'It was an amazing moment': Glasgow actor and Doctor Who 'geek' Louise Stewart on working with hero David Tennant

Louise Stewart in rehearsal Pic: Tommy Ga-Ken Wan
Louise Stewart in rehearsal Pic: Tommy Ga-Ken Wan

LOUISE Stewart admits she managed to hold it together – just – when she landed a role alongside her acting hero David Tennant.

“It was on the show Good Omens, with Michael Sheen, and it was an amazing moment for me,” she says. “I’m a huge Doctor Who geek, and I absolutely love David Tennant with all my heart and soul. I managed to keep it in, though.”

She laughs. “Well, maybe I didn’t – he probably did guess. But it was incredible, to be acting alongside these people I’d admired for so long. It was the same when I did a show recently called Code 404 with Stephen Graham and Daniel Mays – I couldn’t really believe I was sitting in a room with some of my favourite actors.”

Glasgow Times:
Glasgow Times:

Hobnobbing with the likes of Tennant and Sheen feels a long way from her first foray into acting, at Toonspeak Youth Theatre in Springburn.

“It was such a great environment, so friendly and it cost about 50p,” smiles the Barmulloch-born actor. “One of my first shows was Peter Pan, and Stephen Purdon [Shellsuit Bob in River City] was Tinkerbell.

“I never imagined I’d do this for a living. It wasn’t a ‘proper’ option, back then, if you know what I mean? There was no drama at my school, although I did come from a creative family, and we were always encouraged to give things a go.”

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Now well-known for her roles in Burnistoun, Scot Squad, children’s TV show MI High and the aforementioned Code 404, Louise is taking a break from telly and returning to her stage roots at A Play A Pie and A Pint in Oran Mor next week.

“I’m playing one of two women, who wake up to find themselves trapped in a room and they have absolutely no idea what is going on,” she explains.

He Who Opens The Door, a black comedy by leading Ukrainian playwright Neda Nezhdana, is highly topical, reflecting the limbo for some people in eastern Ukraine, caught between opposing forces.

Are these women dead? In limbo? Is there a nuclear war or a pandemic outside? Their escape may depend on playing for the right side – pro-European or pro-Russian. And if the door does open, will it be safe to leave?

“It is really quite something,” agrees Louise who stars alongside Yolanda Mitchell. “It’s full of very dark comedy, it’s surreal, gut-punchy stuff – one minute it is ridiculous, with singing and dancing, and the next it’s actually pretty horrible.

“They don’t know where they are or what is happening, and every so often the phone rings, and they don’t know who is on the end of the line. The voice is male – is he someone who could save them? Is he a threat?”

She pauses. “It taps into that whole idea of fear being ingrained in your consciousness when you are a woman,” she adds. “We’ve all felt it, we all know it – it is there from when you’re a kid.

“The play is also quite existential at times – it’s asking big questions, like do the decisions you make in your life really matter?”

Glasgow Times: Louise and Yolanda Mitchell in rehearsal with director Becky Hope-Palmer. Pic: Tommy Ga-Ken Wan
Glasgow Times: Louise and Yolanda Mitchell in rehearsal with director Becky Hope-Palmer. Pic: Tommy Ga-Ken Wan

Louise and Yolanda Mitchell in rehearsal with director Becky Hope-Palmer. Pic: Tommy Ga-Ken Wan

Louise breaks off, with a laugh: “Honestly, though, it is very funny, and really clever. I can’t wait to see what Oran Mor audiences make of it.”

Playwright Neda is in exile somewhere in her native Ukraine, where she is one of the country’s leading writers, as Russia continues its devastating invasion.

“It’s unbelievable, isn’t it?” Louise shakes her head. “But to be creative in such tough times, that’s so important. We’ve not had the chance to speak to Neda for obvious reasons but it’s been fantastic to work on her play. It would be great to meet her one day.”

PPP marks Louise’s return to theatre for the first time in almost five years.

“It’s a baptism of fire, because you only get two weeks to rehearse,” she says, with a laugh. “I’m loving it though – it’s my first time doing PPP and it’s just great to be in the room with such a lovely group of women.”

Television and writing have been taking up her time, she explains.

“I did a comedy writing and production course, graduated earlier this year, and I’ve been writing ever since – sketches, radio skits, political satire, all kinds of things,” says Louise, who won a Royal Television Society Student Television award for her short film, Ashes 2 Ashes.

“I like to keep busy. I never really planned to be an actor, I went to university thinking I might go into journalism.”

She jokes: “But I fell in with a bad bunch of people, a group of actors who ruined my life…”

Louise is currently working on her first sitcom, Flourishing, which is set in a “working class Glasgow family” around the early 2000s.

“It’s my childhood, basically,” she says. “I’m just putting the finishing touches to it now, and the discussion is all about – should I play my mum?”

She adds, with a laugh: “I don’t know – I mean, I think it’d love to do it, because it’s our story but I’m not sure. I like writing comedy for other people more, I think.”

He Who Opens The Door is at Oran Mor from Monday, September 26 until Saturday, October 1. Visit playpiepint.com for details.