1. Greenock


COMING from Greenock is such a huge part of my identity. It’s where I grew up, it’s where I’ll always call home, it’s where my mum and dad raised me and it’s where all my best pals still are.

It’s a place I genuinely love and I’m proud to be from. I think I took for granted just how spectacular the scenery is in Inverclyde and I appreciate it more as I get older and every time I come back. I grew up in a working-class family and I was very lucky to have a great mum and dad who worked very hard and really supported me. As a boy if I ever needed anything like a new pair of football boots then they would be right there for me.

The National:

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon: 10 things that changed my life

I’m so proud to be a patron of Ardgowan Hospice in Greenock. The staff looked after my uncle amazingly well but it was their efforts with supporting my whole family which really, really moved me. Ardgowan is a very special place for people in the last days of their lives, and I am fundraising for them to be able to change to all private rooms, which is the ideal for hospice care. I’ll always be very proud to support them. Greenock is a place that’s very special to me and a place that I’ll always champion.

2. My Name Is Joe

I WENT with a pal on a sort of double date with a couple of girls when I was at high school but when we got there we’d missed the big blockbuster we were planning to see and we went to see My Name Is Joe instead.

I had never seen people who spoke like me on a big screen like that. And I knew those characters, I could relate to them, and it just really opened my eyes to the fact that our stories could also be on the big screen, it didn’t need to always be people with an American or a posh English accent up there.

READ MORE: Eunice Olumide: 10 things that changed my life

It’s probably not what you should be taking away from the film but I remember there’s a scene at the end where Peter Mullan’s character batters everyone and me and my mate were running about outside afterwards acting it out! It changed my whole perspective on what films could be and the stories they could tell.

3. Ken Loach and Sweet Sixteen

MY dad loved Kes and I had watched that famous football scene umpteen times with him growing up. When the open auditions for Sweet Sixteen came to my school and they said “it’s the guy who did Kes and My Name Is Joe”, right away I could say how much I loved those films.

It changed my life being in Sweet Sixteen. Very early on one of my teachers said “I think you’ll get this”, even though it was a part that was very competitive to get and there were thousands of kids all over Scotland going for it.

The National:

At school the teachers were always putting me on the stage as the dame in the pantomime or reading the Romeo lines out loud in English class, but acting wasn’t really something I thought I could do for a living. If you wanted to be one of the cool kids at my school then you definitely didn’t want to be in the school play. But even at the first audition I just somehow knew what they wanted from me and I felt I would get the part.

Looking back, the amount of trust Ken Loach put in me was unbelievable. I was just fearless and I’ll probably feel for the rest of my career that I want to get back to being that kid, who had the pure truth of it and who was fearless. There’s no doubt that the man changed my life and I’ll be forever grateful to him.

4. I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor

WHEN I was a teenager music was pish for a while! We had just missed all that Britpop era and it was the start of the reality show Popstars, a lot of the stuff that was coming out just seemed quite formulaic.

And then I remember a kid at my school who was really into music and I was chatting to him, and he says “there’s this band called the Arctic Monkeys (left) and they are going to change music!”. I was really cynical and thinking what the fuck are you talking about, you can’t change music!

The National:

But when I got home I put on MTV or The Box and I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor came on with that really basic, tinted video they had. The thrumming guitar coming in at the start … I can still remember the feeling of it, it was like “what is happening here, what am I listening to?!”. These guys were my age or younger and they were putting these amazing lyrics together, Montagues and Capulets, I was like how are they doing that in a rock song?

5. The 2014 independence referendum

NO matter how disappointed I am in the end result I wish I could bottle the feeling of 2014. It was an amazing time and people who had never thought about politics before were getting involved and having their say.

It was annoying me when Project Fear was putting a lot of negativity on social media and I said on Twitter one night just before the vote “let’s all meet in George Square tomorrow, bring the positive vibes” and then the next morning it was like what have I done?! The police phoned me and the SNP phoned me – have you got a licence and stewards and a megaphone? And then I thought what if I go to George Square and there are only like 20 people there, but actually thousands of people turned up. The excitement and the hope in people was palpable.

