Interview: Jane McCarry’s still game for a cracking good comedy drama

Jane McCarry

Jane McCarry

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SPEAKING to Jane McCarry is a lot like talking to her famous TV character, Isa Drennan, the elderly gossip from much-loved Scottish comedy series, Still Game.

She’s just arrived in Edinburgh to start work on the forthcoming run of The Guid Sisters at the Royal Lyceum, and her tale about getting here from Glasgow sounds not unlike a Still Game script.

“I missed my train at Queen Street because I’d got involved with two pensioners who were trying to find the Gorbals, where I stay,” she hurries. “They’d got the wrong bus. ‘You’re not in the Gorbals’, I said.

“They’d come from Australia, where they’d been living for 45 years. One of them had been brought up in Glasgow until he was ten. I tried to get them back to Cumberland Street, then the whole bus got involved, giving it ‘Aye, the Gorbals, it’s no the same, it’s p*** noo’. Then the bus driver started as well. And that’s how I missed my train.”

Despite being only 41, McCarry has spent much of her career playing older characters. As well as Isa (based on two of her aunts), she’s known as Granny Murray - the middle-aged childminder on kids TV show Me Too! - and is now taking on the roll of (aunty) Gaby in The Guid Sisters, a play she first performed back in 1992 at the Tron in Glasgow.

However, an awkward escapade involving her dog at her audition made her think she’d scuppered her chances. “I was busy rehearsing The Steamie at the time, and I had no option but to pick up my kids and dog and take them to the audition. The kids had locked the door to the room I was reading in and then I could hear the dog barking.

“Serge (Denoncourt, the director) said to just bring them all in, but then my son, Ian, let the dog go. The dog ran off and ended up peeing on the Lyceum curtain. ‘Oh no,’ said Serge, ‘no pee-pee on the curtain.’ I says, right, I’m just going to go now. I never heard back for ages, then, out of the blue, they said would you like to play Gaby?”

First performed in Scotland in 1989, the Scots version of The Guid Sisters has translated well from its original French-Canadian version.

it centres on Germaine Lauzon, a woman who wins a million Green Shield stamps and is in for a large financial windfall, so long as she sticks each stamp into a book. Calling upon her friends, family and neighbours for help, it all makes for a grand piece about women and the men in their lives.

having studied in Edinburgh, performing at the Lyceum is something McCarry is very much looking forward to.

“I feel like a proper actor now having got the chance to work at the Lyceum. It’s such a beautiful place. And that chandelier? Awww, magic.

“The other actors have millions to do compared to me. I’m just nice, straight, a little feisty. Gaby has the least problems of them and best life of everyone who is there.”

And what of Still Game? Will we see its likes again? “Oh, you’ll have to speak to the boys (Ford Kiernan and Greg Hemphill) about that,” she says.

“It would be nice to see what happened to Isa and Navid... we had a wee bit of hanky panky towards the end. It would be nice to draw a proper line under it. Who knows?”

• The Guid Sisters, Royal Lyceum, Grindlay Street, Friday - 13 Oct, 7.45pm, £14.50-£29, 0131-248 4848