Karen Koren: Michael has more reason to Smiley

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EDINBURGH has become a very popular place for filming television dramas and feature films. It was in this connection that I met up with my old friend Michael Smiley the other day. He is filming a new drama for the BBC called Murder, which I don’t think we are due to see on our screens until next year some time.

We had a lovely long lunch and much chat about the old days. Michael is now a very well-respected actor with a string of films and television dramas to his credit, like Luther, Doctor Who, Wire In The Blood and movies like World’s End and Burke and Hare.

He has more films yet to be released. The Lobster, in which he plays a lone swimmer, is one and he tells me he has never been so cold as when swimming, naked, off the west coast of Ireland.

The best thing about catching up with Smiley - the name he used as a stand-up comedian, - was talking about times before he got involved in acting - now his favoured career.

Smiley was runner-up in the Gilded Balloon’s So You Think You’re Funny? competition in 1993, pipped to the post by Dylan Moran.

I was interested to hear how he managed his career after that and got into acting - he went on to become close friends with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost and shared a flat with them in the early days.

We reminisced about the nights he compered Late ’n’ Live and he told me some funny stories like when members of the Bay City Rollers were in the audience, sitting at the front table with their girlfriends, a bucket of Champagne, and looking happy and contented.

Michael got all the comics backstage to find as much Tartan as they could and they all went on stage and sang Bye Bye Baby, they managed to get Alan Longmuir on stage, but Woody was not up for it, so Michael jumped off the stage and kissed him full on the lips and said: “My sister wrote you letters all through the 70s, which you ignored. This is from her!”