SCOTTISH actor Paul Higgins says he doesn’t use social media much but, as with anything, there are exceptions to every rule.

Last year, he understandably had to share a scene with one of the most famous faces to ever grace the small screen – Lisa Simpson.

“It was so surreal. I didn’t mind putting it out on social media because it’s such a novelty,” the actor told The National after finishing rehearsals for his new play This is Memorial Device.

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As well as that short but memorable role in The Simpsons, Higgins is also known for his time on Line of Duty as well as political comedy The Thick of It. 

Ahead of opening night, the actor spoke with The National about his latest role, his time playing a sweary Downing Street press officer, and that Simpsons cameo.

This is Memorial Device

Higgins explains that his latest role is familiar to him, having also performed a version of the play at the Fringe a couple of years ago.

Based on the book by David Keenan and directed by Graham Eatough, it recounts the fictional history of legendary 1980s post-punk band Memorial Device.

Having amassed something of a cult following since its release in 2017, Higgins can’t wait for opening night on March 27 at the Tron Theatre in Glasgow.

“I hadn’t read the book or heard of it, even though it’s set in Airdrie and in a time when I was young or at least younger than I am now,” he says.

“It’s only one actor in the play in the flesh and Graham has done a fantastic job of adapting.”

Although it opens in Glasgow, the play will also be touring around the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh, the Lemon Tree in Aberdeen and Riverside Studios in London.

More information on tickets can be found HERE and Higgins says the most exciting thing is seeing keeping an eye on how the audience reacts.

“When we did it at the Fringe, the audience responded incredibly well. I think it’s unusual in what it tries to do,” he explains.

“It’s entertaining, it’s funny but you go on a journey to very unexpected places and that includes me.

“It’s so demanding but to find audiences really respond to it and be given another chance in Glasgow, and everywhere else, is really a dream.”

Reflecting on Jamie MacDonald

Many will likely recognise Higgins for his portrayal of Jamie MacDonald – the foul-mouthed press officer at Number 10 in hit BBC comedy The Thick of It as well as the feature-length film In The Loop.

He formed half of the “Caledonian Mafia” with Malcolm Tucker, so brilliantly brought to life by Peter Capaldi (below).

The National: Peter Capaldi (Matt Crossick/PA)

“I loved it. I did some hour-long specials which I really enjoyed because there was more scope for the characters,” Higgins says.

When asked recently about whether he’d be keen on rebooting the show, Capaldi told LBC he felt politics had grown too serious – does his old co-star agree?

“I do actually. Obviously you have Trump who is beyond belief, he is literally beyond parody that man, but so is Boris Johnson.

“He’s not quite beyond parody but he was getting there. They were two of the biggest liars to ever be in power.”

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That being said, he doesn’t say that satire is completely dead, noting that Sunak and Starmer don’t quite have the same pantomime villain qualities as those he mentioned.

“Whatever you think of them, I don’t think they’re ‘arch villains’ like those two were. So maybe there will be a place for something like The Thick of It in the future.

“But the pandemic and everything was just unbelievable and then you have people like Putin standing for election and pretending he’s thrilled to win – it really is hard to make comedy about that.”

The Simpsons cameo

Understandably, a smile comes across Higgins’ face when he’s asked about the dialogue he provided for an episode of The Simpsons where the iconic family heads to Edinburgh.

He voiced both Hamish MacWeldon and the Ticket Booth actor in a scene which satirises what people can expect from the Fringe.

The memory of being offered the part is crystal clear, with Higgins saying he got a letter from his agent with The Simpsons logo on its header.

“I said, of course I’ll do it. I mean, what a dream because I love The Simpsons and it’s a really funny little scene,” he says.

“I didn’t mind putting it out there on Twitter because it’s such a novelty. In the titles, my own name appears next to Bart Simpson so I’m in a scene with Lisa and my name is over Bart.

“So I can probably retire on that.”