Meet longest-serving actor on the Edinburgh Fringe

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He may not be the most recognisable name in showbusiness, but Alan Ireby can lay claim to treading the boards longer than any other Fringe actor.

He has appeared on stage every year for more than half a century and has only ever missed one Fringe – because he had to direct traffic on Princes Street.

Alan Ireby in his role in Garden O' Delight at this year's Fringe. Picture: Esme Allen

Alan Ireby in his role in Garden O' Delight at this year's Fringe. Picture: Esme Allen

But the 72-year-old retired police officer isn’t showing any signs of slowing down, appearing in not one but two shows at this year’s Festival.

Alan is playing two parts – a talking tree and a water Kelpie – in Garden O’ Delight, and is also appearing as Mr Dussel in The Diary of Anne Frank.

Cardiff-born Alan, who moved to the Capital at the age of nine, said: “I was actually a bit of a latecomer to acting, though I’ve probably made up for that over the years.

“I didn’t perform in anything until I was 19 years old, and it wasn’t until a couple of years later in the early 1960s that I appeared in a Fringe 
production.”

Alan, who lives in Willowbrae, has appeared in countless productions over the years, including almost every Shakespearean play.

“I’ve been in The Tempest, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Merchant of Venice, Much Ado About Nothing, I played one of the fathers in The Taming of the Shrew, the Friar in Romeo and Juliet, and I’ve played Malvolio in Twelfth Night twice.

“I would still love to play King Lear, though – that’s many an actor’s dream role.”

Alan was also involved in the 1973 production of Man of Sorrows, which won one of the very first Fringe First 
Awards.

“It’s funny to think how much the Festival has changed since then,” he said. “It’s a lot more professional, and comedy seems to have overtaken theatre as the main attraction, which I think is a bit of a shame.”

Despite his dedication, in 1975 he was forced to put his acting aside for one year, thanks to a jobsworth boss.

He said: “In those days there weren’t traffic lights on Princes Street, so police officers would direct the traffic. I’d always been allowed to just do day shifts during August, but that particular year my boss insisted that I had to work alternate shifts. That’s the only year I’ve missed.”

This year sees him perform in two open-air shows, produced by Theatre Alba, being held in Duddingston Kirk 
Gardens.

Artistic director Charles Nowosielski said: “Alan is an absolutely fantastic gentleman, and an integral part of Theatre Alba.”

• Do you know anyone who has been performing longer? E-mail newsen@edinburghnews.com.