Scots actress Joyce Falconer, born and raised in Torry, Aberdeen, has had a wonderfully varied career.
She has played Elvis in the Edinburgh festival – and sung his songs in Doric – as well as playing Roisin in the early years of BBC Scotland’s soap opera River City.
She tells Scottish Field about her north east accent, entertaining neighbours with puppet shows and working with prisoners.
My mother’s side is from The Mearns, St Cyrus, and my dad’s from Old Aberdeen. I went to Tullos Primary and Torry Academy, which sadly is no more. Last year they amalgamated Torry and Kincorth into one of these super-schools. I loved Torry Academy – I had very happy days there. I ended up with a love of drama and music because it was very much encouraged there and we had great opportunities with performing at Torry Academy.
All the teachers were very encouraging at school. I then started going to Aberdeen Art Centre in my teens and there was a lady – the late Annie Inglis – who ran youth groups and drama groups. I did more drama with her outside of school. She had quite an influence on me. But drama really started in the house to be honest!
We didn’t have a telly, so me, my sisters and my pals spent most of our time making shows. We’d entertain the neighbours! We did puppet shows, we were always play-acting, we had a dressing-up bag… But we didn’t think of it as acting, it was just being creative!
I was always very gregarious. At Torry Academy, I was sometimes called ‘Foghorn Falconer’ because I had quite a loud voice.
I won the Duncan Macrae Memorial Prize at the Royal Conservatoire in Glasgow.
At drama school I was quite a fish out of water. For starters, I was the only Scots lassie in my year and I didn’t come from a theatrical background. I had happy times there as well though. Winning the prize for Scots verse though – that’s something I’ve always had a love for.
I was cast in the original cast for River City in 2002. It was a very exciting time. They built up my character, Roisin McIntyre, and she became very popular. It was quite overwhelming really. I’d never thought it would be like that. At one point, my character won the lottery, and it was a nightmare to be honest. Everywhere I went – because of my strong accent – folk shouted impersonations at me, or they’d shout one-liners. It was quite surreal.
It sounds like a cliché, but working in River City was like being part of a big family. I loved that. I miss that camaraderie but I still keep up with a few folk in the cast. The crew there were tremendous. When you’re working at that rate of noughts, it was nice to have such a good atmosphere. We had a lot of laughs and carry-ons.
I’ve done a lot of work at Barlinnie Prison. I’m patron of their radio station, Barbed Radio. I’ve enjoyed working with prisoners – a lot of the lads in there have sadly been institutionalised at a young age, and I enjoy being able to stimulate the creative side of lads that maybe haven’t had the chance to tap into that before.
I’m very blessed to have wonderful parents, wonderful brothers. I don’t have children myself but I’ve got nieces and nephews and godchildren. I’ve still got pals from school as well. I only settled down when I was 36, so I’ve always been the mad auntie! I’m very happily married now. I’ve had a life of adventure.
I once wrote a play for ‘A Play, A Pie and A Pint’. That was done in partnership with the Lemon Tree. It was called ‘The Tale O’ Fanny Cha Cha’ – it was the story of a Brazilian lady who literally came up the Clyde in a banana boat. I did that with a community choir cast in Aberdeen. That was great fun.