Gordon Brown Portrayed As Macbeth Of Politics

A new one-man comedy-show aims to shed light on the personality behind former prime minister Gordon Brown.

The 62-year-old, who took over the leadership of the Labour Party from Tony Blair in 2007, has largely stayed out of the public eye since he left Downing Street three years ago.

But a new play - The Confessions Of Gordon Brown - has thrust the politician back into the spotlight.

Chiefly a monologue set during the tail end of Mr Brown's premiership, writer and director Kevin Toolis said a lot of Mr Brown's troubles stemmed from his image.

He told Sky News' Murnaghan programme: "Politics is very cruel. How you look on the telly is really, really important - a lot more important than what you are actually saying.

"He did have a secret re-imaging programme called Operation Volvo where he had his teeth done, his hair - they really spent an awful long time reshaping him into somebody who was more acceptable to what we call 'south land' - the southern-middle classes."

The Scottish journalist said he spoke to many members of Mr Brown's inner circle, including Ed Balls and Douglas Alexander, to "try to build up an image of who that man was" and "the construction of his leadership".

"Gordon Brown was a man really who devoted his life to politics, every single second of his life," he said. "What I really wanted to get at was the fusion of the morally, good qualities that Gordon Brown had.

"He was an incredibly experienced man, a dominant figure in 20 years of British politics, who should have been supremely qualified to be prime minister, yet somehow the negative qualities made him a very bad leader."

Referring to Mr Brown's rivalry with Mr Blair, from whom he seized power, Mr Toolis added: "He ascended the throne more like Macbeth than Henry IV."

Actor Ian Grieve has been cast as the ex-PM in the play, which had its world premiere at the Edinburgh Festival and is now on at the Trafalgar Studios in London.

He said he researched the role by watching lots of footage of Mr Brown on the internet and reading everything that was available about him to help him "build the character".

"I had to get it out of my head in a way that I was playing a real person," he said.

"It was about finding the character inside and the humanity of it. What makes this man tick."

Mr Grieve also revealed that he was sometimes forced to stray from the script and ad-lib with the audience when people shouted their opinions at him.

Asked what they say, he replied: "Oh, 'I don't believe you', or 'I never liked you in the first place'.

"The most daunting thing is the fact that I'm actually not a politician and don't have all the answers ... sometimes you realise that the audience knows more about the subject than you do."