How was it for you? Greg McHugh on winning a Scottish BAFTA

Greg McHugh tells Siân Bevan why his roots may remain strong, but his home is down south. Part of 'How was it for you? - Scottish comedians discuss key events of 2008'

Feature by Siân Bevan | 30 Nov 2008
  • Greg McHugh

Greg McHugh is doing pretty well. After starting life on the Scottish stand-up circuit, he’s now caught in the exciting zone where important people in suits recognise his name, read his scripts and pat him on the back at parties. Some comedy-lovers may know him as his alter-ego Gary: Tank Commander, the perma-tanned soldier with a unique and take on the war in Iraq and Cheesy Pasta. This popular character led to three recent Scottish Bafta nominations, and a win for ‘Gary’s War’ in the Best Entertainment Programme section - an event he describes as a “great honour.”

However, the success of Gary and his creator does lead to some serious questions about the state of the Scottish creative industries. When we speak to McHugh he’s in London, working on new schemes and potential projects, some of which utilise his partnership with Will Andrews. The duo won accolades during the Fringe with a show entitled, imaginatively, Will & Greg and which also led to a Channel 4 pilot. He may be a regular visitor back to his homeland, as his connections to the Glasgow-based Comedy Unit and The Stand hold strong, but the Big Smoke is now his home.

Although many claim to be encouraging the development of new talent in Scotland, the reality is that many performers and writers can’t create a stable career without a move to London. McHugh explains: “I’ve been down here two years and I’ve not been out of work yet. I found Edinburgh really frustrating and although there’s some production in Glasgow, it’s just not enough.”

He adds: “I do not understand why we don’t do more. Edinburgh has needs more money. Some of the things that have come out of Scotland have been so poor, and it’s just because there’s not enough money put in.”

It may feel that we’re missing out up here, by creating such strong talent and then letting it slip away down South. McHugh enthuses: “I’m very happy, I love London - I’ve got a good agent and I’ve got a good network of people down here.” That’s great for him but maybe, just maybe, a land which can produce such gems should invest more in not letting them go.