Why people shout 'Shagger' at new King's panto star when they spot him in the street

JORDAN YOUNG, star of River City and Scot Squad and soon to be newest addition to The King’s panto is casting his mind back.

Friday, 1st November 2019, 6:58 am
Jordan Young
Jordan Young

“I have a huge affinity with Edinburgh because I studied there and lived there for nine years,” reveals the actor, best known as Shieldinch bad-boy Alex Murdoch and PC Jack ‘Shagger’ McLaren in the police comedy. “As an 18-year-old Fife-boy moving to the big city, I had a whale of a time at Queen Margaret drama college.

“I got to know Edinburgh really well and have lived in about nine different flats in almost every area of the city.”

He adds, “In fact, we always said that when we had kids, we’d move back East... and then when we did, we realised how expensive that would be.

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Jordan Young

“But I always believed I’d end up living in Edinburgh, it just feels like home.”

Married to Karen, with who he has two daughters, Marley, 6, and Piper, 2, the 39-year-old is preparing to make his King’s panto debut as Joey the Clown in Goldilocks & The Three Bears, alongside Leven Street regulars Allan Stewart, Andy Gray, Grant Stott and Gillian Parkhouse.

However, while it may be the first chance for Edinburgh audiences to discover Jordan’s passion for pantomime, he is no stranger to the art form. For the past 12 years he has been a star of Aberdeen’s His Majesty’s panto and before that he appeared in Dunfermline’s Carnegie Hall and Stirling’s Macrobert Centre. He also appeared with Elaine C Smith for three years in the Glasgow Kings.

Despite being a well established member of the Aberdeen company, Jordan admits his dream was always to appear in The King’s annual spectacular.

Jordan Young

“When I was at college I went to see Allan Stewart with my classmate Michael Harrison, I thought Allan was a phenomenal dame. When I was doing Aberdeen, they’re panto would finish a couple of weeks earlier than Edinburgh’s, so I’d come down to see The King’s show. Every time, I came away having loved it. I’d get home and say to my wife, ‘I’d love to be on that stage’.

“So it was a move that I had wanted to happen, but one I could never see coming about because the lads were already there, and it is their show - I couldn’t see any room in it for me.”

That all changed earlier this year as he was driving to the set to film River City, Michael Harrison, his one time classmate who is now Managing Director of Qdos Pantomimes, producers of The King’s panto, called him.

“It’s mental,” he laughs, “because the first person I met on my very first day of college at Queen Margaret’s Corstorphine Campus was Michael - he was at the bank machine and we remembered we had seen each other at the audition, so said ‘Hi’. I lived above Michael in the Halls of Residence and we’d often share beans on toast and what not... now he’s one of the most successful producers in the country wining and dining superstars and I’m begging him for jobs,” he jokes.

Jordan Young

“Anyway, Michael is very loyal, and he phoned as I was driving to River City. “There was a bit of chit-chat, but Michael always phones for a reason and then he went, ‘I’m going to move you to Edinburgh...' I nearly crashed the car. I was absolutely buzzing. People who don’t really know panto don’t understand how huge this is for me. It’s massive because I get to be at home with my kids, but professionally it’s massive because I get to be on stage with the three guys that I have watched for the last 10 years.”

Goldilocks will also see Jordan turn 40 during the run and will reunite him with his River City co-star Andy Gray and Gillian Parkhouse, who worked with him twice in Aberdeen.

“I did two pantos with Gillian, I was Buttons to her Cinders, and in Peter Pan, she was Tiger Lily and I was Smee. He adds, “Gillian is an absolute riot. She has as much energy off-stage as on and is always up to nonsense, it’s always about what’s the next trick we can play.”

As he chats, Jordan is keeping an eye on the time.

“I’m filming River City today,” he explains. “It’s full on, but I love the work I do. I’ve had some great story lines in River City, my character in it is very mean, moody and dark, then I get to go to Scot Squad and improvise and make things up, which is great fun. Then the cherry on top is that I get to do panto, which I’ve always insisted is wildly different, although some might say my performance in it is just the same as in River City,” he laughs.

So, if pitched against each other, who would come out on top I wonder, Alex Murdoch or PC Jack McLaren?

“Ooh... good question,” he considers. “I don’t know how good a gangster Alex Murdoch really is so I’m going to say Jack McLaren. Yes, definitely Jack.”

Both characters have made Jordan a household name in Scotland and, as a result, he finds folk want to talk to him wherever he goes.

“Workies shout out their van windows and women in Morrisons want to chat depending on what my character has been up to.”

With a grin, he adds, “But the number of people who say they don’t watch River City and then tell you in forensic detail what your character did over the last four weeks never ceases to amaze me.”

If soap fans just want to chat, his Scot Squad character’s reputation for being a bit of a lothario has posed a couple of awkward moments.

“Sadly, they’re both lotharios, which in my case couldn’t be further from the truth,” he muses.

He laughs again as he confides, “I wish I’d been a lothario all those years when I was single and living in Edinburgh.

“A lothario was the opposite of what I was then.

“Now though, because of PC Jack McLaren I get a lot of folk shouting ‘Shagger’ at me.

“That’s okay when it’s a guy in a pub but when I’m out with the kids and young guys go ‘Alright Shagger?’, my daughter will go, ‘Dad what did he say?’”

Thankfully, the shout-outs at the panto are sure to be a lot friendlier, but that doesn’t stop the star from being nervous about his forthcoming debut.

“Although I’m over the moon and delighted at coming to Edinburgh, I’m also really nervous. I had an amazing time in Aberdeen and have nothing but happy memories of establishing myself as being the daft boy and doing my thing. That’s what people there expected of me.

“For people in Edinburgh, who maybe only know me from being this gangster that never smiles in River City, it might be a bit of leap when I arrive on stage being all daft and physical - I hope they’re not expecting me to be a gangster.”

He admits, “I am terrified about joining the cast. The lads have been really, really welcoming but I’m still aware that it’s their show and I have to try and fit in and compliment what they do.”

After taking a year out last year due to illness, Andy Gray has gone on record as saying he’ll be cutting the more physical aspects of his performances.

Will Jordan take over?

“Absolutely. It is a huge part of what I enjoy doing. I’m relatively fit and I enjoy throwing myself around and doing the slapstick stuff, still, my biggest fear is the audience don’t take to me the way I hope they do.”

With his wealth of experience plain for all to see, it’s probably safe to say, ‘Oh yes they will’.

Goldilocks & The Three Bears runs from 30 November to 19 January 2020