In this regular Sunday feature, we ask people about 10 things that changed their life. This week, Neil Forsyth, writer of Guilt and Bob Servant.

1. Growing Up In Broughty Ferry

The National:

I THINK we only appreciate childhood when we get older. That’s certainly the case for me. Broughty Ferry might have seemed a little parochial and insular, but it was an idyllic place to grow up.

Nostalgia does kick in, but I was extremely fortunate having my family upbringing in the middle of this lovely little universe. That included Broughty Ferry library which instilled my love of reading. I played football for Broughty Athletic and tennis at Forthill. Also hunting for pornography in the bushes at Dawson Park – good clean fun. My family all lived within walking distance, so my Uncle Bill would take us to get our comics at the Claypotts shops. My grandad Jimmy Walker was a great man. From a working-class background, he gained a scholarship to university and ended up working in Ninewells as a professor.

I have a clear memory of being in my grandad’s house in Broughty Ferry, the sun was coming through the window and he said to me, “you can do anything in life if you want it enough,” and as I get older I can remember everything about that moment.

Growing up in a provincial city, the wider world could seem a little bit of a scary place, so my grandad saying that to me was such an important thing.

2. Groucho’s Record Shop

The National: Breeks Brodie in Groucho'sBreeks Brodie in Groucho's

THIS is such an important place for anyone who was brought up in Dundee with an ounce of interest in music. Shops like this are so important, particularly for smaller cities. They are the portals to the wider world and so exciting. That’s what Groucho’s was for me and still is for many people. It has been in a few locations but I knew it best when it was located right beside the Angus Hotel, which was demolished for the new Overgate shopping centre.

It wasn’t just the records, it was the tickets for gigs, and they even put on buses to the gigs, so it was an avenue to escape and excitement and exoticism for me. It was such a small, crowded shop, but I can remember the smell of it and the conversations I would overhear. The owner, Breeks Brodie, was always very funny and always very ready to see the opportunity to take the piss out of an unfortunate customer. Like so many people I was so sad to hear about his death just a few months ago. He was always so welcoming and supportive, and always added a great dash of Dundonian humour, even as an adopted son of the city.

Groucho’s is a real Dundee institution and I’m sure I’m one of many thousands of young Dundonians who found the cultural world because of it.

3. When The Hoodoo Comes

WHEN The Hoodoo Comes is the Falkirk Arabs Dundee United fanzine. I started writing for it when I was 13 and that was absolutely life-changing for me.

The Final Hurdle was the juggernaut among Dundee United fanzines, so I didn’t have the nerve to approach that, but I saw some lads selling the Falkirk Arabs fanzine and sent them some ideas – and they printed them.

For a 13-year-old to see his name in print was so exciting, even though my contributions were largely taken from Roy Of The Rovers comics. I would Tipp-Ex over speech bubbles then write in libellous comments about Dundee FC players and management. My mum found one where I had written a particularly profane article and she gave me a one-issue ban.

4. Trainspotting

I WAS always a huge reader. People like Roddy Doyle, Kingsley and Martin Amis, and the Flashman books. I had a bit of interest in Scottish writing, but Trainspotting changed everything. It was a one-off event in Scottish literature.

To me it was the voice, the power and the confidence – and a window into a world that you would never experience otherwise. Also the fact that it was written by a young man in Edinburgh and that a book could be so savage but so funny and use the dialect. Like all great works it transcended its medium. It reached the least likely readers, from the football casuals to guys who piled down to Manchester at the weekend to go to the Hacienda. It really was a seismic moment for me.

5. Finding the story

The National: Elliot CastroElliot Castro

IN 2003, I was 30 years old and living in Edinburgh. Until then I was pretty much dedicated to living some kind of bohemian existence.

Well, you could call it bohemian or you could call it self-destructive. Whatever – as a result of that I had what you could call a decent bank of human experience.

I was trying to pick up the odd writing commission but also working in a nightclub. The highlight of my time there was booking an asthmatic Elvis impersonator, who descended into the club in a cloud of dry ice, which of course set off his asthma. It wasn’t a time when I was confident about my future.

I was looking for stories that had an impact on the wider world and one day spotted a tiny article in a newspaper about a teenager called Elliot Castro. He had been convicted of £2 million of credit card fraud and had been travelling the world living a hedonistic lifestyle.

