Flying Pigs Return To HMT

Interview with Martin Gallagher

(Aberdeen Performing Arts Magazine. 1/4/11)

The Pigs make a welcome return to HMT this year, what have you been up to since How to Look Good Glaikit in 2009?

During the run of that show we got the green light from the BBC to make a TV pilot of our radio series ‘Desperate Fishwives’, so work on writing that began pretty much straight away. At the same time we were writing series 3 for radio, which went out over Christmas week 2009. We shot the TV pilot at Easter time last year and then later in 2010 we made two festive specials for Radio Scotland, including a Hogmanay show. So there’s always been something to keep us out of mischief.

How long does it take to pull together a Flying Pigs production? From concept through to performance.

The whole process is about 9 months long. We started in earnest on this show at the turn of the year. It starts with deciding what we’re going to call the show, then assembling the material and seeing what we’ve got. The great benefit of doing ‘Desperate Fishwives’ for radio and telly is that it prompts us to write material constantly, as there’s always some new deadline looming. ‘The Silence of The Bams’ will be two hours of the best stuff we’ve come up with since mid 2009, and we must have over 5 hours of songs and sketches to choose from. Then over the next couple of months the writers, Greg, Andrew, Simon, Moray and myself will meet up to thrash out new ideas. Added to that, we always like to have a few topical gags in the show, so there will be some items that won’t be written until much nearer curtain up.

We’ll all get together for a read-through of the material about 16 weeks before the show, to narrow it down a bit and cast the new characters. Then, about 12 weeks in advance, we start our traditional Sunday rehearsals, during which we rely heavily on Stanislawski’s Emotion Memory technique, but rather more heavily on fine pieces and trying to make each other laugh. We’ll step up to two or three times a week as we get nearer to the show.

We stage an out of town preview a few weeks before we get to the theatre, (this year it’s in Inverurie) which helps us iron out any problems, and then we’re on!


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TV, Radio and stage… is it easy enough to adapt your style to change between them? Do you have a favourite medium?

The techniques are all different, and as none of us are trained as actors we’ve had to learn as we go. It’s a question of remembering where the audience is and performing accordingly. In the theatre the reaction (or lack of it!) is immediate, and you can wait for laughs or pick up the pace in response to what the audience is doing. For radio we record in front of a live audience, so there’s an element of playing to the gallery, but it’s important to remember that the main audience is the one listening at home and so there’s a bit less freedom. In TV, of course, you don’t have any audience contact, so the technique I personally deploy is ‘do your best and don’t trip over the cables’.

As for a favorite medium, for me it’s the theatre. And not just because it’s you that’s asking. I have two particular foibles, which infuriate and terrify my fellow Flying Pigs. As a Director I’ve a terrible habit of making cuts or changes up to (and, some would say, after) the last minute, and a nice long run in the theatre allows that kind of flexibility.

As an actor I can, very occasionally, stray from the confines of the script into wee improvisations, which usually end up in the right place, but get there by a circuitous route. In other words, I rarely deliver the same line twice. You can’t do that when you’re shooting a TV sketch on Balnagask Golf course in the teeth of a gale. Well, you can, but the continuity lady gives you into trouble.

Can you tell us a little bit of what we can expect from the show?

Well, for the wholly uninitiated, it’s a comedy revue of sketches and songs performed by 7 Aberdonians who probably ought to know better. We’ve been described as ‘the punk ‘Scotland The What’ which sums it up pretty well.

For those who have seen or heard us before I can confidently predict that the show will feature Archie & Davie, Maurice the Liar, Ruaridh Duguid’s latest travails, a new song from Hilton John as well as new characters in the Bakery Wifies and the first stage appearance of the stars of Mtv (Meiklewartle Television).

But most of all, what everyone can expect is a right good laugh.