Hooray for Holyrood

IT'S a little odd to think of Johnny ­Watson as being intrinsically evil.

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Johnny has built a career in television playing nice guys, bank clerks in sitcoms such as City Lights or likeable dimwits in Bob Servant alongside Brian Cox.

Now, he's set to appear in a horror movie, Let Us Prey, in which he plays an absolute horror.

"I filmed in the south west of Ireland, near Galway, and it stars the likes of Liam Cunningham from Game of Thrones.

"It's set in a police station cells and I play a wife beater.

"And its fantastic to tap into the dark side for a change. I really loved the whole filming experience and being in Ireland was great."

However, it shouldn't come as much of a surprise the actor has so many voices, because he's inhabited the soul of many dark creatures from football over the years.

This year he's back once again in Only An Excuse? - BBC Scotland's hardy annual that boots the ball of footballing pomposity right into the top corner each time.

Did reinventing the characters of those footballing greats such as Sir Alex Ferguson help him delve into the dark side of his own psyche?

"I don't know about that," he says, laughing, and clearly determined to sit on the critical fence.

"What I did though to tap into my dark side was think about Rangers being stuck in Division Three for all eternity.

"That seemed to do the trick.

"But seriously, we've got a great show lined up this year. We've charted the retiral of Fergie, by looking at the sort of things those in retiral would like to do.

"You can only image the fun we had with this.

"And we look to 2014 at the arrival of the Commonwealth Games and of course the Referendum, and its wider issues."

Johnny adds: "I don't really want to give the game away as to how we link these subjects with football, but we do look at Alex Salmond and Johann Lamont in Holyrood, and we certainly have some fun with that.

"Plus, we've got the likes of Frank McAvennie back on the show. Macca, in fact, has been on the show so many times that his son, who's now about 18, tells the story of seeing me on TV and thinking I was his dad."

Johnny adds: "When he was a wee boy, Frank brought his son to the King's panto, and there was a scene in which I appeared as Macca, who had to go to prison.

"But just as this was announced, Frank's wee boy called out tearfully from the seat in the stalls: 'Daddy!"

It's testimony to Johnny's skills as an impressionist. But he's not about to rest on his laurels and pull out the ratings guarantees each year.

There are some new faces in the picture. Andy Murray will certainly make an appearance at some point.

"And former Liverpool player Jamie Carragher will hopefully make the cut, with his strong Scouse accent that may need sub-titles."

There's also a possibility Susan Boyle will turn out on Only An Excuse?

"The challenge is to keep the show fresh," says Johnny. "You have to keep trying to do things a little differently."

Horror films and football - and the horror that Scottish football can be - aren't all Johnny has been working on this year.

He's also been appearing in theatre at the Traverse Theatre with Rob Dummond's very clever Quiz Show.

And now Johnny is clearly out to dominate the Hogmanay TV market because he's also set to appear in upcoming one-off comedy, Two Doors Down, a network show by Simon Carlyle who created the inspirational comedy drama, No Holds Bard.

It's about neighbours at New Year, it's Abigail's Party comes to Paisley, with lager replacing the Pimms.

And it has a fantastic cast including the likes of Alex Norton and Greg McHugh.

"My wife is played by Doon McKichan, and we have fun with the next door neighbours because we play the couple who have ideas above their station,"says Johnny.

"And it was great for me to do, to play this stiff character."

Who's not quite a horror?

"No, my horror appears ­elsewhere," he says, grinning.

l Two Doors Down, BBC1 Scotland, Hogmanay, 9pm

l Only An Excuse? BBC1 Scotland, Hogmanay, 11.15pm

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