HeadLine: Standing over a corpse with bluebottles in your ears isn’t
the nicest way to spend a day
The Mirror, 26/05/2001, p14
by SHAUN MILNE
TELEVISION hardman Ken Stott has spent years facing down some of the
most vicious crooks in Britain.
He has fought his own personal demons – the bottle, himself – and
confronted crimes which would turn any normal man’s stomach.
His latest TV project, Messiah, is no different.
It is the stuff of nightmares. A gritty, dark thriller to keep telly
fans on the very edge of their seats with the lights switched on and
front door double locked.
But Stott – the best Taggart we’ve never had – admits he wants to give
it all up so he can have a laugh.
He craves a role in comedy to lift the blackness which has engulfed his
career so far.
Not that he regrets his roles in The Vice and similar projects. It’s
just he finds he is becoming affected by the characters he plays. They
are taking over.
In Messiah, which starts tonight on BBC1, Stott plays a hard-nosed
detective investigating a dozen horrific murders in a Bank Holiday
In one scene, a swarm of huge bluebottle flies attack him as he
examines a rotting corpse.
Ken, 46, told the Scottish Mirror: “I’m often asked if I take my work
home and in the past I’ve always said ‘no’.
“But I have to admit that seeing supposedly dead bodies day after day
in Messiah did get to me.
“We don’t glorify the murders and the camera will only expose a glimpse
of what I saw.
“But although it wasn’t real, it seemed pretty real to us filming it.
“The violence was truly shocking and the acts of murder are very hard
“One day, I had to open a door and walk into a plague of flies.
Bluebottles in your ears over a decomposing corpse is not the most
pleasant way to spend your day.
“I can’t wait to do some comedy.”
The two-part thriller is adapted from Boris Starling’s best-selling
Ken added: “It’s a cracking good story which is what people want.
“I don’t often read thrillers but there was something about this script
that was simply ‘unputdownable’ and that’s a quality which you don’t
“Boris Starling has captured a formula to keep us on the edge of our
Unravelling his character – DCI Red Metcalfe, who once turned in his
own brother for murder – was a great challenge.
Ken said: “Red is a man who has a past, a horrendous past.
“The depth of his character attracted me to it.
“At various stages in the film there are chances to show the turmoil
and problems that he has, and the baggage he carries. The burden is
“He’S a highly professional individual, which you have to be if you are
“He faces political pressure, peer pressure and media pressure.
“All these things he has to recognise. To be able to show that within
the stature of a fast and furious thriller is very exciting.
“Red is investigating an extraordinary case and the pressure to stop
these progressive killings is intense.
“Red is brilliant at his job, but he’s a man struggling with his own
internal dramas and only just holding it all together.
“How far can he go before he snaps?”
Messiah also gave Ken the chance to work with a “high-class cast”.
He said: “I enjoyed working with Frances Grey and Jamie Draven. In
fact, Frances is from my home town of Edinburgh.
“And It was a pleasure working with Michelle Forbes. She is a
“Her character, Susan, is deaf and I watched with interest as Michelle
worked on her sign language. It’s a tough job to do in barely two
Ken also became friendly with former Cracker star Kieran O’Brien, who
plays his estranged brother Eric – even though Kieran opted to stay in
character and ignore Ken on set.
He said: “One day we were filming at a hotel and Kieran was preparing
for a scene by ignoring me.
“I responded likewise – until the fire alarm went off and we all had to
“I asked him if he was planning to ignore me for an entire hour and he
burst into laughter. The method acting technique didn’t work that day
and we became great friends.”
Ken admitted that it would be hard watching himself in Messiah –
because of his ballooning weight.
He was struck down with chronic digestive disorder Crohn’s Disease last
July, halting filming until this year.
Crippling stomach pains forced Ken to spend six days in hospital and
treatment has included steroids that caused him to pile on two stone.
“It’s a nerve-jangling experience watching it,” he said.
Ken lives with his partner, actress Di Sherlock in London, but also
enjoys spending time at his second home – a converted farmhouse in
“I love it there,” he said.
“It’s quiet and peaceful – the complete opposite of my urban existence
“I enjoy cooking Italian meals for my friends and watching the stars,
which are the brightest I’ve ever seen.”
As a shooting star in his own right, Ken should know.
* Messiah starts today at 9.05pm on BBC1 and concludes tomorrow at 9pm.