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Variety is the spice of life for Warwick

A youthful looking fortysomething, Keith Warwick is Mr Showbiz in a way few performers are these days. You may remember him from long-running STV soap Take the High Road.

A youthful looking fortysomething, Keith Warwick is Mr Showbiz in a way few performers are these days. You may remember him from long-running STV soap Take the High Road.

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He's probably even more familiar as Trent in children's TV series My Parents are Aliens. If you are reading this in Ayrshire, you will recall him as a stalwart of the Ayr Gaiety pantomimes (although he was poached by Eden Court in Inverness this past season). One of the things Warwick was born to do was play Buttons in Cinderella.

Not as far from that role as might be imagined was his position as Johnny Rotten in seminal tribute band The Scottish Sex Pistols, an outfit which reverentially folded when the original foursome reassembled. For a while, the real John Lydon was involved in the set-up with the Scottish imitators. Warwick is most entertaining about the surreal experience of having his Johnny Rotten critiqued by the real one. His Lydon accent is, of course, spot on.

In the person of Keith Warwick, Variety is not only not dead, it is looking positively boyish. So when Glasgow's Pavilion Theatre proclaims itself Scotland's National Theatre of Variety with an event on May 10, he is naturally on the bill.

And shortly Warwick, who has made and appeared in a couple of short films along the way, will be making his first feature film, alongside Christopher Lee and - it is rumoured - Joan Collins.

For the moment the focus is on the songs he will be playing to the enthusiasts for Scottish variety at the Pavilion. They were also heard by old Gaiety fans at Beanscene in Ayr last week and aired at the launch event for his debut EP, Based on Actual Events, in front of a gathering of Scottish rock and theatre glitterati at Glasgow's Admiral Bar earlier this month.

With an album, Remember to Breathe, already recorded and only in need of a little revision, the time is ripe for a label to pick up on this side of the many-faceted Warwick and the music he has made with partner Simone Welsh and the rhythm section from Glasgow rock'rollers The Bottleneckers.

"We seem to have done things the other way round, since it is normal to play gigs and then make an album," concedes Warwick. But time is precious and that impression only applies here at home. Some of the songs were honed during a three-month spell he and Simone had in New York City, playing in clubs on the Lower East Side like the Living Room. On the evidence of the four tracks on the EP, it was a period of fruitful workshopping. These are catchy, clearly personal, but usually politically-nuanced songs that lodge firmly in the brain. Playboy of the Western World is a nod to Warwick's stage persona, but the melodic History is closer to home.

On stage, he is in his element. Not exactly lacking in confidence, Warwick is unconcerned with adopting any stance of rock'n'roll cool.

"I loved doing panto. It's like Gladiators - the kids are really ruthless, and I get a real buzz out of that."

Put that alongside playing punk's progenitors and it is easy to see why performing his own songs in a small club holds no fears.

That forthcoming movie, however, may introduce a whole new constituency to the many sides of Warwick. He has been cast in director Robin Hardy's long-promised sequel to his 1973 cult classic The Wicker Man, based on the novel he published a few years back. The middle film of a projected trilogy, it is the story of visiting American musicians who find themselves at the mercy of a bunch of cannibalistic pagan Scots. Warwick has not only been cast in the movie, he has recorded the theme tune with musical director, Keith Easdale.

Although shooting has been due to begin of Cowboys for Christ for over a year, Warwick expects to be working in the same Dumfrieshire locations as were used for The Wicker Man next month. Based on Actual Events is available now. Keith Warwick plays Maydaze at the Old Fruitmarket on Sunday at 2pm.

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