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Emun Elliott: Keep an eye on this one to watch...

DO NOT be too concerned if the name Emun Elliott doesn't mean that much to you at this precise moment. Fear not if you wouldn't recognise the dashing young actor with the smooth Edinburgh accent and the floppy hair from any other young, well presented Scottish chap breaking into the world of television and theatre drama, or, indeed, any other young Scottish chap.

However, very soon, if all the indicators prove correct, the name Emun Elliott will be joining a cast of high-profile, household name Scots actors – led by David Tennant, Gerard Butler and Billy Boyd – taking the world of film and television by storm.

The 25-year-old has been hailed by industry magazine Screen International as "one to watch", a glowing endorsement which the former George Heriot's pupil admits took even him by surprise.

"Yeah, a big surprise," he grins, "because I've not really been on screen that much.

"Screen star of tomorrow, apparently. But I've only really done Monarch of the Glen and another wee TV thing! So I'm not sure how they came to that one."

Well of course it might have something to do with being involved in one of the most successful, thrilling and biting political plays to hit Scottish theatre in many a year. Yes, that might explain it . . .

Emun, son of a Heriot-Watt University lecturer dad and a social worker mum from Portobello, is only too aware how Black Watch, the hugely successful National Theatre of Scotland take on a soldier's lot, has propelled him to heights that just three years ago he might only have hoped for.

After two and a half years and stints in far-flung theatres as distant as New York and New Zealand, his run as squaddie Private Fraser came to an end last December and he hasn't stopped working since.

"The past year has whizzed by," he nods. "It started off well and has just kept going."

Private Fraser was barely put to bed before Emun was off to Germany for the thrill of working with Lord of the Rings actor Sean Bean on a new movie, Black Death. Set in Britain during the 14th century plague, he describes it as a "medieval road movie" about a group of mercenaries who set about trying to reach one of the few remaining villages untouched by the disease.

There followed a whole two days off before he plunged into his next role, the one that has now propelled him on to the nation's television screens alongside former EastEnders star Tamzin Outhwaite in Paradox, a BBC time-travelling drama.

Dubbed the British version of acclaimed US series Fast Forward, Emun plays Dr Christian King, a world-renowned space expert who claims to have received images from space of a major disaster that has yet to happen. A police team led by Outhwaite and fellow Scot Mark Bonnar work with the doctor against the clock in a bid to prevent tragedy. While that's on screens now, Emun has already moved on. Right now he's in Glasgow, filming Lip Service for BBC3, a hotly-awaited new drama based around three Scots lesbians that he assures us will be "really full-on, really racy stuff".

As if that's not quite enough, there'll be a pause over Christmas and New Year before he's straight off to London's Almeida Theatre on the fringes of the West End, for Shakespeare's Measure for Measure alongside Rory Kinnear – son of film giant Roy – and directed by Michael Attenborough.

"Things have gone pretty well in the past year," he says with a grin, reflecting on the diversity of his roles. "I've certainly not been typecast which is a blessing.

"Why it's happened like that, I'm not sure. But it's good."

Good going indeed, considering he got to this point via a slightly wayward route which did not originally involve stage or screen as a career option.

Brought up in the Portobello area – "a fun place to grow up even if the beach was at one point among the filthiest in the country," he smiles – he went to George Heriot's where inspirational teachers nurtured in him a love of English and drama.

"I actually wanted to be a forensic scientist for a while," he explains. "When I was doing my Standard Grades, three of them were science subjects. The interest in science didn't wear off, but I found other interests.

"I had great English teachers who are real mentors for me. I'd never say a bad word about George Heriot's. The advantage of going to a school like that isn't just academic, it's that it gives you the opportunity to find out what you want to do."

The after-school drama club had planted the seed of an acting career that was still on his mind when he arrived at university in Aberdeen to study English literature and French. "Drama made me happy. Being on stage made me feel alive. But I did what a lot of people do, and that's follow this path of leaving school and going to university. It was only at university that I realised the only thing that would make me a satisfied man was to do what I loved."

He quit university and ended up at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow.

A few roles in the likes of Monarch in the Glen and comedy series Feel the Force followed before Emun sat down with writer Gregory Burke and the Black Watch cast to construct Scottish theatre history and a launchpad to a new stage in his career.

It might be hard to recreate the buzz and excitement that Black Watch inspired, but with film, theatre and TV roles now under his belt and a growing fanbase hooked on his dashing looks, that tip that Emun Elliott is "one to watch" certainly seems to be on the money. And the name Emun Elliott, might well turn out to be one that everyone's heard of.

• Paradox, a five-part series, is on BBC1, on Tuesdays at 9pm. Catch up on the first two episodes on BBC iplayer.

 
 
 

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