Dougie Knows The Score
Daily Record 26th August 2000

From pop star to presenter and round again, it's enough to inflate any ego, but no that of the lad from Inchinnan

ASK most kids under the age of 12 what they want to be when they grow up, and they’ll tell you: a pop star, a TV presenter, or a footballer. Back in 1972, five-year-old Dougie Vipond had his heart set on just one thing. A shiny yellow helmet, a hose and a big red engine. But, sadly for the young Inchinnan lad those aspirations never did materialise. Instead, he has had to content himself with the life of a rock star turned TV celebrity. In terms of making childhood dreams seem achievable, Dougie, 33. is living proof — for today’s generation anyway. I really wanted to be a fireman when I  grew up.’ the smartly suited Deacon Blue drummer and new Sportscene presenter recounts, as he sips mineral water in the private members’ bar at Glasgow’s Corinthian. And, of course, like any wee boy I would love to have played for Scotland. “But as I grew up I sort of wanted to be into everything my big brother was. He was a huge Queen fan and used to play this live recording of one of their concerts around the time of Bohemian Rhapsody. I remember thinking I liked the sound of the drums and wouldn't mind being like that guy.”

It was then, as a youngster playing drums on his parents pillows at home. that Dougie planted the acorn that became his oak. His folks bought him a drum kit (“the dust from the cushions gave me asthma attacks”), and he eventually ,joined the school band, playing funky numbers like the theme from ‘The Rockford Files and Shaft while kids in other schools were being classically trained. A spell studying orchestral percussion at Glasgow’s Royal Scottish Academy of Music was to follow before he entered phase one of the career of dreams as the drummer in one of Scotland’s most successful bands. “I was 19 when Deacon Blue signed their first record deal, and 22 when we had our first number one album with When The World Knows Your Name,” he remembers. ‘That really is amazing when you think back, but at the time I think I was too young to appreciate it. We would be touring in places like Australia, America and all over Europe and I realised that, after something like six years in the band, I had been going to these countries, going to a hotel. playing a gig and then moving on. “So I made the decision three years before we split up that I’d go and see a bit of everywhere we played, whether it was a shopping centre or an old castle.”

And so phase one of his career merged with phase two, which currently sees him turn out as a regular presenter on BBC l’s Holiday show. The programme fulfils his thirst for travel although, in the days leading up to our chat, he was working on a feature about Glasgow for it. Just before it was announced that Deacon Blue were splitting up in 1994, Dougie secured a position as presenter on Scottish Televisions then flagship arts programme NB, taking over from Bryan Burnett. The six of us in the band had made the decision to split up a year before we did,” says Dougie. We said that unless our relationship with the record company improved, we would chuck it. Things got worse, so we packed it in. ‘I made a showreel after reading an advert looking for presenters at Scottish Television, and went about Glasgow filming with a mate. “It was utterly humourless, but the producer said it worked because I didn’t just talk about me. And so Dougie Vipond the TV presenter came into being. “It would be churlish to say that being in Deacon Blue had nothing to do with it, but I was only the drummer, and wasn’t as well known as Ricky or Lorraine.”

In any case, Mr and Mrs Ricky Ross and the band reformed last year for a charity gig which led to a full UK tour, and album, Walking Back Home. “It was a case of ‘never say never’ when people asked us if we would ever play together again after splitting up,” he said. “Last year's get-together was brilliant but we couldn’t do it every year.” So, do they have any plans to work together again? “Never say never” smiles Dougie, who also plays drums for The Swiss Family Orbison, with former Danny Wilson member Kit Clark. In between times, Dougie’s profile has steadily grown, presenting the BBC's outdoor pursuits programme Outside Now, The Kirsty Wark Show, T in the Park, The Hogmanay Programme and even standing in for Richard Madeley on This Morning. At one stage during the Glasgow reunion gigs, a section of fans started chanting his name. Had he suddenly eclipsed Ricky Ross and Lorraine McIntosh as the band’s star player? “To be honest, fame and everything is totally irrelevant to me All that matters is you get the job done in the right way ‘I  remember that moment with the fans, and it was nice, but all I did was smile back at them. ‘In my job, everything looks glamorous, I can’t deny that, but what goes along with it is nothing,” he offers. I’ve been the luckiest man in the world with the jobs I’ve done, But you can’t let it change you. You still have to be able to go home and be with your family.”

Much as he might seem to live his life at a pace that would make most folk dizzy (he’s a shinty coach, a basketball player and has been known to jump out of planes and white water raft)’ Dougie’s now every bit the family man — the one he couldn’t be when on the road with a band. His wife Mandy, who is six months pregnant with their second child, dropped him off in the city before joining us for a drink. Their two-year-old son, Fin, is also here, and cavorts with his dad, hugging him, tugging his ear and climbing on his back for pictures. “Having children gives me so much more respect for my parents,” says Dougie as a confident Fin dips his fingers into my mineral water. Shy he’s not. As his mum Mandy says: “He’s just like a mini Dougie!” If that’s the case, the new Master Vipond will surely be a regular at Love Street before long, such is his dad’s well documented love affair with his local team. Has being on stage before thousands of fans made Dougie realise his favourite Buddies  —are in his words — “only blokes” Apparently not. I made a complete and utter arse of myself at a St Mirren Supporters’ Association disco at Christmas. I had a few pina coladas too many, and was behaving like a slavering idiot. I was going up to Ian Nicolson and Barry McLaughlin, who I think are incredible players, and making a fool of myself,” he admits.

But his allegiance to Love Street will be secondary to professionalism when he makes his Sportscene first-team debut on September 9. “Footballers on the whole are nice guys and great characters with great stones to tell. That’s one of the things I love most about speaking to them, and I think that should come across on Sportscene.” Having served his time in the lower divisions of TV presenting, Dougie is about to launch himself onto the main stage, presenting alongside TV legends. “I grew up listening to Dougie Donnelly and Archie MacPherson — they are legends. “Now I’m in the position where I can build those kind of memories.” You’d think that with more than three million album sales and countless stadium gigs with Deacon Blue, his desire to be remembered would be well satisfied. He may never have had the chance to play football for Scotland. But he can talk a good game. Paul English