The Big Sell-off success: Sir Alex Ferguson buys The Big Issue while Gary Tank Commander star sells it

It's not everyday you see 'that guy off the tele' selling The Big Issue on the streets of Glasgow...or Sir Alex Ferguson buying it.

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  • Sir Alex Ferguson with guest vendor Ross Martin. Pic Andrew Revill / INSP
    Sir Alex Ferguson with guest vendor Ross Martin. Pic Andrew Revill / INSP
  • Greg McHugh poses for a picture with a customer. Picture by Jamie Simpson.
  • Alan Bissett sells The Big Issue. Picture by Jamie Simpson.

But that is exactly what happened this afternoon on the streets of Glasgow when Scots actor and writer Greg McHugh aka Gary: Tank Commander tackled the unusual role as a vendor of The Big Issue.

Greg, who also stars in Fresh Meat, was one of many celebrities, politicians and business leaders who gave up an hour of their time today to sell the magazine as part of the Glasgow-based International Network of Street Papers (INSP) event, The Big Sell-off.

Taking up a pitch on Gordon Street in the city centre, Greg was clearly one of the popular vendors with people stopping to ask him for an autograph or photo.

And he in return, made sure they bought the latest copy of The Big Issue - selling over 20 in just an hour with a few 'Garyisms' thrown in.

And a few yards from his pitch, Sir Alex Ferguson supported the cause by buying the magazine from guest vendor Ross Martin (of SCDI) outside Central Station.

The footballing legend was walking through the train station to catch a taxi when he took time out to support The Big Sell-off.

Greg admits the experience of selling The Big Issue was a real eye opener, he said: "It is an eye opener, I've got a bit of an easier shift because people were recognising me of the tele, and coming up and getting a magazine that way. You still just get hundreds of people walking past and blanking you , and it is not your fault because everyone is doing their own thing.

"But what you do realise is - this is really tough and a lot of people are just walking past you when you are trying to do your thing.

"They are not deliberating being rude but some people are. It is a good reminder for me for the next time I am walking past a Big Issue seller at least to say if you don't want to have one, no thank you or whatever."

The Big Sell-off is part of INSP's annual International Street Paper Vendor Week, which started on Monday.

It aims to enhance the profile of both INSP and The Big Issue north of the border, raise awareness of vendors who sell street papers in Glasgow and across the world.

Guest vendors like Greg will also raise funds for INSP and The Big Issue through their own JustGiving pages.

Greg admitted the experience was not what he thought it would be, saying, "There is a real mix of people who want to engage and chat - and that is a lovely part of it.

"And I didn't think people would want to engage that much but actually there is a really good mix.

"There is some people who don't want any part of it and that's fine.

"It's quite reassuring as well that when you do get into conversation with people just how good that makes you feel.

"Strangers coming up to you just wanting to have a chat. It was better than I expected."

He did, however, struggle with his selling technique, adding, "My patter is brutal, it was my usual patter of, 'Awright, how you doing?' and they go, "Are you that guy off the tele?" and I go, 'Eh yeah', and they feel a bit disappointed.

"But I said a few various Gary things to various people like, '(Gary voice) Just have a brilliant day, enjoy yourself."

Prior to Greg taking over the pitch, author and playwright Alan Bissett was showing off his selling tactics to shoppers on the streets of Glasgow.

He said: "I sold about six or seven copies. People were really friendly, even people who were not buying a copy. They were like hope you have a nice day and stuff like that.

"The rain came on towards the ends there which is a bit disappointing so I was basically saying, 'well buy The Big Issue, stick it ooor your heid, if youve not got a brolly'

"It was nice to engage with the people of Glasgow and show my support."

For more on The Big Sell-off, go to

You can watch a video  by Stewart Ross and Laura Redpath from Strathclyde University of Greg selling The Big Issue here -


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