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Two Doors Down: Elaine C Smith on discovering new purpose in the pandemic

© BBC Studios/Alan PeeblesTwo Doors Down.
Two Doors Down.

She is one of Scotland’s most popular entertainers, but Elaine C Smith has revealed how the pandemic almost drove her out of showbusiness.

The star of Two Doors Down and Rab C Nesbitt says the great pause forced her into a reappraisal of life, and led her to some big changes.

Elaine said: “I didn’t know what my purpose was any more, I didn’t know if this is what I really wanted to do any more.

“I was lost in the middle of it all, like most people it was something I didn’t see coming. These are things you’re not in control of.

“It made me take a real look at what I wanted from life, and consider how much life I’ve got left. People were getting ill, people were dying, people were losing loved ones. I started to worry about the world my daughter would inhabit, and her daughters.

“There are parts of life I don’t want to return to. I was completely done in before. When I went back to Two Doors Down, I lost three and a half stone and I feel like I have shed Elaine C Smith – the political person, the charity person, the corporate person, the actress, the granny, the mother. I carried it all at once and for a long time I overate, because I felt I had to, to keep going.

© Andrew Cawley/DC Thomson
Elaine C Smith. (Pic: Andrew Cawley).

“I’m never going to go back to saying yes to wee jobs that I can just fit in. I don’t have anything to prove at this stage. I’m thinking more philosophically about things. If I can do two shows and a panto, then I’ll be happy.”

Elaine honed her craft on the festive theatre circuit so assiduously over the years that the title of panto queen is unquestionably her own.

This season, she returns to Glasgow’s King’s Theatre in Cinderella. And her festive star continues to shine with a return to TV tomorrow as the brilliantly coarse Christine in Two Doors Down. Filming had to be temporarily abandoned when her co-star Alex Norton contracted Covid – but that wasn’t the only problem.

Elaine reduced her sugar intake with the help of the Noom app, recording every item she ate in a day, as well as taking part in daily Zumba and yoga classes, and walking 13,000 steps a day.

She said: “They had to make me a fat suit as Christine would have eaten her way through lockdown. She’d have JustEat on speed dial.

Elaine C. Smith on giving a new voice to The Gruffalo and her ire for the luvvies who once considered her own accent a little too beastly for the stage

“I didn’t give it up completely, life is too short to never eat chocolate again. But the app means you become very aware of why you’re eating, the psychological reasons, and make you question what you don’t want to feel, the thing you feel that makes you eat to feel better.

“For the first time in years I had the time to focus, not seeing food as a reward. It’s also understanding that you’re not a bad person, because there’s a bit of self punishment going on around food. I had to tackle all that.”

Elaine found time to follow her vernacular adaptation of Julia Donaldson’s The Gruffalo, The Glasgow Gruffalo, with a follow up, The Glasgow Gruffalo’s Wean.

“The lack of connection with other people has been the hardest thing,” she said. “The world, with Afghanistan, global warming, and the pandemic, feels like a dark place. And that’s why people want light and laughter and joyousness in something like pantomime. It’s a celebration of being alive.”

Two Doors Down, BBC2, Monday, 10pm