What can people expect from your new six-part TV series, Darren McGarvey’s Scotland?
Exactly what they would expect from me – a lot of talk about poverty. We’ve attempted to humanise the contributors to the show, helping viewers to understand a little more about the social, cultural and economic context that’s at the heart of many of the problems we explore.
Why was it important to you to get out in these communities?
Even if you look at the way some cities are designed you can live in an affluent community and travel to and from work without ever having to pass through poverty. So, the show is a way of saying, “Look, this is undeniable – whatever your politics are, here’s the story as told from the people living in these communities”. There aren’t many people hostile to the idea that there is poverty, but there is apathy.
Have you found it difficult to deal with your own success?
In one sense I’m not troubled by my success and in another it terrifies me. The biggest difficulty is the baggage I carry from my own past, which in itself says a lot about social mobility. There are many reasons why some people struggle to get on in life, especially living in the socio-economic quicksand that makes it’s difficult to take risks for fear of losing everything if you fail. But if you do find yourself in a higher up career, you come at everything from a different angle. You bring the opposite of a sense of entitlement to the table – you bringing low self-esteem and negative self-talk. Everyone deals with those things, but people from lower-class backgrounds deal with them more acutely and constantly.
Do people react differently to you now?
Without getting too personal, obviously relationships do change. I find the people I’ve know the longest are the relationships that are steady and the ones I return to when I might get distorted ideas of who I am or my importance. But you do need to set boundaries and constantly reassert them. Coming from my background, being assertive isn’t something that comes naturally, so it can be difficult.
What’s next for you?
I hear I have a day off in 2022 so I’m looking forward to that! Really, I’m just focusing on writing my second book, and I have two young kids, so I’ve got to make sure that I’m fit, healthy and present at home, which can sometimes be challenging. I suspect my publishers would love the second book to have been out already, but it will be ready for the spring. I’m not going to let deadlines stress me out, so it’ll be ready when it’s ready.
Darren McGarvey’s Scotland continues this Tuesday, on BBC Scotland, at 10pm