There is no such thing as an ordinary face - and if you think there is, you aren't looking close enough.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Chasing Elaine C. Smith

Elaine C. Smith is a Scottish actress, comedian and author. I first saw her in a comedy sketch show back in the 80s called Naked Video, but she probably became best known for her role as Mary Nesbitt, playing the wife in the Scottish comedy series, Rab C. Nesbitt. But she’s also toured in the stage show of Calendar Girls, and has now released a book called “Nothing Like a Dame”.

Whenever I’ve seen her interviewed, she’s always come across as a strong, intelligent and very funny person, but down to earth and without pretension. So when I saw she was to be appearing at the Wigtown Book Festival, she jumped to the top of my wish-list for photographing for the walls of The Hut.

I knew her event was at 6pm on Thursday, and I was told by Festival staff she’d probably be taken to the Writer’s Retreat upon arrival, so from 3pm, I asked a couple of people to text me if she arrived.

At 4.30pm, I just took my laptop up to the Writer’s Retreat to edit photos and make sure I didn’t miss her.

By 5.30pm I realised even if she arrived now, she wouldn’t have time for a photograph.

By 5.50pm, a lot of people were getting worried about why there was still no sign of her.

Fortunately for the Festival, she arrived a few minutes later and the event was only 5 minutes late in starting. She blamed several slow tractors on the road on the journey down.

The talk was funny, entertaining and thoughtful, but then she was doing book signings. And then she would be taking part in the Wigtown Book Festival Auction at 8pm, and by this time it was far too dark to photograph her anyway.

My only option was to chat to her between the book-signing and the auction, which meant walking with her between venues, pitching the project and trying to get her to agree to be involved the following day before she left.

She was involved in a BBC Radio Scotland Debate event that would be finished at 1pm on Friday, and she assured me I could take her photo then.

Given the fobbing off I’d received from Martin Bell at the beginning of the Festival, I was taking no chances, so at 12.50pm I was sitting on the steps outside the venue and as soon as the doors opened to let people out, I squeezed in and made my way up to the stage.

I was rather relieved she still seemed up for it, and once we found her husband, Bob, the 3 of us headed over to The Hut.

And she was great.

Sometimes you meet people who have a public persona and as soon as they are out of the spotlight they are very different people. But I have to say Elaine appears to be pretty much the same in person in the flesh. She was friendly, engaging, seemed interested in the project and when it came to taking the photo gave me a fantastic intense glare down the lens. Bob was wonderful too, and I got his face for the wall as well.

They even decided they’d like a copy of the photos, so I swapped them for a signed copy of Elaine’s book.



As usual, to view the latest images and the entire collection so far, visit the Facebook or Flickr photo collections.


  1. You have to admire a man willing to take a risk for his art. :)

    Funny thing is, Bob's was one of the faces that "grabbed" me with the thought, "Now THAT looks like a nice guy!"

    Hope you're getting a little rest.

  2. No time to rest just yet. I had my busiest day of the Festival with photos. Which is slightly unfortunate, because I can't go home until I've edited them all, printed them, and stapled them to the wall...


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