Edinburgh Spotlight recently interviewed Forth One DJ, panto star and ‘Mr Lothian Buses’ Grant Stott.
We arrived 15 minutes early at Forth One’s offices in Forth Street and expected to have to wait until Grant finished his daily show before meeting him. Instead, the receptionist made a quick call then ushered us politely into his studio where we found ourselves standing and watching Grant whilst he finished his show live on air!
Once that was complete, he took us into an empty studio, and the interview began.
With Christmas fast approaching, we began by asking him about his by-now traditional panto appearances at the Kings. This year – as ever – he appears as the villain in the production Robinson Crusoe and the Caribbean Pirates.
“I’m proud to be part of the Kings and the Scottish pantomime scene”, Grant says, “and this will be my 10th in a row in Edinburgh.”
Prior to that, he appeared in pantomimes in Glagsow, starring with the likes of Christopher Biggins. When the panto scene flattened out a little, Glasgow took the decision to stage a show with a 100% Scottish cast; something which Edinburgh soon followed, and Grant with it, quickly capitalising on his stage presence to step into the shoes of the bad guy.
“Playing the villain is something I love” says Grant. “One of the best things about it is the reaction I get offstage – I’m booed all year round!”
He also relishes the opportunity to deliver lines such as “I’m cancelling Christmas!” to a theatre full of excited children and then lap up the boos and hisses which greet him in return.
Grant has struck up a good friendship with co-star and Edinburgh panto veteran Alan Stewart, who he states is very generous performer and one who he’s constantly joking around with and playing tricks on. He recounts one tale in a previous panto where they had a carefully-rehearsed routine involving Stewart having to catch one plate whilst holding a stack of others. Grant thought it would be amusing to place a broom handle between Stewart’s feet: who then tripped, fumbled the catch, dropped the lot and missed the routine’s punchline as a result!
As well as that, he has suffered many other mishaps, such as appearing onstage without a microphone and – in one memorable occasion – falling headfirst into the front row of the audience. All part of the great Kings’ panto experience…
Appearing in panto at the Kings is a privilege and a treat for Grant, especially as it is a venue he used to visit as a boy with his late grandmother. To this day, before stepping out onstage, he has a tradition of finding a quiet moment to think of her and say: “I’m here, Nana”.
Moving on from the panto, we asked about the other aspects of Grant’s career. Radio DJ, TV presenter, newspaper columnist, charity worker, after-dinner speaker: this is a man of many talents and pursuits, so we wondered if there was one field he preferred above the rest?
“I love everything!” he replied. “Radio got me started, TV has brought me a lot of pluses and writing for the Evening News challenges me to come up with 800 words every week.” That said, the speaking engagements are something he is keen to pursue further, and he is working on building up his experience in this field.
Charities are also close to Grant’s heart, and he takes every opportunity to promote children’s causes such as SiMBA (the Simpsons Memory Box Appeal) and the Sick Kids Hospital; as well as charities such as Marie Curie and St Columba’s Hospice.
“Being able to help a charity is a privilege” he says. “I can take what I do on a daily basis and use that to help them out.”
So, what does Grant love most about Edinburgh?
“I love taking the dogs up Blackford Hill or riding on the bike through the Hermitage. Edinburgh is affected by the roadworks at the moment, but it’s compact and still easy to travel around – you’re never too far away from where you want to get to.”
And if he had 24 hours to spend in the city before leaving forever?
“Wow,” he pauses, thinking, then laughs. “See Hibs at Easter Road! Then I’d visit old family homes where Nana and others used to live. I’d lunch at the Mussel and Steak Bar in the Grassmarket and finish the day off with dinner at Rhubarb at Prestonfield.”
As Grant showed us back upstairs to Forth One’s reception, we asked about his ubiquitous presence on the back of Lothian Buses.
“The things I do to get a free bus pass” he laughs.
And will his face will ever grace the back of a tram?
“You never know!” he replies smiling, before bidding us farewell and immediately moving on to the next appointment in a typically busy Grant Stott day.
A genuinely nice, warm and funny person, Edinburgh Spotlight would like to thank Grant Stott for his time and insights and we look forward to booing and hissing at him soon at the Kings!
You can catch Grant in the King’s Theatre pantomime, Robinson Crusoe and the Carribean Pirates from 28th November until 17th January 2010.