I’ve supported independence from a very young age. On the day of the referendum I was walking down to the polling station in Greenock I felt like I was walking on air. When the vote was coming I almost didn’t want the campaign to end, it was just such an incredible time for Scotland. In some ways, it's very disheartening to be going through what is happening now [with Brexit] ... if we don’t stand up now when are we ever going to stand up?

6. Line Of Duty and Jed Mercurio


The National:
IF I owe my career to two people it’s Ken Loach and Jed Mercurio. Things were going pretty well for me and I was doing a lot of really good indie films but I was a little bit disappointed that there wasn’t a big audience for some of the films I was making.

I never thought anybody would trust me to lead a prime time BBC drama, I didn’t think that I was the kind of guy that middle England would respond to. The scripts were so strong at the start and a lot of people were fighting to get the part – when the auditions came up I had been doing a film in London so the accent was strong and I was really prepared. Line of Duty has opened me up to a whole new audience and it has opened other doors and I genuinely love the job. Vicky [McClure] and Adrian [Dunbar] (pictured above with Martin) live either side of me here in Belfast and I love working with them, I love the characters and I love the scripts.

The National:

It’s a long time away from home, four or five months each year, but I really appreciate how lucky I am in this job.

Jed is a ridiculously clever man. He was a doctor and a fighter pilot before he was a writer and he is an encyclopedia on police stuff. His attention to detail is amazing. We’ve become good pals.

7. London


The National:
THERE are sides of yourself you keep to yourself. I could talk about films for hours, and going down to London was an opportunity to have that different side of me for a while. There’s a sense of style in London that you can get away with – one of the first things I bought was one of the high-collared jackets like the Libertines used to wear and it was amazing to me that I was the most sensibly dressed one out.

When I moved to London properly I was 24 or 25 and I shared a flat with Kyle Falconer from The View. That took a few years off my life! It was great living with Kyle and there were bands and artists coming around and it was an amazing time.

There aren’t many things I love more than people watching and you can’t beat Soho in the summer.

8. Celtic FC


The National:
IT sounds a bit arrogant but being a Celtic fan is kind of a way of life. I love the atmosphere and the ethos of the club, I love the history of the club and why it was founded. I do a lot with the Celtic Foundation which is a great charity.

Men in the west of Scotland are not always the best of communicators. Me and my brother and my father are not exactly the types who are going to be shouting or texting “I love you” at each other!

But when you’re at Parkhead and a goal goes in it is sheer joy, hugs all round, we are practically hugging the whole time.

The only trip we’ve done together as adults was going to Barcelona to watch Celtic and being a Celtic supporter brings you together like that.

9. T In The Park

IT was such a massive part of my youth. The first one I went to was with some of the crew from Monarch of the Glen and I was the really young one. I overreached, shall we say, and I’m not even sure I left the campsite the first time I went.

The next year I went with one of my pals from Greenock and I loved all of it: buying the tent, getting up at stupid o’clock to get a bus, that mammoth walk to the campsite, pitching up and meeting all these random people. My job has some perks and I was lucky enough to be side of stage for Paulo Nutini and Calvin Harris and to see it from that side was incredible with this mass of people singing along. If you could bottle that feeling you would.

10. Tianna, my wife


The National:
MEETING her, falling in love, getting married ... it changes your life completely and I love her so much. When you get married it is moving to a different place in your life and you become responsible to someone else.

I’ve never been a flashy guy or daft with money. The biggest thing I liked was to spend on a night out, but now you’ve got to plan a future together.

We’ve bought a place in Vegas. Believe it or not it’s actually quite quiet once you’re off the Strip. I’m on the road a lot of the time and her family is there but we will be in Scotland a lot too.

She is a ridiculous cheerleader for me, I’ve never met anybody who’s so positive. I knew very quickly that I was going to be with her for the rest of my life.