I wrote to Elliot in prison and ended up writing his book. We managed to get an agent, sell the book, Other People’s Money, and it actually did well and really started my writing career. We were chased by lots of film companies, and Elliot was even on This Morning, while I sat in the green room. With some irony, it was also the most shoplifted book in Scotland.

6. Bobspotting

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DELETE This At Your Peril was the book of the first collection of e-mails I had sent to spanners as Bob Servant. It had been released by a London publisher but there was very little interest and it was out of print in a few months. It started to have a life of its own, however. There was good word-of-mouth and a lot of Scottish bands started to read it to each other on tour buses.

It culminated with getting an email from a friend asking if I had seen that month’s Esquire magazine. It had asked famous authors what they thought the funniest book ever written was. Most of them named classic comic novels, but Irvine Welsh chose Delete This At Your Peril. I really couldn’t believe it. Of all people, too. For one thing, I didn’t know how he had managed to get hold of it because by this time it had been out of print for almost a year. I had a drink with Irvine on the back of that and he said I really needed to get it back out there, maybe through a Scottish publisher. He also offered to give a cover quote too.

With the new publication, it was serialised in The Guardian, transferred to Radio 4 and then took off on television.

7. Risking going into a Rangers pub

IN March 2010 I was living in New York, but I wanted to see Dundee United playing Rangers in the Scottish Cup. There was one pub in New York that showed Rangers games and I was aware of how expat Rangers fans could be “enthusiastic” about their team.

I had to chance it because I really wanted to see the game. There was one other Dundee United fan in the pub, also from Dundee, and we started chatting. It turned out he had been given the Bob Servant book for his Christmas and I said that Radio Scotland had commissioned a few scripts. He asked who I wanted to play Bob and I said, ideally, Brian Cox. He said he knew Brian.

Now, I thought he was at it, but I called his bluff and sent him the scripts and the book. A few months later, I got an email from a slightly bewildered Owen Bell, the Bob Servant producer, saying he had just had an email from Brian’s agent saying, “When do you want to do this radio thing then?”

Later Brian told me that he had heard laughing from the bathroom in his Brooklyn apartment one day. His son Alan had lifted the book from a pile and taken it in with him. When he came out, he asked his dad if he had read this bizarre book set in Dundee. So he read it… And Dundee United won that Scottish Cup game with a deflection off David Robertson’s arse.

8. Meeting my wife

AT the end of 2011, I was living in Edinburgh but had booked to fly to New York on New Year’s Eve because my friend was having a party. The entire eastern seaboard was iced over and JFK was closed so my flight was cancelled. It was December 30 and by that time it seemed all my mates were either married or had kids or both.

I refused to sit in by myself watching Jools Holland on the 31st so found one flight to New York. It went through Montreal with a long lay-over so by the time I got to New York it was the evening of the 31st. I dropped my bags, went straight to the restaurant and sat at the end of a long table.

My friend shouted to me to come down and sit at the other end. When I did and turned around, I met the woman who would become my wife. It was Greenwich Village and it was New Year’s Eve and it was snowing, so for a Dundonian it was uncomfortably romantic.

9. Table for four

WHEN we married in 2012, our honeymoon was in Tuscany. We went down to a restaurant for lunch but it was full. A couple at a table for four saw we were being turned away and said we could join them. The guy turned out to be head of television at DreamWorks. We had a few drinks and kept in touch, and when I sent him an idea he liked, I flew to Los Angeles to discuss it. In the eight years since, I’ve written one American pilot script a year. None have been made, but they keep the lights on and give me the security to be a bit more daring with my choices here.

10. A truly horrible Boxing Day

The National: GuiltGuilt

I HAD hit something of a crisis in 2015. I felt I was pitching the same kind of show again and again, writing scripts that I didn’t believe in. That day I found myself writing an overdue script – a studio sitcom about a multi-generational American family – and I thought to myself, what the f*** am I doing?

It made me step back. I put up a sign in my office saying, ‘‘Do you want to write this?’’ Since then I’ve been careful to write what I want to write, not what I think I can sell.

It’s certainly the case with Guilt. It’s a story that I wanted to tell, but I had no idea if anybody would take me seriously writing a drama. Ironically, I think it’s the show that has most of me in it. That horrible Boxing Day led to what I think has been the best writing years so far.

Guilt, written by Neil Forsyth, begins this Thursday, October 24, at 10pm on BBC Scotland