River City's Paul Samson says it 'felt like I’d never been away' as he returns as Raymond

·5-min read
Paul Samson
Paul Samson

RIVER City star Paul Samson says being asked to return to the show for the 20th-anniversary special was "a tremendous compliment".

The award-winning BBC soap will welcome familiar faces from the serious along with the current cast for a unique episode which first airs on Monday, September 26.

Written by Johnny McKnight, the episode will see Bob O’Hara, played by Stephen Purdon since the show started on September 24, 2002, and best mate Angus Lindsay (Scott Fletcher) wake up in a parallel dimension where they come face-to-face with ghosts from Shieldinch’s past, including Raymond Henderson.

Glasgow Times: 20th Anniversary episode
Glasgow Times: 20th Anniversary episode

20th Anniversary episode

Returning to the show for the first time since corrupt councillor Frank Paton murdered Raymond in 2014, Paul says being on set was both "familiar" and "alien".

"It was both the weirdest thing in the world and the most normal if that makes sense," he says.

"It was a wee bit like when you go back to a house you lived in when you were a kid, or a street, or a town that you used to live in, and it’s so familiar but it’s also kind of alien, so it was a bit like that.

"Of course, there are loads of new people but essentially it felt like I’d never been away really."

Glasgow Times: Raymond and Roisin's wedding [2004]
Glasgow Times: Raymond and Roisin's wedding [2004]

Raymond and Roisin's wedding [2004]

Laughing, he continued: "It’s been eight years since they very unfairly killed me, so it’s been a long time but when I walked in the door it just felt 'alright, this is what I do'.

"It was weird.

"Strange, but good strange."

READ MORE: River City celebrates 20 years with special episode and anniversary show

Paul says he was "flattered" to be asked back for the special episode, especially after being involved in a major storyline for the 10th anniversary.

He says: "It was the best because when you leave a soap it’s a wrench because despite what you read very few people leave a soap of their own accord.

"River City was a massive part of my life for 12 years having been there from day one so it was a complete wrench, but it was all amicable and all fine so to get asked to go back for the anniversary I was flattered to be honest, really really flattered.

"The way I was treated when I was there was terrific, the writers were always fantastic with me and then to be asked back for the 20th, I felt it was a tremendous compliment, I was really really flattered by it, and I was delighted to come back."

Glasgow Times: Paul Samson
Glasgow Times: Paul Samson

Paul Samson

While Paul says he has enough favourite memories of his time on River City to fill all the pages of the Glasgow Times, Raymond and Montego Street favourite Roisin McIntyre's (Joyce Falconer) over-the-top Posh and Becks style wedding is one that stands out for him.

"I particularly liked the stories when we first started the soap where I had a daughter and a son," Paul says.

"I used to really love working with the young actress who played my daughter in the soap, she was called Kari Corbett, she’s a fantastic actress, and I loved doing stuff with Joyce.

"I liked when Raymond and Roisin got married it was a bit of a Footballers Wives’ type of look we had going because I think Gascoigne had married his Mrs in a flamboyant ceremony and I had clothes a bit similar to that.

"So, getting married to Roisin was a big memory and working with Joyce Falconer in those sorts of scenes, the storylines involving my daughter and my son, I loved all that stuff."

Glasgow Times: Paul Samson
Glasgow Times: Paul Samson

Paul Samson

He added: "When you work in soaps you tend to work in units, you tend to have your family unit, and for a long time me and Joyce were a unit, and I can say it was an absolute joy coming in every day and working with Joyce.

"Joyce is a one-off, she’s terrific and her character was one of the most talked about, probably still is, characters on the soap so her and me together was a joy."

The 20th-anniversary episode sees several characters’ lives having turned out differently with Roisin and Raymond’s marriage having a different ending to the story we know.

"I really liked it," Paul says, "I very much liked the alternative universe I went back to."

READ MORE: Interview with BBC River City actress Joyce Falconer on the return of Roisin McIntyre

Glasgow Times: Raymond and Roisin's wedding [2004]
Glasgow Times: Raymond and Roisin's wedding [2004]

Raymond and Roisin's wedding [2004]

Paul now lives in St Andrews but is currently staying in Glasgow while starring in Celtic The Musical at the SEC Armadillo and says while in the city it feels like he never left the soap.

He said: "I was walking back from the Armadillo and a drunk guy on a bike practically ran into me because he wanted me to stop and speak to him and I told him 'I’ve been dead for eight years' and he didn’t even realise, it’s incredible.

"Being in a soap, the public see you and that’s it for life, it’s like a lifetime thing, it’s bizarre.

"So, whenever I’m through in Glasgow it’s as if I’ve never been away.

"I go into a shop, I go into a pub, and even I’m in a hotel just now, I went down to reception yesterday and it was a young girl and she said 'are you Raymond' and I was like 'jeezo, she’s a young girl, how do you know that'.

"I’ve always felt incredibly supported by the fans, particularly in Glasgow."

The River City 20th anniversary episode will air on BBC Scotland at 10pm on Monday, September 26 and on BBC One Scotland at 7pm on Tuesday, September 27.