River City's Real Gone Kid
Daily Record 16th October 2002

Deacon Blue girl Lorraine finds a new lease of life in Shieldinch

FORMER Deacon Blue singer Lorraine McIntosh will be a first foot with a difference for new BBC soap River City.

As recovering alcoholic and heroin addict Alice Henderson, Lorraine will blow the squabbling Henderson family apart when she pitches up in Shieldinch for the first time on Hogmanay.

She's the mother that teenager Derek has never known ... and the former wild child that her grumpy father George hoped he'd seen the back of.

It's a dream role for Lorraine, who is married to her former band-mate Ricky Ross. Together with Dougie Vipond - now a sports presenter on TV - Graeme Kellings, James Prime and Ewen Vernal Deacon Blue became a chart-topping band, producing such hits as Dignity and Real Gone Kid.

Deacon Blue ended in 1994 and now Lorraine, a mum of three has been wooed by BBC Scotland bosses to bring some much-needed oomph to the new soap. Lorraine, 38, said: "It's a brilliant part and I couldn't wait to say yes when they asked.

"I know there's been a bit of a critical backlash about River City, but like everyone else, I think it only needs a bit of time to make an impression on people.

"By the time I make my first appearance, I think the audience will feel they are really starting to know the Hendersons and the other families there."

Alice's return to the Henderson family fold packs an emotional wallop - pregnant at 16, she was packed off to London by her furious father once she'd given birth to baby Derek.

Having succumbed to drink and drugs, a now-sober Alice is returning to her roots to face her demons.

Lorraine said: "In the first week, I had to do all these emotionally draining scenes as Alice was reunited with her parents and brother and she met her own son for the first time.

"By the end of the week, I was knackered. I spent all day crying and I couldn't figure out why. Then my pal said it was obviously acting in those really heavy scenes that had done it.

"She was right. I wasn't able to switch off from it. My parents are both dead, so I was trying to get my head round what it would be like to be reunited with your parents, how that would feel. No wonder I was crying."

Joining the cast in August, three months after they had started shooting the series, Lorraine admits she felt like the new girl at school.

But she was quickly made to feel at home and says she's built up a great rapport with the actors who play her family - John Murtagh as dad George, Jo Cameron Brown as mum Moira, Paul Samson as brother Raymond and young Gordon McCorkell as her son Derek.

She said: "John is brilliant and great to work with. The scenes where Alice meets her father again were very traumatic.

"I know men like George - he's bitter about life in general and disappointed by his family. John is nothing like that in real life, he's a total charmer, but once the cameras roll, he turns into this torn-faced git."

Lorraine reckons she has quite a lot in common with her screen alter ego, heroin and alcohol addictions apart.

She left her home in the Ayrshire town of Cumnock as a teenager and knows that it's difficult, if not impossible, to go back and feel at home.

Lorraine said: " I can relate to Alice - she left home at 16 and has eventually done all right for herself.

"She's now trying to go back and have a relationship with these people and it's very hard. They know nothing about her as an adult.

SHE added: "I don't have family alive in Cumnock, but I sometimes go back and walk round the town. And I just feel as though I'm from a different world.

"I went at Christmas on my own. It was amazing - Cumnock was covered in snow and looked fantastic. I wanted to walk round the shopping centre, but I didn't have the courage.

"I wanted to be part of it and pretend I was, but you can't go back.

"For Alice, it's much worse because when she was there, she was this terribly screwed- up person.

"She's now re-introducing herself to all these people and she's actually very sorted.

"Mind you, she is a bit right-on. And she annoys me at times because she wants her son to come to London with her and I'm like `hold on a minute, you did abandon him for 16 years, have a bit of sensitivity!'." While Lorraine is obviously best known for Deacon Blue, she made quite an impact with her first acting role in Ken Loach's award- laden My Name Is Joe.

Cameo roles in the likes of Taggart and Psychos followed, along with a theatrical tour in Mum's The Word earlier this year.

None of that, however, can compare to winning a leading role in a prime- time soap.

Having three kids - Emer, 10, eight-year-old Georgia and Seamus, 19 months - adds more than a dash of unpredictability to the mix, as Lorraine knows.

She said: "After the first couple of weeks, I thought `I can't do this'.

"The scenes were so heavy and I was working from half seven in the morning until half seven at night.

"I thought `I can't do it, I've got a baby and I want to see him, I want to have breakfast with him'.

"But I knew it would calm down and that I wouldn't be the focus all the time. Now it's almost the perfect job for a working mother."

Having spent almost a decade touring and making hit records with Deacon Blue, Lorraine fell into an acting career by accident.

Old friend Paul Laverty, who wrote the script for My Name Is Joe, recommended her to director Ken Loach.

The film-maker had no idea that Lorraine had been in a successful pop band and cast her alongside Peter Mullan and Louise Goodall.

Lorraine laughs as she recalls Ken Loach's bemusement at her fame as she signed autographs on the set in Glasgow.

She said: "Of course Ken had never heard of Deacon Blue and I don't think he would have hired me if he'd realised I was so well- known.

"But being in a film was unbelievable for me. I'd never really thought about acting and even when I did My Name Is Joe, I felt I was too old to make that my new career."

Lorraine says Ricky is thrilled at the new direction she's taking, even though it means he's got more nappies to change at home while she's off at the River City set in Dumbarton.

She said: "Ricky is totally supportive of whatever I choose to do, like most decent people would be.

"He'd actually love me to do more theatre. Ricky's a huge fan of theatre, so he was happier when I was doing Mum's The Word because he loved being backstage at the theatre, darling, hanging out with the thesps."

Lorraine says she's unconcerned with the lukewarm critical response River City has had and remains convinced that all the soap needs is time to make the right impact with viewers.

She said: "I expect I'll be criticised, too. Just be gentle with me, though!"

Frances Traynor