Chris Forbes is an award winning actor and stand-up comedian best known for his role as PC Charlie MacIntosh in BBC Scotland’s hit comedy, Scot Squad. Rona Simpson caught up with him in Bernie’s Cafe & Deli last month.
It was great to meet up with Chris for coffee at Bernie’s Cafe & Deli in Bridge of Weir last month – what a lovely chap! We chatted about growing up in small villages, (he decided that ‘Balfron’ – where I’m from – sounded like a good name for a wizard) how he loves coming back to Bridge of Weir where his mum still lives, his comedy inspirations and his plans for next year. Since we met, Chris and the Scot Squad team won themselves a Scottish BAFTA. Well done, guys! Here are all the best bits from our chat…
How or when did you know you were funny?
“I always loved being funny. It sounds stereotypical but I loved being the class clown. I had a real love of comedy in general from an early age. I loved watching old comedy shows with my folks like Morecambe and Wise, Tommy Cooper and my personal favourites, The Two Ronnies.”
Who or what makes you laugh? Do you have an all-time favourite comedian?
“My family make me laugh more than anyone else so I draw a lot of inspiration from them! My all time favourite is Billy Connelly but I also love a whole range of comics like Tommy Tiernan, Dylan Moran, Simon Amstell, Norm Macdonald and musical act Flight of the Conchords.”
Do you get nervous before a gig? Do you have any rituals before you go on?
“I still get nervous which I think is a good sign. If you’re nervous about something, it shows you care about it. However, I’m definitely not as nervous as I was when I started out. I think in any job you reach a level where you become comfortable with your surroundings and that’s no different for stand up.”
You were brought up in Bridge of Weir, how much of this rural upbringing informed your character PC McIntosh in Scot Squad?
“Quite a lot actually! I loved my rural upbringing and so I was lucky to be able to draw on some local characters when it came to Scot Squad. It also helps that a lot of my friends who I went to school with became police officers so I get a lot of great insights from them.”
Your recent Edinburgh Festival show was called Prophecy, can you tell us about the inspiration for this show?
“The show is all about how I met a seemingly homeless man in Glasgow City Centre who claimed to be the son of God. I ended up interviewing the guy and the show is all about our encounter. I’ll be doing the show one more time at the Glasgow Comedy Festival in March 2019”
Your nickname is Funtime Forbsey – are you always up for a perty?
“Haha! I always loved my nickname but it’s come back to haunt me a few times. I did enjoy a good party (and still do) but now that I’m getting older I should change it to ‘Friday Nights In Forbesy’ or something.
You went to Gryffe High School, can you tell us about your pals and/or any stories you can recall from this time?
“Too many to mention really. I have nothing but fond memories of my time there and I still keep in close contact with a lot of my high school friends which is brilliant. Basketball became a huge part of my high school life so that sticks out in my memory too.”
You played basketball internationally in your youth – not a big sport in this country. How did this happen and do you still play?
“It was really all down to one teacher/coach – Mr Lang. He got a few of us interested in the sport when we came up to high school and it just snowballed. He also helped with the process of me going over to America for my last year of high school so I could play over in The States which was a truly incredible experience. Sadly due to many injuries, I no longer play.”
What are your plans for 2019? Are there any more series of Scot Squad scheduled?
“A new series of Scot Squad will air in February 2019 on the new BBC Scotland Channel. I have also written and star in a new mini series for the BBC Iplayer called The Farm. I’ve channelled my rural roots once again and written a sitcom with comic and real life farmer Jim Smith. Hopefully people like it and we get to make more.”
How hard was it to write a sitcom? And can you tell us a bit about this new show?
“It’s a difficult but rewarding process. To create a whole new world with believable characters takes a lot of time, research and re-writes but when it comes together it feels great. The Farm will be an ad hoc documentary style comedy following Jim the farmer, his loyal farm hand Donnie and Jim’s Mother.”
What impact do you reckon will the soon to be launched BBC Scotland channel have on Scottish comedians and writers?
“It’s a great new opportunity for everyone involved in TV – writers, actors, producers, production companies, crew. It’s great news for everyone in the creative arts and fantastic news for Scottish voices to be heard.”
Lastly, do you have a favourite one liner?
“I was sitting at the traffic lights last night…which was daft cos I nearly got run over.”