Feb 9 2010 by Andrew Welsh, Perthshire Advertiser Tuesday
TIMES are anything but dull these days for star-gazer Neve McIntosh.
Currently starring at Perth Theatre alongside the hero of a classic science fiction series of yesteryear, the Gormenghast and Bodies star is set for a place in the spotlight when a new hopeful takes on the genre’s most famous role later this year.
Edinburgh-raised Neve (38) will be appearing in two episodes of the next series of Dr Who beside new time-traveller Matt Smith.
It’s a dream-come-true for the sci-fi fan, who reckons the latest occupant of the Tardis has the potential to out-strip his predecessors Christopher Eccleston and David Tennant.
She said: “I think he’s going to be really good, the best yet out of the new guys.
“The stories have got a bit darker. I play twins, and they’re big lizardwarrior women.
“They’re one of the Silurian tribes that have been undisturbed under the earth. And of course we get disturbed.
“It’s the first time I’ve worn prosthetics but I’m still recognisable if you know me well enough.
“But there’ll probably be lots of people going, ‘Who the hell is that?’”
Neve, who also appears alongside Welsh actor Robert Pew and The Kumars at No 42’s Meera Syal, impresses as a genuine Who expert.
She confessed: “I remember the end of Jon Pertwee and the awesome Tom Baker, who were bridged by Sarah-Jane.
“A friend gave me a copy of the first Silurian story with Jon and the Sea Devils, and they came back later with Peter Davison. It’s great. I love Dr Who.”
Of more immediate importance, however, is her role as Catherine in Perth Theatre’s version of David Auburn’s Proof, which runs until Saturday.
She plays a young woman devoted to the care of her brilliant but unstable father in the Pulitzer Prize-winning mystery.
A small but strong cast is headed up by Gareth Thomas, who played the title role in the late-Seventies TV space adventure Blake’s 7.
Neve declared: “It’s brilliant. I vaguely met him (Gareth) at a friend’s wedding and it was fantastic ‘cos I’m a massive fan.
“When I told my brother I was coming up to do this he was like, ‘Oh yeah, what’s it like do you have to get your clothes off? I’m not coming to see you if you have to do that again.’
“And when I mentioned that Blake was my dad he was like (excitedly), ‘Okay, well, can you sort me outtickets.’
“So I thought that’s great, he doesn’t come to see me he comes to see the Blake’s 7 guy!
“Helen Logan who plays my sister is just awesome. We get on so well so we’re able to get a real rapport going on stage.
“Ewan [Donald] is a lot of fun too, and it’s just been nice having a small cast. It’s been intimate and we’ve all had a laugh and got on with the work.
“We’re working on split-levels and there’s one bit where I’m worried I’m going to fall off the back of the set.
“I’ve had to look over my shoulder a few times ‘cos I don’t think it would work if I was in plaster!
“It would have been nice to do three weeks here. A play always changes, no matter what. It’s always nice to give it enough time to find everything.
“But we’re having fun and the audience is having fun watching us, so hopefully the word will spread and more people will come to see it.”
The football fan was asked to appear in Proof by Perth Theatre director Ian Grieve.
She said: “The play is just fantastic, and it’s always nice when someone is thinking of you.
“It’s a great part and we didn’t realise how funny the play is until we started getting audiences in.
“It’s also tragic and about families and inter-relationships but also trust and faith. It’s got everything in there, like a slice of life.”
The film version of Proof appeared five years ago starring Anthony Hopkins and Gwyneth Paltrow as Catherine.
Most people would imagine they’d be a hard act to follow, but Neve claims the Hollywood production passed her by.
The Hibernian supporter said: “I didn’t see the film and I hadn’t heard of it!
“I’ll go and watch it after we’re finished. People always draw comparisons but you can’t really hold that in your head, you’ve just got to get on with your version.
“I’ll see what Gwyneth’s done with it later ‘cos it would twist my head watching the movie now.”
Appearing in Proof represents a kind of homecoming for the Paisley-born actress, who worked at Perth Theatre before she got her big television break in Psychos in 1999.
