Dorothy Paul has been an audience favourite in Scotland for over 50 years. But it could have been so very different.
The entertainer from Glasgow’s East End took time out preparing for her appearance at the King’s Theatre to chat to STV about her most famous role, her show…and dough balls.
Paul’s illustrious career has seen her star in a number of shows including STV’s The One O’Clock Gang, Garnock Way, Housecall and The Hour. She will always be synonymous, however, with Margrit - the frustrated and cynical housewife in The Steamie.
Tony Roper’s play, which was adapted for STV in 1988 starring Paul, is the story of Glasgow housewives in the washhouse preparing for Hogmanay. Later this month, a 25th anniversary show - directed by Roper - will tour Scotland.
“I nearly didn’t get the job,” Paul told STV. “I was awfully cheeky to them. I had been up for an interview for the King and I in Kirkcaldy. I wasn’t going to shave my head, so I would play ‘the I’.
“I prepared for the singing, getting my voice ready. I did the audition and didn’t get it. I was furious. I had lost so many jobs, things were passing me by and I thought ‘am I ever going to work again?’
“By the time I went up for The Steamie, I was really quite belligerent and I got it. I was really surprised. I had always been nice to people before, but I was an angry woman. It ended up Margrit was an angry woman. If I had got that (The King and I), I wouldn’t be where I am today. If I hadn’t got The Steamie, I wouldn’t have ended up specialising in comedy.
“But I made my name on The Hour making my dough balls! Everybody thought it was hilarious. A female judge from South Africa contacted the website asking if we could repeat back Dorothy’s recipe for dough balls.”
When not touring the country, Paul enjoys a quiet life in the Went End of Glasgow. As well as fulfilling her role as doting grandmother, she enjoys painting watercolours, hill walking and gardening.
Her show at the comedy festival is the curiously titled Retiring from Retirement. “I got fed up retiring, so I retired! It is about myself, Glasgow, with a bit of stand up. There is quite a lot of the cleaner because folk like the cleaner.
“To me, the audiences are exactly the same wherever I go. They laugh just as much in Edinburgh as they do in Glasgow, from Pitlochry to wherever. What really amazes me though is how Glasgow humour is universal.
“Next, I’ve got a comic play almost finished, so I am going to try and finish that. I would also like to do a play for Oran Mor but I have never got off my backside to do it.
“I don’t know yet, I already have an experience of writing one play so I will do my best. I have a couple of ideas but I am keeping them to myself, because if you don’t keep them to yourself you lose the essence.”
Dorothy Paul ‘Retiring from Retirement’, Glasgow International Comedy Festival, King’s Theatre, March 18 and March 26, 3pm (March 18 only) and 7.30pm