Hannah goes back to roots with River City role

SHE is perhaps best known as Lady Virginia Bellamy in Upstairs Downstairs and for killing Victor Meldrew in the last episode of One Foot In The Grave.

But now Edinburgh-born actress Hannah Gordon has joined the cast of Scottish soap opera River City - despite the fact she has never watched an episode.

The 66-year-old, who now lives in England, said she agreed to star in the soap because it gave her the chance to come back and work in her native Scotland.

The former Trinity Academy pupil will make her first appearance in River City's Christmas special. The episode sees the rowdy Adams family - including Shellsuit Bob - win money betting on horse racing and reward themselves with Christmas at a luxury hotel.

Hannah plays a posh hotelier who must deal with the family's antics as they get into the Christmas spirit and disturb other guests.

Speaking during filming on location, at Strathblane Country House Hotel, near Glasgow, she said: "I had never seen River City so I really can't say what I thought of it.

"I had heard of River City. I had seen it advertised once when I was on a visit to Scotland, but that's all. I had never seen it because I live down south and they don't show it there.

"My agent simply rang me up and asked if I would like to be in it. I was sent a script and I liked it, but it was also hugely appealing because it meant I could come back and work in Scotland."

Hannah said she was also reassured because she is an admirer of actress Eileen McCallum, who is a regular on the soap.

She said: "I also thought that if someone like Eileen is on River City, then it must be good. She is a splendid actress."

She said spent her early career avoiding roles that would have typecast her as a Scot, but recently enjoyed crossing the Border to appear on Taggart and Monarch of the Glen. She said: "I left Scotland right at the start of my career and refused to play Scottish characters at first because I was determined not to be typecast.

"I had to sound English to find work and so-called regional accents were not accepted.

"But now when someone says 'would you like to come back to Scotland?' I say 'yes' immediately. I am a very proud Scot and I love to show off my country. I also love to come back and act with a Scots accent again.

"I have already done episodes of Taggart and Monarch of the Glen. Now I am thoroughly enjoying filming River City."

She also said that after spending most of her career in London, she was enjoying the broad Glasgow accents of the other characters on the soap.

She said: "I have had great fun. It is always daunting coming in to something established like River City, but the cast couldn't be nicer.

"It was wonderful to be on set with so many Scots accents around. Shellsuit Bob seems to be a national treasure."

DIVERSE ROLES OF CITY ACTRESS

HANNAH GORDON was born on April 9 1941 in Newhaven.

She went to school at Trinity Academy before moving to Glasgow to study drama at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama.

Early television appearances in the mid-1960s included programmes such as Out of the Unknown, The Wednesday Play, David Copperfield and Thirty-Minute Theatre.

In 1966-67, she played Kirsty in the Doctor Who serial The Highlanders, and in 1969 made appearances on Jackanory.

Her first appearance as Virginia Bellamy of the period drama Upstairs, Downstairs came in 1974.

From 1998 to 2002 she hosted the Channel 4 programme Watercolour Challenge. In 2000, Gordon played Glynis, the woman who killed Victor Meldrew in the final episode of One Foot in the Grave.