ADAM Robertson isn’t just an actor. He’s a living example of the Nietschean adage (which he no doubt borrowed from the Kelly Clarkson song title) ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’.

Growing up in Thurso, the former River City star had been bullied, abused by his alcoholic father and teachers. (“One teacher would pick me up by the ears and slap me hard.”) He was on first name terms with the members of the Children’s Panel and social workers had his file committed to memory.

Right now, Robertson is starring in Oran Mor play, Cool Dads, a tale of touchline fathers who are living their lives via extension of their football-loving schoolboy sons.

He talks more of that later, but explains how his own schooldays came to be a combination of fear, aggression. “We moved up from Edinburgh when I was three,” he recalls. “We were always outsiders, incomers, and I never fitted in. Then when my parents (his dad is a glazier) broke up life for my mum, me and my brother was about council flats and even living in a caravan for two years.”

He adds; “My dad was an alcoholic. Still is. We have a good relationship now but back then he was a violent drunk.”

The schoolboy was singled out by his peers. “I got bullied because I wore sh**** trainers, clothes from jumble sales, that sort of stuff. Meantime, I hated the teachers, and with good reason. One would pick me up by the ears and slap me. And make me to push ups in the class to humiliate me.”

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Robertson became a school rebel. A classic cry for attention. Yet, thankfully the cry for attention and need for expression appeared in the form of street breakdancing, (“the lino on the pavement, the lot”) rather than breaking windows. But by the age of 15, schooldays were over, replaced by work in a freezer factory.

Meantime what really stopped him getting into bother,was discovering surfing, going on to become a Scottish Junior Champion. “It got me out of Thurso. Now, I could see a world outside and at 17 I took off to Cornwall, to surf, while working in Burger King at nights cleaning the broiler.”

Yet, by the end of the summer, Robertson realised the chances of becoming a professional surfer were slim. He moved back to Thurso and took a job cleaning floors at Dounreay. But he new he needed more. “I got myself down to the Job Centre and looked down the alphabetical list of careers. My eyes stopped at ‘P’ when I saw the words Performing Arts. I thought ‘I could do that. I like stories. Reading. I liked breakdancing.’

Yet, there were obstacles. Robertson had never been in a theatre in his life. He’d never read a play. How to progress? He went back to school to see the “really nice Mrs Omand, the English teacher, who once been so encouraging of his poetry reading.

She gave him plays to read and steered him in the direction of Dundee Theatre Arts course, a one-year foundation. “I kicked the a*** out of it.,” he remembers in delighted voice. “I loved it. I’d go to see plays such as Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf, with David Tennant starring, seven times. I soaked it up.”

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He was then accepted by the Drama Centre in London. But he didn’t have the fee, despite writing hundreds of letters asking for backing. but nothing. “Amazingly, the Drama Centre let me start, with no fees up front. Meantime, I slept on a floor in the East End. I would have starved, but for Sir Anthony Hopkins, who was Patron, paying for my hot lunches at the canteen.”

Then fate kicked in. A Welsh benefactor offered to pay a struggling actor’s fees for a year. and the tall young Scot with the thick dark hair and winning smile was the chosen one. But life was to get better. “I went along to see a free theatre show one night in Islington. There was a free seat next to me, held over for special guest, and it turned out to be Richard Wilson.” The two Scots chatted. “We got on so well that at the end of the night, Richard said to me ‘Adam, if you have any trouble with your funding get in touch with me.’”And he did just that. Not only did Wilson agree to pay his fees for the next two years he added £400 a month to the subsistence. “I think he could see I was as skinny as a rake.”

Robertson went on to find acting success in a a range of theatre roles, playing the hunky doctor in River City from 2011.

Now, he lives in Glasgow with wife, Anna and their sons and is delighted to be appearing in Simon Macallum’s play as Danny, a man whose dreams were crushed by his dad.

Does the actor believe life has tested his own resolve, his acting training the reward? “Yes, I do.” He adds, smiling; “Don’t get me wrong. Acting can be a tough life Last year I was driving an Uber, to pay the bills. But I’ve managed to keep going.”

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And there’s he delight in knowing the hated teacher, who once lifted him up by the ears will have seen him on TV, perhaps in theatre? “He once said to me ‘The only place you’re going to end up is prison, Robertson.’ Well, I did end up there. But teaching drama to young people. And in some way that teacher’s twisted malevolence has helped push me on.”

Cool Dads also features Natali McCleary, Kris McDowall and David McGowan, Oran Mor, Glasgow, until Saturday.