Interview: Scot Squad's Darren Connell
As police mockumentary Scot Squad returns for a second series we talk to one of its stars about getting the acting bug and method nerves
As Bobby Muir, trolley boy and Scot Squad’s resident police timewaster, Darren Connell has reported and concocted a series of trivial crimes. Under gentle interrogation, he confesses that the day he auditioned for the role that would see him BAFTA-nominated and scoop best actor at the Scottish Comedy Awards, he was pulling a sickie … from his job as an Asda trolley boy.
Returning once more to persecute desk sergeant Karen Millar (Karen Bartke) in a new series of BBC Scotland's mockumentary, the 28-year-old Glaswegian reveals that their 'mother-son kind of vibe gets more surreal and a lot more silly', and that the improvised filming 'was a lot looser and more fun the second time round. I was so high on adrenaline that I can't really remember what I did; it's all a bit of a blur.'
Connell admits that making his acting debut in such a free-form, unscripted comedy was stressful. 'You can tell if you're doing well or bombing at a gig because of the mood in the room. But with filming, it's just complete silence. You can maybe hear the camera guy sniggering but as soon as the scene is cut, I find myself asking “was that funny?”'
After first trying stand-up aged 18 at The Stand's Red Raw night, Connell's initial experience was so awful that he didn't try again until he was 22, before polishing his skills on comedian Charlie Ross' course. Lately, the 'mildly obsessive' Marx Brothers fan has been experimenting with a character act, playing a desperate, dreadful new actor which helpfully gave him the method nerves of a first gig.
‘I was beginning to drip with sweat and I don't think I'd be able to do it on a Friday or Saturday night. My stand-up is weird enough without trying to do “a bit”.’ Now signed with an agent, he's truly got the acting 'bug' but that won’t keep him away from live work. 'I'll never stop doing stand-up because it keeps me sharp and on my toes.’
Scot Squad starts on BBC One Scotland, Monday 19 October, 10.35pm; Darren Connell is at The Stand, Glasgow, Thursday 15–Sunday 18 October.