GRANT Stott is not someone normally associated with stage fright.
But he readily admits to a touch of nerves ahead of Fifty Shades of Grant – a variety extravaganza to be held next Thursday at the revamped Assembly Rooms and featuring some of the biggest names in Scottish showbiz, including Michelle McManus.
Fans might assume the Forth One DJ is raring to hit the revamped venue’s stage after the success of That’s Fife – a hilarious parody of Frank Sinatra classic That’s Life – which the broadcaster originally performed as a filler during a music awards ceremony.
The rendition got more than 17,000 views on YouTube in only 48 hours – more than any of the videos of the ceremony’s star performers, which included The Wanted, Mel C and X Factor winner Matt Cardle.
“The background to That’s Fife was last year’s Radio Forth awards, which I was hosting at the Usher Hall,” Grant recalls. “Every year we’ve tried to do something to bring something different to the show rather than just hosting the event.
“I decided I wanted to do something on Fife, a big part of our broadcast area, but just couldn’t find a song that worked for me.”
The idea of playing with the title and lyrics of That’s Life to come up with a new version that would resonate with listeners in his own backyard came from one of Grant’s friends, and was leapt on by the broadcaster. “It was just perfect,” he says, “and the reaction to it on the night, and
afterwards, was nuts. Within a few months we had more than 100,000 hits. I think the song worked because it’s so personal. It’s placing something well-known in quirky places that we all know. And the fact that people in Fife embraced it made it all the more special for me.”
But although “delighted” to follow on from that unexpected success by hosting pals Hue and Cry and Ian Rankin, as well as entertainers Allan Stewart and Andy Gray, below, among others, at next week’s show, Grant admits to some anxiety.
“I’ve hosted the Radio Forth awards from there and other events but I am pretty nervous about this one as my name is on the poster,” he says.
“The Assembly Rooms asked us to put on a show because they had just gone through their refurb. It’s a big one and it’s the first time I’ve done anything like a variety show before.
“I’m totally reliant on my pals who are coming along on the night. I and the organisers put it out to friends – people I’ve worked with on previous occasions – asking them to do us a favour. It’s been about getting pals to come along. Thankfully, they’ve said ‘yes’.”
And it seems nerves have also been jangled just a tad by the show’s name – another piece of word-play, this time on the title of E L James’ risqué tale of sexual adventure that is also modern fiction’s fastest selling paperback. The broadcaster is quick to point out that his show will be suitable for all.
“My kids will be there,” he says. “There won’t be much in the way of talk about whips and handcuffs but you can’t have a topical discussion at the moment without mentioning Fifty Shades of Grey.
“I don’t have any real desire to read it, to be honest. But it’s a question I will put to Ian Rankin on the night as I’m sure he will have his own take on any book on sale at the moment that’s doing as well as that one.”
The show, according to Grant, will be good, old-fashioned fun – and an opportunity to show off the possibilities of an entertainment format that, he argues, has become neglected.
“There will be a bit of chat, a lot of music and live comedy, and I’ll be stringing things together with my own random musings,” he says. “I absolutely think there’s an appetite for variety at the moment and this show is an example of that. The punters want to come along to see lots of people doing different acts.
“The fact that this sold out within a week shows that there is a real desire for this kind of entertainment – I just don’t understand why it’s not put on more.”
Grant is particularly happy to be bringing his variety show to the Assembly Rooms.
“I have seen it since the refurb,” he says. “It’s a big, old venue and it’s looking absolutely fantastic now. It’s a great venue to do something like this in.”