Howden’s happiest in the glow of the limelight

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EDINBURGH actress Kathryn Howden made her stage debut here in the Capital with Edinburgh Youth Theatre back in the 70s.

Today she’s a familiar face on our TV screens having appeared in everything from Peak Practice to Taggart, Pram Face to Case Histories. She can currently bee seen in Parades End on BBC 2.

However, as returns to the stage to star in the latest Royal Lyceum production, The Guid Sisters, she reflects that there’s nothing to beat the smell of greasepaint and the roar of a live audience.

Born and brought up in Auld Reekie - her father is local comedian Alex ‘Happy’ Howden, who still plays the occasional show - Kathryn went to college at the RSAMD in Glasgow and ended up staying on. Perhaps because of the sheer effort it took to get a place.

“It took me five years to get in,” she says. “I spoke to the principal once I had got in and he said the problem was that they didn’t quite know where to slot me. But to be perfectly truthful I didn’t know another way to do it. I thought you had to go to drama college in order to become an actress.”

Her first job turned out to be at the Royal Lyceum in a production of Dario Fo’s Can’t Pay, Won’t Pay, directed by Hugh Hoggart, with whom she had already worked at college. And it was a return to her roots in more ways than one.

“Having my first job in the Lyceum was fantastic,” she says.

“I come from quite a rough area in Edinburgh, and when I was a child none of my friends liked theatre, so I used to sneak up and watch plays at the Lyceum and say I was doing something else.” While Howden has had parts in Taggart and many more of Scottish television’s offerings over the years, there are only two productions which stand out for her - Looking After Jo Jo, with Robert Carlyle, then Forgotten, a psychological thriller.

“The one I enjoyed the most was Forgotten,” she says. “It was with Amanda Burton and Paul McGann. I played the cop in it, the detective chief inspector, and she was a fantastic character a bit like a female Columbo.”

• See Kathryn Howden in The Guid Sisters at the Royal Lyceum, Grindlay Street, until October 13, 7.45pm (matinees 2.30pm), £14.50-£29, 0131-248 4848 / www.lyceum.org.uk