It's a pescatarian Christmas for Scot Squad and River City's Jordan Young

Jordan Young had just finished filming the latest series of Scots Squad on the day lockdown hit.
Jordan Young in pantoJordan Young in panto
Jordan Young in panto

During the pandemic he managed to continue filming River City, albeit socially distanced, but despite the fact that they say 'two out of three ain't bad', the fact that his other big gig of the year, the Edinburgh King's panto, has fallen foul of Covid-19 restrictions is indeed bad; pantomime is something the 40-year-old loves with a passion.

"It's a huge part of my life and not just something I do because it's my job, I genuinely adore everything about panto. As I have said to my wife, hopefully this will be my only Christmas off because I want a long career in panto and my aim is to be doing panto for a long long time," says the 40-year-old, who joined the Leven Street panto team last year, as the 'daft laddie' in Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

He was due to return this year as the jester in Sleeping Beauty, as was his wife Karen who choreographs the show, but that's now been knocked back until 2021, although he did get an offer to join Allan Stewart and Andy Gray in Milton Keynes, where they were ‘out on loan’ for one year only.

Jordan Young as  Alex McAllister in River CityJordan Young as  Alex McAllister in River City
Jordan Young as Alex McAllister in River City

Jordan, known to River City fans as Alex McAllister, reflects, "Although it would have clashed with filming River City, our executive producer is pretty amenable about letting us do other things, but if I had taken it, there would have been no way of getting back up the road for Christmas with all the restrictions and it seemed unlikely that the family would get to to come down to see me. So it just didn't feel right."

That feeling proved prescient, when the Milton Keynes show was scuppered as the government put the area into Level Three on the day it was due to open. Consequently, the father of two finds himself looking forward to a Christmas with a difference, although he may still be one very special role to take on.

"I have never experienced a Christmas Eve with my kids because by the time I get in from the show they are in their beds. I never even put out Santa's cookies with them, so I can't wait to do it properly."

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

He laughs, as he continues, "Marley, my seven-year-old, said to me, 'I have a brilliant idea daddy, why don't we set up your phone and leave it in the living room overnight to catch Santa...'

PC Sarah Fletcher, played by Sally Reid, with Jordan Young as PC Jack McLaren in Scot SquadPC Sarah Fletcher, played by Sally Reid, with Jordan Young as PC Jack McLaren in Scot Squad
PC Sarah Fletcher, played by Sally Reid, with Jordan Young as PC Jack McLaren in Scot Squad

"I was like, 'Oh, genius...' while thinking, 'Oh, god!' So I'm now thinking of various ways of angling the camera on the phone and maybe getting a pair of red trousers or something to create some little piece of magic."

The irony for many panto performers who are parents is that they end up missing their own kids at Christmas in order to entertain other people's.

"You have to square that in your head," Jordan admits. "When I made the move from the Aberdeen panto last year, there were a million reasons why I wanted to come to Edinburgh, family was one of them. To not be around at Christmas was pretty horrible."

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Consequently, the actor who will return to TV screens early in 2021 as PC Jack McLaren in Scot Squad, intends to make the most of his Christmas off.

"Panto has been half my life for 20 years and as an adult I have no concept of Christmas without it, now suddenly I'm watching Christmas movies, eating too much rubbish, drinking too much and trying to get into the Christmas spirit with my kids.

"Usually Christmas is just a day off and present shopping is me running out early in the morning and cramming it all in before a matinee, but what has been forced on us this year left me, after the initial devastation, determined to find the silver lining, and I have.

"My three-year-old Piper is right into Christmas this year. It's the first time she has been fully aware of what is going on and the whole Santa thing, but my Marley is fully immersed in it and really excited that I'm here. Last year was the first year I was actually in my own bed for Christmas, before that I was away five nights a week in Aberdeen, so she's loving having me around. We've even bought Christmas jumpers and jammies and all that sort of stuff."

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

When the family sits down for Christmas dinner on the 25th, however, there will be no turkey and trimmings for him, he reveals.

"Usually we have the full Christmas dinner, but as of a month ago I turned pescatarian, so at this moment in time I don't have a clue what I'm going to have to eat.

"I've hummed and hawed about this for years, but I see things on social media about animal welfare that really upset and disturb me and recently I read a book about running. Research shows people who don't eat animals get less injuries and recover quicker. I do quite a lot of running, so that and the animal welfare aspect made me think, 'I'll give it a bash'. It's not easy, I can tell you, because I was always a big meat eater; the things I’ll miss more than anything else are pigs in blankets. We'll see how it goes.”

Before we finish chatting, does he have a favourite panto gag?

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

He laughs nervously, "One of my favourite jokes is a poo joke, but playing the daft boy, this joke always went well. It's one of those Mastermind routines where the baddie goes, 'Oh you guys are so stupid, let me test you.' And the question was, "What do you do if a bird poops on your windscreen?' My answer was, 'Finish wi' her.'

Well, no one ever said panto was politically correct.

Tomorrow: Panto practical joker Gillian Parkhouse’s Christmas

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription