Deacon Blue Singer Lorraine Reveals How River City Role Was Tough To Bear
Evening Times 4th February 2016

LORRAINE McIntosh reckoned there was more chance of becoming a miner than an actor.

No one from Ayrshire became a performer. Except, she says Lena Zavaroni, the tiny singer who offered the tiniest bit of hope to aspirational school girls.

“There was no one else to look up to,” says Lorraine. “At school however there was a teacher who created a folk band. I wasn’t into folk, particularly. But I’d have sung anything.”

Lorraine has since found huge success as a singer and an actor.
From busking in Glasgow while a student she has become part of iconic Scots band Deacon Blue. Along the way, she’s appeared in a range of stage shows, in films such as My Name Is Joe and on television with River City.

Right now she’s back on stage with Mum’s The Word, in which five actresses perform comedy monologues, all on the theme of motherhood.

It’s a show mums can certainly empathise with. “That’s exactly right,” says the actress in enthusiastic voice.

“It reveals all the problems mums have to contend with in bringing up toddlers or teenagers.

“And what we have to remember is we all live in a Facebook era in which we all share the wonderful pics and great moments.

“But the reality, as we know, is sometimes very different.”

Lorraine does know. Married to Deacon Blue frontman Ricky Ross, the couple have three children.

“I also have a step-daughter, Caitlin, who is very much part of my life, even though she’s very close to her mum, but she’s my fourth child really.”

She adds, grinning; “But I would have liked a fifth.

“I like them when they’re young, all under the one roof. It’s only when they start to move out I find it difficult.

“Going to uni wasn’t so much a problem but Caitlin was in San Francisco last year, our eldest was in Baltimore, the other one in Shanghai and I really worry about them.

“I spend most of my life on Facetime. The problem is they phone you in the middle of the night because of the different time zones, and you comfort them and then stay awake worrying.

“By morning, another one will call, from another time zone and the process starts all over again.

“What really worried me was that if anything had gone wrong, I wouldn’t have been able to get there for at least 24 hours. It was a nightmare.”

Were there ever concerns about career/life balance?

“We didn’t have our first child until the band was successful, and that meant when we went on tour we had a nanny. And we were living really well, with no cooking.

“But having said that I wouldn’t hand the baby over to the nanny at nights. The only time I did was on long flights when I was totally knackered.

“It wasn’t until we had our second that it got tricky, two kids, big long flights to the likes of Japan, and it became hard work. But at least we had the financial back-up.

“I really feel for actor pals who are struggling and they have families, but go out to work when they can and have to put the kids into nursery.”

She adds in pensive voice; “I’m totally aware that success cushioned our reality. But after Georgia was born the band stopped for five years and I did nothing.

“Then I began acting with the Ken Loach film (My Name Is Joe). When the girls were about nine/ten they came to gigs and just sort of accepted what we did.”

Do they know she once busked on the streets of Glasgow?

“I don’t actually know,” she says, smiling. “But I guess at one point they’ll ask questions as to how it all happened.”

Do they grasp the level of success the band has had? “No, but here’s the thing; last year I was driving Seamus to the train and we were listening to Chris Evans on Radio Two.

“Evans played Raintown and said ‘This is from one of the best albums ever recorded’ and Seamus said ‘Wow! Did he really mean that?’ And I said ‘I think so.’ It was great to see the delight on his face.”

McIntosh’s acting career grew, and ran parallel with the band. However the BBC soap River City experience wasn’t all positive, playing the vodka dependent Alice Henderson.

“I enjoyed being in the show but I didn’t enjoy the impact it had on the kids. My eldest daughter was in First Year when I began and I remember going along to parent’s night and it was awful.

“Some of the other kids would be saying ‘Oh, is that your mum? I’ve seen her on River City.’ Then they would add; ‘Is your mum an alkie?’

“When it came to Second Year, she asked me not to come to parent’s night. That really wounded me. I thought ‘Oh, no. That’s not right.’

“The difference with being in a band is that those who come to the concerts like you. If you do a soap like River City then people love or hate you. And some can’t separate you from the character you play.”

Did she ever buy books on bringing up children?

“I’m quite a confident person, some would say bossy, but I did buy one book; Toddler Training.

“It was quite helpful, but bringing kids up is common sense; it’s about not giving in when they’re bad, it’s about praising them when they’re good and enjoying them as much as you can.”

She breaks into a laugh; “I did love Supernanny on TV, and I remember one Christmas we put Seamus on the naughty bench, as we called it, but we forgot all about him, all through dinner.

What of the future? Lorraine will be back touring with the band, but wants to act more. Does this mean she and her husband will be arm wrestling a little?

“Yes, a wee bit more this year. We’re looking at summer gigs, but they could stop me doing the Edinburgh Festival.

“Yet, I’ve had such fun with the band in recent years. And I’ve got a very good life. I get to do two things I love. How can I complain?” Brian Beacom