Barbara Rafferty Interview Part One

A few of these first blog entries mention the film journalism course I’ve enrolled on at the University of Edinburgh.

It’s a whistlestop tour of the profession, and ties together my two main interests/passions: film and writing. After 11 weeks it’ll be over, but hopefully one of the areas I can do more with is the interviewing. To kick it off I had the privilege to interview Barbara Rafferty.

As a star of Rab C Nesbitt, Hamish Macbeth, River City and the Oscar nominated The Last King of Scotland, there was a lot to ask her about in a short space of time. Hopefully it gives a flavour of her work for the uninitiated…

Interview (Part One)

For Barbara Rafferty, one of Scotland’s most respected stage and screen actors, the desire to entertain started early. “My mother tells the story that I was at a wedding, aged 2 and a half, and there was a Soprano singing,” she says, smiling at the memory, “I joined in and got a laugh”.

Born in Glasgow and raised in Clydebank, early roles in series such as BBC Scotland’s ‘This Man Craig’ led to a part in one of the most fondly remembered British Horror films, The Wicker Man.

“I think I got the job because I’d had a baby and was breastfeeding, and that was the character – right place, right time!” says Barbara, “I was on location for over a month, living in a fabulous hotel with a wee baby”. Star Edward Woodward was “charming, absolutely lovely” and played a mean pretend trumpet, while around them chaos ensued.

“It was a mess. One of the actors punched the director then the director left. Things weren’t getting done on time…”she pauses for a second, “I remember Brit Ekland stayed in a trailer on-set and she looked beautiful, really stunning, first thing in the morning”.

After a few years off to raise her children, and appearances in seminal Scottish series such as Tutti Frutti and Taggart alongside theatre work, her first major TV role came in 1989 with the arrival of Rab C Nesbitt on BBC2. “Iconoclastic” is how Barbara refers to the show.

It was Mary Doll herself, Elaine C Smith, who recommended Barbara for the role of Ella Cotter. “I’d seen it first as a sketch on Naked Video and though it was fabulous, and Gregor [Fisher] is a fabulous actor. I walked in, read the script and thought ‘I know her, I know this type of woman’. I did a readthrough with Tony Roper, and Colin [Gilbert, the director] said ‘book her’!”.

Asked to explain the reason for the series success, she thinks for a moment before answering: “Rab is the story of Everyman, this downtrodden guy. It’s just so funny.” Would she play the part again in the rumoured revival? “Yes,” she says, without hesitation “as long as the scripts are as good as they were. I wouldn’t want to spoil the memory”.

In Barbara Rafferty Interview Part Two, we discuss her role in BBC Scotland’s Hamish Macbeth and the Oscar-winning Last King of Scotland.


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