Kieran Hodgson admits he’s not an angry counterculturalist like Billy Connolly or Frankie Boyle, rocks in hand ready to throw them at windows blocking out the light of change.

“I’m a very solid, conventional person,” says the comedian who delighted in the role as Gordon in BBC sitcom Two Doors Down. “I took very well to institutions (such as Oxford University) and remaining in them for a long while felt very natural. In actual fact, I feel a bit of a fraud amongst comedians.”

He adds, grinning; “I don’t feel the need to punch against authority. In fact, I wish to please the authority. And this certainly doesn’t make me one of the true rebels.”

In his latest stage show, the young man from Last of the Summer Wine country who has made his home in Glasgow sets out to look at the differences between how the Scots and the English go about their business of life. Of course, many others have held up a mirror to our culture, with the result being an image that makes us all look a little Picasso.

Hodgson isn’t trying to channel the Spanish surrealist at all, instead trying to highlight the cultural schizophrenia he has endured/enjoyed since joining his partner in Glasgow. But this must have been tricky, Kieran? You want to have a bit of fun with the Scots, their customs, their language, their mannerisms - but not be seen to go all Edward 1 on them?

The Herald: Kieran Hodgson in Two Doors DownKieran Hodgson in Two Doors Down (Image: free)

“That’s true,” he says. “The tension between the two sides of me is played out by acknowledging that all the bad things in my life are the English things. And in order to become a better human being I need to be more Scottish.”

It’s a clever device. By in making the move in favour of Scottishness his psyche can indeed confront some of our less positive traits.

“It’s a trick as old as the hills,” he concedes. “If you want to say the cheekiest things to people then you have a go at yourself first, which opens the door. Yes, I wanted to prod and poke the foibles of the Scottish personality, but I was well aware that doesn’t go down well if you don’t demonstrate knowledge or sympathy with your subject matter.

“But having said that I’m still on the edge. As much as I have made my home here, I would never say I’m Glaswegian. I’m English, and as annoying as that can be, I’m stuck with it.”

What perspective of Glasgow did he have growing up? It’s changed massively in the past generation, but it was once very angry, dark, sectarian, and homophobic.

“We’ve got to be careful we don’t open the door to sweeping generalisations here,” he suggests, “but I think Glasgow has been hard on itself in the way you’ve been hard on it and its artists are hard on it. I just finished reading Lanark by Alasdair Gray and the Glasgow he writes off is decidedly tortured. But you have to factor in that Glasgow has faced the great hurricanes of change fairly unsheltered, the tremendous transformation of the 19th century becoming rapidly industrialised and then the 20th century becoming rapidly de-industrialised.

“The city bears the scars of those ups and downs, but I think it survives because of its hardiness on the humour with which it copes with it all. And what you have to say about Glasgow is that while there are many dull and humourless cities throughout Britain, Glasgow is not one of them.”

Hodgson thinks it would be ‘foolish’ to ignore the link between economic despair and defiant comedy, but he says there’s more to the city’s laughter content. “There’s a gallusness,” he suggests, “and a willingness to joke, with a humour that comes not from whimsy.

“You see, there’s another form of Glaswegian humour which I also admire, that of Armando Iannucci and Ivor Cutler, who wander into the surreal and delight in fancifulness.”

Indeed. Arnold Brown and the great Chic Murray come into that mix. He smiles. “I’m not familiar with these people. You’ve blown holes in my façade of Scottish comedy knowledge.” Not blown holes, Kieron. Endorsed the argument.

On the subject of comedy styles, Kieron Hodgson’s content is well worthy of analysis. Yes, he doesn’t petrol bomb an audience with statements that will blow minds, but he does creep into the psyche cleverly, planting ideas that will take hold, make an audience laugh and think.


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“It’s maybe a strength – or a weakness – but I want to expand comedy to the remit of things which occur every day while intellectually, I wanted to make a show about Scottish history, culture and perception.”

His past shows include a piece about Lance Armstrong, Britain’s relationship with Europe and the Austrian symphonist Gustav Mahler, (Maestro). “Sometimes people like shows which reflect their own life back at them but equally they like to learn something new. And I like to share the shelves of my library when I go up there on stage.”

Yes, but was he not disappointed when Bradley Cooper nicked his title? “Yes, the lawsuit is currently being prepared,” he said laughing. “But if only I had Bradley Cooper’s looks, I could have made that film. It could have been me.”

Kieran Hodgson was always marked out to be an entertainer. “I wanted to be applauded and laughed at from the age of six or seven, when I would mimic characters on Fawlty Towers or Blackadder to my parents or at family gatherings as a precautious party trick and the attention I'd get from the adults was highly addictive. But I was really convinced the universe would be mine when I won the school talent show doing a routine of impressions.”

He grins as he recalls taking off Tony Blair, William Hague and Charles Kennedy. “I remember scanning the audience looking to see if there were any agents around, such was my overall winning arrogance at that age.”

His parents were encouraging at all times. “But they knew I had decent academic prospects and wanted me to pursue them for as long as long as possible. For me, going to Oxford (and a First Class Honours) was about establishing an insurance policy, in case it all went wrong. I was made very aware that showbiz was incredibly insecure, even if I were talented.”

What of life in Scotland now? Does it feel like home?

“That’s a huge question. I want to understand all the parts of the UK, and not to feel like we’re living in England-Plus. I’m still on the journey of understanding. And I’m really happy to be here, but I can’t pretend to be of here."

He’s aware that independence is a landmine. “Oh yes, and I like to blow it up during the show. It’s good to be cautious, but it’s bad to be cowardly. As an outsider however, you get a bit more latitude. But I like to end in a position of ambiguity, and I don’t want to lecture or preach.”

The Herald: Armando IannucciArmando Iannucci (Image: free)

Hodgson is too clever to take a side. He wants to provoke thought, and laughs, not anger. That’s why you know he’s the perfect person to take on his latest comedy project. It’s a musical about the (very short) life of Liz Truss. The Lettuce. “There’s a plan in place,” he offers. “One song has been written called Day One of Many.”

What of Kieron Hodgson’s future? It’s unlikely that Two Doors Down will continue on television but is almost certain to appear as a stage show, such is the love for the show. And it would be an immense tribute to its late writer Simon Carlyle.

“Alongside the sadness we all felt was this huge sadness that he didn’t get to reap the rewards,” he says of his friend. “He died when I began to do this latest live show at the Edinburgh Festival and all I knew was to continue with it. Yet, it felt very strange in doing so. You try to tell yourself that life will go on and it does, but it was a real lesson that bad things do happen. Life isn’t a story in a book.”

And there is no doubt Simon Carlyle would have wanted his actor pal to carry one in Edinburgh. Hodgson grins: “Yes, he was a tremendously self-deprecating person, and he would have said ‘No, no, don’t be so daft! You go ahead!’ Or so I like to tell myself anyhow.”

How will Kieran Hodgson go ahead? He’s acted in shows such as a Dad’s Army tribute, (as Ian Lavendar) starred in Prince Andrew: the Musical, and he can clearly write. Will he follow Jack Whitehall off to Hollywood? “I would dearly love that,” he laughs, “but I feel I’m halfway up many ladders - and very far from the top of any of them. Maybe I should pick one ladder and climb.”

He adds, grinning. “But I’d never make the claim to be anything other than a middle-class nice boy who does funny voices. Meanwhile, I’ll just try to be interested - and interesting.”

Kieran Hodgson - Big in Scotland, The King’s Theatre, Glasgow, Friday.