Why I Won't Let My Kids Watch Soaps
The Daily Record 11th November 2003

EXCLUSIVE River City's Lorraine McIntosh reveals why EastEnders is out for her children but they can see her in the Scots show I make sure I've got my finger on the mute button for the bits I don't want them to hear

HER hard-hitting role as a reformed drinker has helped boost River City's ratings.

But when it comes to allowing her own daughters to watch the show, actress Lorraine McIntosh keeps a tight grip of the remote control.

``I've not banned them from seeing it, even though I won't let them watch EastEnders at all, '' admits the former Deacon Blue singer.

``But when River City comes on, I make sure I've got my finger over the mute button, and I'll turn off the sound for the bits I don't want them to hear.''

Lorraine's approach might seem strict to some considering River City is transmitted well before the 9 pm watershed.

But she insists the themes in it, and other soaps, are often too adult for kids even though the youngsters are desperate to see them.

It is an issue she and her husband fellow Deacon Blue star Ricky Ross are very much aware of as they raise their daughters Emer, 11, Georgia, nine, and son Seamus, two.

``Kids love soaps, but it is adult and the only way they get to see it is because their mum is in it, '' Lorraine, 38, says.

``I let them watch Coronation Street but not EastEnders. As for River City, I couldn't not let them watch me when their pals at school would say, `I saw yer mum last night', and for them not to know what it was about.

``But I think River City is very grown up for the time it is on.''

Does this worry her? ``I'm realistic about it. These are the storylines soaps have these days and if they don't have them, people won't watch them, '' she replies.

In recent months, the BBC Scotland soap has turned up the intensity of its drama replacing light comedy with darker themes.

The result has been improved ratings. ``When River City started they had storylines about Malcolm Hamilton's doocot, '' Lorraine recalls.

``Well people just don't want to hear about that kind of stuff sadly. They want to hear about rape and alcoholism and wife abuse and all these type of things.

``These are meat and drink to soap that is the playing field you are in.''

Since breaking into acting a few years ago, with a role alongside Peter Mullan in My Name Is Joe, Lorraine has built up an impressive CV including turns in Taggart and Channel 4 drama Psychos.

In River City, Lorraine has had some of the programme's most disturbing and emotional scenes in recent months playing boozy Alice Henderson.

Her character fell off the wagon not long after her return to Shieldinch and the traumatic reunion with her family including Derek (Gordon McCorkell), the son she abandoned as a baby.

THE writers have not pulled any punches with Alice's drinking one episode even featured her losing control of her bladder while slouched in the living room.

At times, it left the actress an emotional wreck.

``It was disturbing to play those scenes. There was one with Alice's son, Derek, when she was pretty awful with him I found that mentally exhausting, '' she admits.

``That was when Derek decided to get drunk with me. So they both end up in a state. When she wakes up she's got the DTs and it is a horrible scene. She is in a really bad way, and he's allupset. It was horrible and ugly she even wet the couch. When they told me about that I said, `oh no, please'. But it was very realistic. People who drink do get into those kinds of states.

``And as an actress, because you have to work yourself up into a state to do it, you go home at night exhausted. There was one weekend when I cried the whole time, it was so draining.''

Watching these scenes with her daughters was a daunting prospect.

``If my daughters ask me questions about what is going on in the programme, I always try to answer truthfully and tactfully, '' she says.

``But they were out playing the night I wet the sofa.

``Although I wouldn't have had a problem with them watching that. Telling them about alcoholism and what happens to people who drink would have been okay. It's the sex stuff that is what is awkward for girls that age.''

Despite these concerns, Lorraine is enjoying her role in River City.

``It is a dream job. If you are an actress and you want to live in Glasgow, you have to accept either not working very much, or working away from home for long periods of time.

``I don't want to do either of those things, so River City is perfect.''

At home, she gets plenty of support from Ricky but she laughs at the suggestion the 45-year-old pop music veteran is her househusband.

``Someone said that about him just because he works from home, but he's busier than I am, '' she says.

``He's been writing songs for a lot of new people, and has two on Ronan Keating's next album.

``He's doing very well, and gets to be creative without the celebrity stuff that goes with it. We had a Mobo award winner in the house the other day a very talented guy.''

The one downside to Lorraine's own life at the moment is that she has to cope with fame again.

``It used to be I'd hear people say, `that's her from Deacon Blue'. Now it's `that's her from River City', '' she says.

``When I am recognised it is generally positive, but it's never been something I'm comfortable with. I've never liked it, not even when I was with the band.

``That was the one downside of joining the show, knowing that I'd be recognised again.

``Ricky is much luckier, he's never recognised by anyone except for a few real Deacon Blue fans.''

BEING a full-time member of the River City cast has restricted the other jobs Lorraine can do.

But early next year she will be seen in Wilbur Wants To Kill Himself, a dark comedy movie starring Scots star Shirley Henderson, which won rave reviews at its premiere in Edinburgh.

And later this month, Lorraine stars in one of the BBC's Tartan Shorts, a smart little comedy called Wise Guys.

Done as a spoof of the classic Robert De Niro gangster film Goodfellas, it's the story of three schoolboys who turn to crime and bunk off their paper run by burying the newspapers instead of delivering them.

Lorraine puts in a terrific comedy performance as their rather unlucky distribution manager.

``They'd seen me do all that crying in River City and thought I'd be ideal for the role, '' she laughs.

``It's a funny little film, and I think Tartan Shorts are a great idea because they give a chance to new directors. The guy who did this one, Adrian McDowall, was really lovely and a great talent.''

And the piece has given Lorraine a taste for comedy.

``I'd love to do more of it, '' she says. ``But River City is full-time so it is hard to do that kind of thing.''

There are plans too for more Deacon Blue gigs and she is relishing the idea of getting on stage again.

``We've got three performances planned for after Christmas, '' she reveals. ``We'll only need a few days rehearsal and we'll have a great time.'' Thomas Quinn