Neve explained: “Perth was one of my first jobs out of college. It was quite a number of years ago now, around ‘95 or ‘96 and it’s been nice meeting folk I haven’t seen for years.
“Ralph Reoch was in the other night and I remember going to his for tea and sitting doing a crossword with him when he used to live by the Tay.”
Psychos was filmed in a former psychiatric hospital in Croydon and served as the ideal preparation for her later, acclaimed performance as nurse Donna Rix in medical drama Bodies, beside Max Beesley and Keith Allen.
The series highlighted the talents of writer Jed Mercurio before it was abruptly axed by the BBC.
Neve recalled: “It was filmed in another crumbling old hospital. Bits were falling off the ceilings and lots of spooky people were getting spooked out by the corridors.
“It was a shame we didn’t get one last six-part series. You could see Jed had ideas but he wasn’t allowed to properly develop them in the end.
“We all felt a bit short-changed. Some of our style and storylines were starting to get ripped off by Casualty and Holby City so we knew we were having an effect.”
Fun-loving Neve, who enjoys power-kiting and scuba diving, described her appearance in a recent episode of Casualty as “a wee bit weird”.
She laughed: “It was good being a patient and they actually did put my foot in a stookie but you don’t see it!
“They wheeled me away and then back in a wheelchair with my leg in plaster but I didn’t actually need it!
“They always have two storylines in an episode, so there was a bit less for me to get my teeth into than I’m used to. I like hogging the camera!”
However, it’s still the lavish, all-star fantasy series Gormenghast that Neve is best known for.
She describes the BBC production, in which she played Lady Fuchsia Groan alongside Jonathan Rhys Myers, Christopher Lee, the late Ian Richardson and Celia Imrie as “hugely important” in her career.
Neve remembered: “Christopher Lee was awesome and I got to shout at him!
“I felt like hiding afterwards - I shouted at Dracula! He’s really into The Wickerman, which I loved, and we sat and spoke about that.
“Jonathan was great, and he’s beautiful as well. I don’t know if I’ll ever be in the kind of company again.
“I would love to sit in a room again, looking round s*** scared going, ‘Oh my God, oh my God’, but we’ll wait and see what happens.
“It did feel as though I was plucked from obscurity to play such a massive role, the sort of ultimate, weird fantasy princess.”
Although the Martin Scorsese fan missed out after auditioning recently for a part in an as-yet-unreleased film by another of her directorial heroes, Clint Eastwood, she’s clearly not short of offers.
TV work may be relatively thin on the ground following the recession, but in-demand Neve recently completed the low budget, Liverpool-based big screen shocker Salvage, which earned her a ‘best-actress-in-horror’ award.
Another movie outing was the black comedy The Be All and End All, which she describes as “a brilliant little film”.
She revealed, enthusiastically: “I play the mother of a teenage boy whose best friend has a terminal illness and they get up to all sorts of shenanigans.
“It’s funny and heart-warming and has gone down well at all the festivals.”
Neve cites Helen Mirren and Judi Dench as among her favourite actresses, and describes Cate Blanchett as “the best in the world at the minute”.
She admits she would love to work again with her Psychos co-star Douglas Henshall and his chum, Perthshire’s own Ewan McGregor.
But looking ahead Neve just hopes to enhance her reputation on stage, television and in film.
She said: “They’re all great for their own reasons.
“You’re out on your own on stage and if you’re losing a live audience you can pull them back, something you don’t have control over in an edit suite.
“You’ve got more control in theatre but I love going to premieres and seeing myself up there (laughs) and being able to see my work.
“At first it was really hard to watch myself but I’m a much better actress now than I was then.
“I would love to do more of everything, really. I’m quite conceited in that way, that I want to be the best.
“I’ve not done musicals since I was in college and I’d love to do Cabaret, that’s my favourite. It’s a bit more weird and wonderful.”
Neve won’t say exactly what else she’s got lined up, other than referring to a couple of “exciting” projects, one on stage and another on television.
Could either be more “weird and wonderful” than playing lizard warrior twins? Now that would really be something. . .
Neve appears in Proof at Perth Theatre until Saturday. Tickets are available from 01738 621031 or www.horsecross.co.uk