Its Dead Good To See Her Back In Business
The Scotsman 6th November 1998
At 11am the day after the premiere of Ken Loachs new film My Name is Joe, Lorraine McIntosh is looking as fresh as a newly picked daisy. The 34 year old former Deacon Blue backing vocalist, who has emerged after four years in fames wilderness to make her acting debut in the film bounds downstairs into the cafe at the Burrell Collection, apologises for being five minutes late and says she would love a coffee.
Swamped in an ankle skimming black coat, black zip up jacket, black leggings, washed out grey T-shirt, long black skirt and a pair of battered trainers, she proceeds to shed layers of clothing like an onion, before settling into a seat."Im tired but not hungover," she insists, pushing a wavy brunette fringe from her face. "The party was at the Renfrew Ferry and I thought it would be far too embarrassing to fall down the stairs with some journalist taking my photo"
"Photo" for photograph, "pictures for cinema, her sentences are strewn with chummy colloquialisms. In the world according to McIntosh, people are all "dead nice" and stories "dead funny"
"Ill just tell you this dead funny story," she says launching into a tale of how Glasgows fashion diva Kelly Cooper Barr left a message on her answering machine the day before stating she was trying to drum up some "celebs" to go to the film premiere. Did McIntosh and her husband Ricky Ross want a couple of tickets? "I just had to phone her back and say: Darling, Im in it," McIntosh says in mock luvvie tones. " She was mortified. I just said to her: And I hope youve got better celebs than me coming"
McIntosh may laugh good-naturedly about being relegated to B-list celebrity status, but it was all so different in the Eighties. Fronted by her husband, Ricky Ross, Deacon Blue charged into the charts with the debut album, Raintown. Three more top ten albums and 17 chart hits followed. They even knocked Madonna from the No 1 spot with their second album When The World Knows Your Name. Megastars whose pop-anthem songs filled stadiums, they were mobbed from Melbourne to Miami before slipping out of the limelight at the end of a tour four years ago.
Nowadays, McIntosh would probably joke that she couldnt get mobbed if she was handing out tenners. "I do miss it," she concedes, cupping ten perfectly painted burgundy fingernails around the much anticipated cup of coffee. "For a long time I was desperate for a kind of normal existence. We were dead big and everything was good fun and with hindsight everything looks rosy again. I mean, when you wake up on a horrible, grey Glasgow morning you think, we used to fly to Italy to do an interview and sit in a street cafe having a cappuccino and wed be moaning about it. Why on earth were we moaning?"
The past four years she has been living the humdrum life that she hankered after when she was on the road. She shares a comfortable house in Glasgows South Side with Ross and their two daughters, Emer, six and four year old Georgia. Both she and Ross have continued their musical careers. Ross 40, launched an independent record label and an album earlier this year, while his wife has teamed up with Glasgow musician Brian Docherty and is writing her own songs. The music has to fit round childcare routines. The highlight of most days is chauffeuring her children to and from nursery and school. I get stressed out if Im away from them for any length of time. Im going to Spain for three days with Ricky to do a couple of gigs and Im already not looking forward to it."
The singer could have been forgiven for thinking that her 15 minutes of fame were up. She would never have dreamed of trying her hand at acting if it had not been for her friend, Paul Laverty. The Glasgow civil rights lawyer who wrote Carlas Song met up with McIntosh while she was in Los Angeles with her husband. Over a couple of drinks, Laverty mentioned he was writing another film set in Glasgow. McIntosh thought no more of it until she received a phone call from Laverty saying Loach was interested in having a chat with her. A huge fan of the directors work McIntosh was "dead excited" but had no idea that Loach had her in mind for a role. " I thought maybe it was something to do with the music," she says.
The three went out for meal in Glasgow. " Ken has this amazing knack of telling very little about himself but drawing everything out of you," she recalls. "After three glasses of wine, I went home and thought, oh my God, theres nothing he doesnt know about me."
However, she was still not clear about what Loach had in mind. It was only when he invited her along to do an audition that the penny dropped.The room was full of actors talking about their agents, she says. Although she had never acted in her life, she wasnt nervous. With typical down-to-earth directness, she reckoned that everyone else was supposed to be good. "I was a singer. I was meant to be crap." McIntosh was paired with an actress and told to improvise a scene in which she was a woman worried that her friend was hanging out with the wrong crowd. The director then filmed her acting debut with a hand-held camera. "I remember him saying to me: Right Lorraine, you go first." I thought, what the hell is he talking about? But part of my brain clicked and instinct takes over. I ended up enjoying it." she says.
After two more auditions, Loach, whose other films include Land and Freedom and Kes, telephoned her to say that she had the part of Maggie McKay. My Name Is Joe follows the fortunes of a recovering alcoholic, played by Peter Mullen, and his beloved amateur football team, the worst in Glasgow. A receptionsit in a Glasgow Health Centre, Maggie is the best friend of Joes girlfriend, actress Louise Goodall. Mullen, who won the Cannes best actor award for his performance, and Goodall were "angels", the kind of actors who made her feel as though she had been born in stage trunk. As for Loach, he was so laid back that he was almost horizontal. "With him, it was just like: Do you know how to work the phones in the reception?"
Watching herself on the big screen had her squirming in her seat. The premiere was the second time she had seen the finished version and she still cant quite believe how a novice like herself managed to land a part in a film by one of Britains finest directors."I know it sounds gushy but when I got home after the premiere I thought, I dont know how that happened. Its a great film, one of Kens best, I think. Its really moving and Peter was just a stroke of genius as Joe. I was trying to think if anyone else could have encapsulated that role and I dont think they could have.
Two more roles have followed, one in Scottish Televisions Taggart and another in a television drama, Medical Ethics, to be shown in the spring. McIntosh has also landed a part on Psychos, a controversial new series for Channel 4 set in a Scottish asylum."My Name Is Joe was a breeze compared with the gruelling schedule of Taggart," she says. After the first day on the popular detective series she jokes that she wanted to go home and phone in sick.
Although she would be happy to take on more roles if she thought they would be fun, her children and her singing are her main priorities. Coming from the kind of family where "doing a turn" was obligatory she cant remember a time when she didnt sing. "My mum was Irish and we used to spend our holidays in Ireland. Everyone would go to the pub at night, including the children, and wed all get up and sing. I used to accompany my dad, he was a great performer. Hed sing this song called 21 Years about a guy being sent to prison. Dead cheery for a girl of 11," she laughs.
McIntosh would love another child. With Emer, she says she worried about her daughter being embarrassed by her parents stardom. If they do have another baby, fame is the last thing she will be bothering about. "Now I know just how quickly people forget you." Lynsey Cochrane