HE admits he’s a bit of an arse, but Jonathan Watson can’t help liking the bragging character he plays in one of the few Scottish comedies to be aired on both sides of the Border.

The first series of Two Doors Down goes out on April 1 on BBC2 after a one-hour special created a social media storm.

“Everyone was genuinely surprised at the feedback which came from all over the country – north and south,” said Watson. “Social media was going nuts, so it was really good for us. I think it was a hit because no matter where you are, there are people like this within the community – it struck a chord.”

It seems appropriate that the first episode of the first series is being screened on April Fool’s Day as it focuses on a freezer door foolishly left open by Eric Baird, played by Alex Norton.

Rather than throw out a freezer full of defrosted food, his long-suffering wife Beth decides to cook the lot and invite over family and neighbours to help them eat it. What follows is no picnic for the Bairds as it gives Watson’s character plenty of opportunity to indulge in his favourite pastime  one-upmanship.


COLIN is keen on his single malts and a round of golf, which is a bit of a departure for Watson, a familiar face on our screens every Hogmanay in Only an Excuse, his much-loved annual send-up of the kenspeckle players and managers on the Scottish football scene.

Comfortably well off, Colin wears smugness like a badge and delights in boasting about where he’s been and what he’s bought. Watson admits some of the things he says can be excruciatingly cringy.

“I would never say some of the things he says but you do get people like that. He can’t resist trying to get one better than everyone else but he has done it for so long that it just comes naturally to him and he doesn’t feel any remorse when he says these things.

“He’s a good character to play. He has been described as a bit of an arse and that is exactly what he is, but in a nice way as well. He and Eric are friends and that has to be believable, so you can’t have him being an out and out tube.”


WATSON is delighted at the primetime slot the series has secured on BBC2, which should help it pick up viewers. It is the second comedy programme he’s been in recently that has gone out nationwide.

He also starred in Bob Servant, which became the first BBC Scotland sitcom for a long time to go straight to a UK network transmission.

“Bob Servant was one of the first commissioned for the network from BBC Scotland for many years – the last time was Rab C Nesbitt,” said Watson.

“A programme has to have widespread appeal to go on the network – for instance Only An Excuse is very successful up here with over one million viewers, but it is made for a Scottish audience so I’m not looking for it to go network. It really depends on the programme.”

Watson is also delighted that his old colleague Elaine C Smith is joining the show as Sophie’s mother.

“She’s a great addition to the cast. Over the years we’ve worked together a lot in shows like Naked Radio, Naked Video, Rab C Nesbitt and various theatre productions, including a panto which Alex Norton directed. For the first 10 years of my acting career, we worked together quite a bit, but it’s been 17 years since the last time we worked together. She’s just perfect as Christine.”


ANOTHER change from the one-hour special, at least for the cast and crew, is that it was filmed at Dumbarton on purpose-built sets.

That was a relief to the actors, who shot the original programme in 12-hour days over a two-week period in a very cramped space.

“It was so claustrophobic. There were 12 cast and there must have been 15 crew all crammed into a medium-sized living room – we were couped up in there from eight in the morning till eight at night. It was great to do though.”

With six programmes to be made in less than three months for the first series the focus was on work but, inevitably, with so many comic actors on set there was the occasional hold-up when they couldn’t deliver their lines for laughing.

“There was one day when Alex, Elaine and I absolutely got the most painful giggles on set.

“Elaine had to deliver this line to me, and Alex was to come in quietly carrying a tray with crockery on it. Now, that’s not easy, and we’d hear him come in with a clink and that would set us all off. We were crying with laughter.”

Added Watson: “I’m the one that’s known for mimicry, but Alex Norton does the finest James Mason impersonation – he’s absolutely brilliant at it. After a take I’d say to him, ‘Was James happy with that?’ and he’d put on his best James Mason voice.”


ASKED about his own talent for mimicry – which is evident in Only and Excuse and has won him many fans – Watson is surprisingly modest.

“I don’t think I am particularly talented in that area,” he said. “A number of actors I know have a number of voices up their sleeve. It’s part of the trade. You’ve got to have a good ear for accents.”

As for the future, a second series of Two Doors Down will depend on how well this one does. Watson would be delighted if another is commissioned but isn’t short of work, with a full diary up until next Christmas.

He will also be seen on TV screens shortly in Upstart Crow, a new series written by Ben Elton for BBC2 as part of the channel’s season marking the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.

Two Doors Down is on BBC 2 at 10pm on April 1.