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River City, Gary Tank Commander and 51 Shades of Maggie star Leah MacRae feeling fabulous ahead of first solo tour My Big Fat Fabulous Diary arriving at Eden Court, Inverness

By Kyle Walker

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LEAH MacRae has cultivated a lot talents over her years in showbiz.

The actress has stolen hearts and plucked heartstrings as Ellie McLean in BBC's River City, and brought laughter to the screens and stages of Scotland with her roles in Gary Tank Commander and the theatre production 51 Shades of Maggie.

But for her new show – My Big Fat Fabulous Diary, her first self-penned solo tour – she’s pushing the boat out into unknown waters, as she adds stand-up to her bow.

For somebody who first found work with performing sketch comedy with the Comedy Unit, you may think that it wasn’t so new for Leah – but you’d be wrong.

“For years the Comedy Unit had been saying, ‘you need to write, you need to do stand-up!’ and I was like no, no, I’m not a writer, and I’m not a stand-up! And here I am, doing both!” Leah laughed.

“Mick Perrin came to see me, and that’s how he became my promoter because he came to see the show – we were doing Tank Commander live, he produced that – and then he came to my wee show. And this guy’s an international world-famous comedy promoter – I thought, ‘he doesn’t want to come and see my show, that Scottish thing, no!’

“He said, ‘yeah, this is great.’ And he told me, ‘You’re a great stand-up!’ – no Mick, I’m not a stand-up! Even then! After he’d seen the show – no Mick, I’m not a stand-up, I’m an actress – and this complete denial!

“And he said, ‘Well, I’m afraid that I’m telling you that you’re doing stand-up, and I know about stand-up, and you’re doing it very well.’”

There’s a bit of comedy but there’s a message there as well – think every show should have a wee message!

There’s more to Leah MacRae and her big fat fabulous diary than stand-up though – there are songs, there are stories, and even a bit of pathos.

“It’s just a show about everything in life,” Leah explained. “It’s about weight problems, it’s about problems getting employed, it’s about your first love, your first heartache, it’s about having babies, having children – every kind of general life topic I think is thrown in there.”

And Glasgow-born Leah has enjoyed the tour dates so far – bringing her show across the country has given her the chance to show how the jokes have nationwide appeal. “It’s so well received, it’s such a great show, and so nice for me to take it out of the Central Belt and try it.

“Because you know what it’s like in Scotland, if you go 10 minutes down the road people are using a different language sometimes, you know? You don’t know if it’ll translate, and you don’t know if your jokes are, maybe, jokes from where you’re from or whether they’re kind of general things.

“But they seem to be working generally, and people can really identify with the stories.”

But the important thing for Leah is that her first solo show has people going away happy – and inspired. “There’s a message to the show as well – it’s a positive show about self-belief and believing in yourself and not letting things that happen to you knock you down, picking yourself back up.

“I’ve had a lot of messages from people who came to see it and it meant a lot to them and they’ve kind of taken it with them. There’s a bit of comedy but there’s a message there as well – think every show should have a wee message!

“There is a wee sad moment – I always like to put a wee sad moment in because I love that when you get the audience – they don’t expect it.”

She laughed again. “I’m always like, ‘ohhhh, I got you I got you!’”

Leah MacRae brings My Big Fat Fabulous Diary to Eden Court on Sunday, June 9. The show starts at 8pm and tickets cost £23 (£20 concession). For more info, go to www.leahmacrae.com

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