Lorraine McIntosh looks remarkably composed for a woman who’s now begun to decompose.
Her death was announced last week -- in a soap sense of course -- when River City’s Alice Henderson’s time on this earth was dramatically halted by a speeding car and its wet remoulds. Yet, in spite of being unceremoniously written out of the soap the actress and singer seems perfectly sanguine. “There seems little chance of them asking me back now,” says the lady who was born in the East End of Glasgow, grinning. “But I’m not bothered. For the first two years at River City I had a great time. I loved the people I was working with, I made great friends and I had great storylines. But I didn’t enjoy the last two years.”
She pauses and adds: “Last year my agent asked if I was interested in going back, and would make inquiries. “But I said no because I figured it would have been a backward step. Looking back, my work there also affected things with Deacon Blue; we’d get asked to do gigs and I couldn’t always get the time off. “And next year there are lots of things lined up with the band.”
There’s another reason why the lady, who’s married to Deacon Blue frontman Ricky Ross, is happy to have said goodbye to Shieldinch. She’s set to star in a new play, Beautiful Burnout, produced by the National Theatre of Scotland. The play has a boxing backdrop and it looks at the reasons why young working class men get into boxing and why parents often push their sons to take up a sport that can see them become badly hurt. Lorraine plays Carlotta, a single mum who works at the Vodaphone store and wants the most for her son, Cameron (Ryan Fletcher) who happens to be handy with his fists. She realises he has the potential to become a boxing success, but is fearful for him. At the same time, she comes to appreciate that boxing gyms provide more than punchbags and skipping ropes.
“There’s a real, nurturing, loving, atmosphere going on in these gyms, between the young boxers and the older boys, or their trainers,” says the actress. “These trainers often act as father substitutes, where there is no real role model at home. And the gyms offer young boys discipline and respect for themselves and their bodies. Plus, it gives them a reason to get up in the morning.” So you would send your nine-year-old son to a boxing gym? “No, I wouldn’t,” she says quickly. “I’m very much against boxing. But I had two older brothers and when I was growing up there was nothing happening where we lived, in Kilmarnock. If there had been a boxing gym they would have been there for sure. It would have kept them right.”
Playing Carlotta clearly takes Lorraine back to a world she knows well. And she’s happy with that. “This is a big commitment for me. My kids are on holiday in Italy, but I’m working and it suits me. She’s a great character to play, a real joy.” There’s another bonus. “We’ve all been doing circuit training, and I’ve been boxing as well,” she says, smiling. “It’s about empathy, understanding what boxers go through and an actor’s shared experience.” The smile breaks into a laugh; “But there was little concession to the fact that I’m a 46-year-old woman. Still, I’ve got muscles now. And I’m fitter than I’ve ever been.”
Beautiful Burnout, Pleasance Forth, Edinburgh, August 4-29. The Tramway, Glasgow, September 2-11.