Brian Beacom

HURRICANE Grado continues to batter the west of Scotland with a force that can’t be contained.

But nor should it.

This week, Grado is back at the Pavilion Theatre alongside former River City chum Stephen Purdon.

The double act, Dumb and Dumber, are the comedy cornerstones of this year’s panto, The Wizard that Never Woz.

“I love working with Stephen because we have such good chemistry.,” he says in excited voice.

“And I can learn so much from him, being a grizzled veteran of the panto circuit.”

However, the Ayrshire-born actor won’t simply be playing Dumber.

The Pavilion has recognised the actor once known as Graeme Stevely is clever enough to play more than stupid.

The talents of the wrester-turned-performer go way beyond pulling daft faces.

“I’ve got three parts in the panto this year,” he says, as proud as the day he managed to slam Insane Championship Wrestling’s Heavyweight Champion Drew Galloway onto the canvas.

“Not only am I Stephen’s partner in stupidity, Dumber, I also get to play an Irish fortune teller,” he offers.

“And it turns out I’m the Wizard as well. No bad, eh.”

There is no stopping the 29 year-old it seems.

As well as being the star of ITV’s World of Wrestling, Grado has now moved onto the BBC network.

Next year he will be seen in the new series of Two Doors Down, the domestic sitcom which features Elaine C.Smith, Alex Norton and Jonathan Watson.

Grado, who has a new agent, will play the new man on the street.

“There have been delays with the World of Sport on ITV, and I had a feeling this this year was going to turn out to be jobby,”he says, grinning.

“But it’s not worked out that way at all.

“I was asked to go to London for auditions for Two Doors Down and after a few meetings they offered me the part.”

His voice become’s more excited.

“It’s my maw’s favourite programme. And I will be in the last episode of the next series.

“But if it goes to another series the producers have given me a strong indication I’ll be back.”

TV producers in the likes of River City have been quick to capture Grado’s ebullient personality and transfer it to the screen with a new character name.

There’s a certain element of Grado which appears in his performances in BBC Scotland’s Scot Squad.

What he loves about the Two Doors Down role is he’s not playing Grado.

“I’m playing a guy who’s just moved into the street with his girlfriend and he’s a real bore.

“He’s into watching darts on Sky, that sort. And he’s really subdued.

“Meantime, his girlfriend is into getting her make-up done at Frasers. She’s a bit of a class above him and that makes for good laughs.”

Grado will be acting alongside Joy McAvoy, sister of Hollywood star James, in the series.

“We’ve got great chemistry together.”

Grado, who enters the wrestling ring to the backdrop of Madonna’s Like A Prayer, hasn’t turned his back on wrestling. He still travels to America to fulfill monthly contracts.

“But I don’t wrestle with ICW anymore,” he says. I’ve taken a wee break because I couldn’t find the time to do everything.”

It wouldn’t be a great idea to turn up at the Pavilion with his arm in a stookie.

But he can afford to take step backs. The opportunities keep on coming along and the 29 year-old has never been happier.

“Except for one thing,” he says, grinning.

“So many people are on my case to get married.”

He says his partner of eleven years is the patient type but those around the couple are demanding he pop the question.

“I think you have to take things gradually,” he says smiling, of questions of commitment.

“You don’t want to be seen to rush into anything.”

Marriage apart, no matter which projects Grado embarks upon, he eats them up with the enthusiasm he once showed for his gran’s Garibaldi biscuits.

“I have to admit I’d never seen the Wizard of Oz, until Sunday night there when I downloaded it.

“Some will think that’s an absolute outrage.” He wonders for a moment; “I think maybe it was on at my gran’s but I never watched it full pelt.

“But when I did it blew my mind. And since I’ve watched it I’ve been obsessed with finding out detail of the film.

“I’ve been all caught up in learning, how Judy Garland had been touched up by some of the Munchkins, who were druggies and alcoholics.

“I love all that Did You Know? stuff and as a result I’m even more excited about getting into the show.”

Grado is always anxious to add to his skillset.

He smiles when he talks about the Irish accent he uses for the Fortune Teller.

“It goes from Northern Ireland back to Southern and then back to Glesga. The idea is to get big laughs with it.”

There is little chance he won’t. Grado can’t tell a story without making it sound funny.

Even when he complains he’s able to generate laughs.

“I’ve go a new motor,” he says of the trappings of success.

“But it’s a wummin’s version of the Range Rover and as soon as I get in it it’s telling me off.

“All I hear is beeping, telling me I’m too close to the kerb, or I need to top up the battery. It really annoys me.”

*The Wizard That Never Woz, the Pavilion Theatre, until January 14.