Pollyanna McIntosh talks of Bob Servant Independent
Back then, as a 16-year-old schoolgirl, Scottish stunner Pollyanna McIntosh beat off 3000 other hopefuls to win a year-long contract with top London model agency Storm and went on to pursue a glamorous career on the international catwalks.
But with no fewer than seven films out this year, including the big screen adaptation of Irvine Welsh’s Filth, starring opposite James McAvoy and Jamie Bell, and the female lead role in new comedy series Bob Servant Independent, which starts tonight on BBC Four, the former Pirelli calendar girl’s star is set to rise even higher in the coming months.
Born in Alexandria, near Helensburgh, she moved to Portugal when she was two, then on to Colombia when she was five before moving to Edinburgh at the age of nine.
It was then she was sent to acting school by her mother one day a week - and she fell in love with it.
“I’ve always loved great stories and always loved characters who push things to the limits and feed my imagination,” says the former Boroughmuir High pupil.
“My father was also an actor [David McIntosh appeared with Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor in the 1967 film Dr Faustus] and he and my grandmother had the same way about them as I do.
“They were constantly doing daft impressions and making up imaginary scenarios... there’s always been a lot of humour in our family and that’s where I get it from.”
McIntosh cut her chops at Edinburgh Acting School before joining Edinburgh Youth Theatre. She performed in various plays in the Capital before putting both her studies and acting career on hold to travel the world as a model.
“It came at a good time for me,” she says of the modelling contract with Storm. “I was 16 and I already had all my highers. I was in a position to leave school. I was able to get in to university and delay that for two years whilst I modelled and had a new adventure.”
Laughing, she adds, “When I set off for London I felt like Dick Whittington. It was great!”
After graduating in drama and theatre studies she started landing movie roles on a regular basis, including Headspace (2005), 9 Lives of Mara (2007), Exam (2009) Burke and Hare (2010).
Most notably, she received heaps of acclaim for her part in 2011’s The Woman, a controversial horror in which she played a feral woman who is kidnapped by a family man, chained up in his cellar and brutalised.
That was an intense part to play, so understandably she was delighted to get the chance to turn her talents to comedy in Bob Servant Independent, starring alongside Brian Cox, Jonathan Watson, Rufus Jones and Greg McHugh.
“I’m really looking forward to the series starting,” she enthuses. “I’ve seen all the episodes and I’m really excited for everyone to see it, not least because I think some great Scottish actors will get recognised for their work down south.”
Bob Servant Independent follows the highs and the lows of a local cheeseburger tycoon (Cox, in the title role) who bids to win power in Broughty Ferry after the death of the sitting MP.
McIntosh plays Philippa, the wife and campaign manager of his rival - slick, seasoned politician Nick Edwards (Jones).
“Philippa’s the ventriloquist of her husband,” explains the actress. “She’s the one in charge of the campaign - and in charge of him. But they like it that way.
“She functions well in Westminister and is the embodiment of a successful female politician. That’s confusing to Bob, who thinks someone in a skirt shouldn’t be that way. He feels very threatened by her, not least because the Edwards’ campaign is so much better than his.
“Obviously they don’t get on,” she adds. “Bob dismisses Philippa as ‘a pretty Hitler’, and she just thinks he’s a numpty.”
• Bob Servant Independent, BBC Four, 10pm
• Brand new BBC4 comedy series Bob Servant Independent follows the trials and tribulations of Bob Servant (Brian Cox) as he endeavours to sell himself, relentlessly, to the good people of Broughty Ferry.
Broughty Ferry doesn’t know what’s hit it. The sudden death of the sitting MP has resulted in a by-election that could change the political map of the UK. Bob Servant has been waiting his whole life for this level of attention and he’s willing to do anything to keep it.
Bob sells himself as a man of the people but doesn’t really like people. He also has absolutely no understanding of the political process and uses the by-election campaign as a heaven sent opportunity for self-promotion. His campaign manager is Frank (Jonathan Watson), Bob’s long-suffering best friend and neighbour, and their love-hate relationship is a central aspect of Bob Servant Independent.
As the series progresses, Bob has an increasingly fractious relationship with the favourite to win the seat, a slick professional politician called Nick Edwards (Rufus Jones). Bob also struggles to deal with Edwards’ campaign manager (and wife), Philippa Edwards (Pollyanna McIntosh), a smart, no-nonsense woman, always two steps ahead of Frank.
The two campaigns jar markedly while the series builds to the natural climax of election night.