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Granny shows us how

AT the top of the Camera Obscura, a small crowd of visitors has gathered, their children running around impatiently, as they wait to get into the main attraction.

Around them, people carrying gaffer tape and wiring are scurrying to and fro, and a head briefly pops out of the door into the Obscura to apologise to the crowd and assure them it will just be another five minutes.

As the parents begin to shuffle their feet, the children get increasingly restless, and the small space becomes more and more cramped, a guide decides to explain what's happening. "We'll be able to go in in a minute, but the BBC are filming a children's show at the moment, so we just need to wait until they're done."

The assembled parents are still shuffling, until it is mentioned that the show is the latest by the people who brought the world the brightly coloured adventures of Balamory.

"That was a great show," pipes up one parent, and suddenly they all seem quite happy to wait.

Being filmed is Me Too!, a 4 million pre-school drama following the daily lives of eight different adults at work and their children, who are all looked after by childminder Granny Murray.

But while Balamory made a star out of the colourful houses of Tobermory, there is unlikely to be the same kind of rush to see the sights of the city of Riverseafingal, the setting for Me Too!, as, to be blunt, it doesn't exist.

The city has been created in a computer, using elements of Glasgow, Newcastle, Manchester, London and Edinburgh, and earlier this year the crew were filming in Princes Street Gardens and other streets in the Capital.

Familiar landmarks include London's famous Gherkin building, which in Riverseafingal is located right next to the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, while Edinburgh Castle is next to Waverley Station and just along the road from what looks like Old Trafford football stadium.

"This is an incredibly exciting project to bring to the world of pre-school children," says producer Helen Doherty.

"Me Too! presents a city to our pre-school audience that is friendly, accessible and full of adventure. It's a place where anything can happen, and often does."

Impressive as the city is, the star of the show is Granny Murray, who looks after the children of working parents in her basement flat in Tattiemoon Lane.

Dressed in a yellow jacket and brown skirt, with colourful stripy socks and big old fashioned carpet bag filled with goodies, Jane McCarry plays Granny Murray. She's better known to adults as Isa from Still Game.

"I've done quite a few things with kids in the past, including the children's show Hububb, as well as kids theatre groups, so really it's not new to me," she says.

"It can be a long day for them and there's lots of stopping, and shooting scenes again and again, so you need to be good with them."

And so it proves, with the crew taking three attempts to get a shot of Jane leading two of the children around the roof of Camera Obscura.

The whole production is shot on a very tight timescale, with staff explaining that as well as only having a certain amount of time at locations, they can only have the children for so long.

There are four children who work regularly on the show, and today five-year-old Rebecca Morrow, six-year-old Gary Russell and four-year-old Stephen Robinson, all from the Pace Theatre Company in Paisley, are helping film the scenes in Edinburgh.

They are looked after on set by the production company's chaperone Linsey Donnely, who this morning has the tricky task of telling a clearly upset Stephen why he can't play with Granny Murray just now.

"He's not in this shot, as it matches up with something we filmed months ago, but of course how do you explain that to a child?" she says, as she tries to cheer him up. "The kids don't call me Granny Linsey yet, thankfully, but they really adore Jane.

"We try to keep the shooting as short as possible for them, and they all enjoy it. Plus the parents love seeing their kids on the television."

The 74 episodes of the first series were filmed earlier this year, and have already been showing on BBC2 and the CBeebies channel for more than a month, to a great response.

And Jane reveals her two sons, Iain, four, and Alexander who's just one, are already fans of the show. "The baby's a bit young for it yet but he likes the music, but Iain really likes the show. He just thinks it's normal for kids' mothers to dress up and be on TV.

"He hasn't called me Granny Murray yet, but I have called myself 'Granny' in the house for a laugh."

Jane, 36, who lives in Glasgow, studied drama at Queen Margaret University College and admits she loves coming back to Edinburgh. "It's great, and the sun is always shining when I'm here!"

She has been working on the show since the start of the year, and will be with them until the second series finishes shooting in November.

"We've been working on it for a long time, and it's a really hectic schedule to get everything done," she says. "I think once I finish we're hoping to do a Christmas special for Still Game, and then maybe another series next year. And we'll maybe be doing more Me Too! which would be great.

"It's a lot of fun to work on, and because Granny Murray's quite a young granny I don't need to spend lots of time in make up like I do when I play Isa."

The nosey gossip from Still Game is certainly the part that Jane is most famous for, although she laughs when it is suggested Granny Murray is a slightly gentler version of the character.

"Isa's a lovely woman!" she says. "If anything I would say that Granny Murray is even more nosey than her, because she knows about everyone's business in this show, and she's always getting involved."

After the Camera Obscura, the small film crew moves on to Edinburgh Castle, for shots of an episode where Granny Murray takes the children on a trip to Riverseafingal Castle. The crew works around the hundreds of visitors, letting them wander around in and out of shots on the Esplanade and inside the Castle itself.

"We have lots of sets, but when we film on location, we want it to seem as real as possible, so to have people there is fine," says crew-member Diane Smith.

Also on set is Rebecca's mum, Catherine, who always accompanies her daughter and has already had a cameo role in the show.

"They put me in the background as a mother sitting on a bench," says Catherine. "I was happy to do it, though I think it will be odd seeing myself on TV."

"All her friends think its great. They are always wanting to meet Granny Murray!"

After the Castle shots are finished, it is off to Broughton Street, where a scene for a different episode is being filmed at clockmaker James Ritchie and Son.

Manageress Margaret Miller was given a small role, but she's unsure if she'll be in the show.

"I don't know whether it'll just be my hands or if you'll see my face, so I'll just need to wait and see," she says. "I've got a lot of nieces and nephews, so I'll have to tell them to look out for this. They'll be impressed."

Me Too! is on BBC2 at 9.30am and repeated on CBeebies.

 
 
 

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