WHETHER he's dealing with the glum or the gallus, actor Alan McHugh puts his all into his work.

The South Sider, best known for his pantomime turns, has taken on the role of John Guthrie in a touring production of Sunset Song.

But the star is also preparing for a season playing the dame in Beauty And The Beast at Aberdeen's His Majesty's Theatre.

"I am pretty busy, yes," he says.

"But it's a good kind of busy and the kind I would never complain about.

"I have friends who have been out of work for six months, so to have so much on my plate, I know what a privilege that is, and that I'm very lucky."

The actor, a regular on Limmy's Show and who has appeared in River City, Still Game and Taggart, is taking on the lead character in Alastair Cording's adaptation of the Lews Grassic Gibson classic.

Alan has performed in the show twice previously, taking it on national tours, and has played the parts of Chae Strachan and Long Rob.

This time he takes on John Guthrie, a complex, violent and intelligent character, who is at the heart of the much-loved book.

The text regularly tops favourite book lists and so the pressure to get the play just right is intense.

Alan added: "Everyone who comes in to see this play knows it well. People have a clear idea who the characters are and so there's a great responsibility to do them justice.

"However, we're putting our own stamp on them and we have to trust our own interpretations of the characters.

"Having been in the play previously, in 2002 and 2008, it's been interesting to see the different perspectives on stage.

"I've also seen other actors play John, so there's a lot to learn from."

Alan says he's "not quite at the level of fame to demand a rider" backstage, but he and the cast do have a ritual behind the scenes.

Each night before the play goes on, the cast gather and have a jam session, singing and playing instruments.

Sell A Door Theatre Company's production of Alastair Cording's adaptation of the book is on tour in Perth, Kirkcaldy, Kilmarnock, Stirling, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness and Dundee, and Alan, who has appeared in Still Game on TV, says the only drawback of the tour is not getting to see the show play at the SSE Hydro.

And it means his pals Sanjeev Kohli and Greg Hemphill haven't had the chance to see Sunset Song.

He added: "I'd really love to get the chance to see Still Game, but it's not to be this time. It's a small price to pay, though."

Alan, who also co-wrote the Susan Boyle play, I Dreamed A Dream, is a prolific pantomime writer.

He's been commissioned to develop scripts for the Citizens Theatre in Glasgow; Perth Theatre; the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland; the Carnegie Hall, Dunfermline; Adam Smith Theatre, Kirkcaldy; and Beacon Arts Centre, Greenock as well as the John Barrowman and the Krankies' panto at the SECC.

But it is to Aberdeen that he returns year after year to write a show and play the pantomime dame.

Alan, who graduated from the Royal Academy of Music and Drama, now the Royal Conservatoire, in 1991, lives in Clarkston.

He says he manages to fit everything in by working whenever he can - including on the number 6 bus, which travels across the city from the South Side to West End.

"I call it my shoogly office," he says. "It takes a full hour to get right across to the West End so that gives me time to get some writing down.

"It's not the easiest place to work but I do get things done."

Although he says panto and Sunset Song are very different styles, he approaches both with the same ethos - to make sure the audience enjoys itself.

He added: "By the time the run has finished for Beauty And The Beast we will have played to 70,000 people. That's a lot of responsibility.

"I want to make they each and every person has enjoyed themselves, had fun and had a really good laugh.

"I really enjoy what I do and it's a great job, but people come to see us who have been working all day, and by the time you take programmes, a meal out and travel into account, they are spending around £100 on a ticket.

"I want it to be worth it for them, to do my absolute best every night and never take anything for granted.

"I want to send people home with a smile on their face."

l Sunset Song plays at The King's until October 25, Dundee Rep from November 5 to 8 and at His Majesty's Theatre in Aberdeen from November 10 to 13.