” Alana laughs.
Lisa was the first to seek fame in London, leaving home at 18.
All set to study medicine at university, she was inspired by her drama teacher at Boroughmuir High, Mrs McGill, to follow her dreams.
She studied at the Central School of Speech and Drama and within three years became one of the UK’s youngest theatre producers, working on West End shows.
Meanwhile, Alana stayed in Edinburgh to study dance at Telford College and while she was there founded the dance school Gie It Laldy. She moved to London a couple of years later.
The twins are now setting their sights on conquering the world of television.
“With TV, our end goal is to be like Ant and Dec, presenting Saturday night TV,” says Alana. “There’s a really big gap in the market for duo female presenters.”
“Everyone thinks this has all happened really quickly but for us, we want everything to happen instantaneously,” adds Lisa.
“We both had good careers before presenting but we gave up everything to put our all into this, and it’s starting to pay off now. We are having experiences that we could only ever have dreamt of.”