From ‘The Thick of It’ to ‘Caledonia’
Scottish actor Paul Higgins rose to fame with his portrayal of foul-mouthed government spin doctor ‘Jamie’ on political satire, ‘The Thick of It’ and spin off movie, ‘In The Loop.’
Originally destined for a life in the Priesthood, Paul has since gone on to become one of Scotland’s most praised and recognisable actors.
His Thick of It character, Jamie, was originally not meant to be angry but during improvisation Paul admits to ‘acting a bit mad’ and really going for it. Producer Armando Iannucci was impressed enough to change the character to suit Paul’s new approach and to include him in more episodes than the original plan of Paul describes the unique working methods enjoyed by the cast of the hit BBC show.
“Armando is strict only in the sense that we must improvise in rehearsals to a basic script. Then the writer will go away, rewrite sections and on the day we will shoot that script. However, once we have a scene in the can, Armando expects us to redo it only this time improvising and playing fast and loose with the script. Sometimes this method will give us unexpected and hilarious material.”
Paul admits that,
“I never expected to be in it for so long. I didn’t think they would continue with two angry Scottish characters. I was even going to be cut out of the final version of the In The Loop until the UK Film Council saw my part and asked for it be put back in.’
He does concede that appearing in the show is one of the highlights of his career and that if they wanted him back he would jump at the chance.
For now though, aside from writing his own plays, Paul is set to star at the Edinburgh festival in the play ‘Caledonia.’ This is the story of William Paterson. Born in Dumfriesshire back in 1658 Paterson founded the Bank of England and led a legendary expedition to South America. His plan was to make Scotland an independently wealthy country with a colony in Panama. He would build a road linking the Atlantic and Pacific oceans through which all global trade would pass (this is now the area which the Panama Canal runs through.)
Unfortunately the expedition ended in failure with massive loss of life. As a consequence of this, on his return to Britain, Paterson would ultimately encourage the formation of the United Kingdom.
While the experience of live theatre is Paul’s favourite area of acting he does admit that making The Thick of It and In The Loop runs it pretty close.
Caledonia runs at the Edinburgh Festival from August 21st to 25th at the Kings Theatre
Really hope Armando finds a way to include Jamie in Series 4. He might be my favourite character on the show, even more than Malcolm as blasphemous as that may sounds. His theatre work has always been great, and I'm sure his run on Caledonia is gonna be great. If anyone is heading up north for the festival, be sure to catch the show.
And as a bonus here's some of Paul's best work as Jamie during the series. Hit the cut for his best clips from In the Loop