John Michie as Guy Self in Holby City
John Michie as Guy Self in Holby City

The life and times of Taggart star John Michie

Taggart’s outspoken maverick John Michie talks about national identity, family, religion, superstitions – and why his mum wants him to play a doctor.

A regular in the series from 1998 as DI Robbie Ross until it ended in November 2010, Michie has since gone on to appear in other long-running shows, including Coronation Street and Holby City.

I love being in Taggart. I love the character I play, Robbie Ross. He’s not straight down the line and he’s prepared to bend the rules, which makes for an interesting character. God knows why they’ve not fired him yet.

I feel like a child of the British Empire, with a strong sense of Scottishness. My father is Scottish, my mother is English and they met in India – my dad was working for a Scottish bank, and moved to Burma after the Second World War to get work. I was born in Burma, my sister in Pakistan and another brother in Tunisia.

I have a strong emotional attachment to the Highlands. I’ve always found it a place of solace. After a week on a fi lm set I can think of nothing I like more than to trip up into the hills and let it all hang loose. I’m trying to get a documentary together with Cameron McNeish to climb six iconic Munros.

My wife and three kids are the great loves of my life. One of the great things in life – in a very Richard Dawkins way – is passing the genes on. I can see the spirituality of the passing on of genes, in the sense that that is the essence of the success of humanity.

I don’t believe in religion. I sympathise with people who do; I also feel quite sorry for them. I understand that it brings them solace, but it also constrains their lives – it dictates who you are and prevents your natural path.

John Michie as Guy Self in Holby City

I feel sorry for actors who have superstitions. They are self-induced, and it’s a complete and utter waste of time and energy. Why worry about things that are never going to happen?

My mother would have loved me to become a doctor. She still hopes I’ll one day get a part playing a doctor. Then she could die happy.

I’m a passionate supporter of the NHS, and I’m terrified of what the Westminster government is doing – rushing through a pile of stuff that hasn’t been thought through. I think we’re heading for a bad place.

The hatred Scotland has towards England is debilitating. We’re bigger than that. Our history is so fantastic: we virtually created the modern world and have this fantastic pool of greatness. We should concentrate more on being proud of that rather than feeling that we are a wee country overshadowed by England.

I have achieved my ambitions. I’ve led the life of a peripatetic actor, been able to earn a living and raise a family, which is no mean feat.

I’d like to make more documentaries, and work in America: their drama is the best in the world. One of the hardest things to do is be yourself. I try to do that – except when I’m acting, of course. If you are who you are, you’ll be interesting and successful. Success is not being a movie star or earning millions of pounds – it’s being content with who you are.

(This feature was originally published in 2011)