Greg McHugh is one of Scotland’s most beloved actors and comedians. He rose to fame portraying Gary Tank Commander, a sunny and simple army veteran who gets up to pranks in his hometown with his pals and family while on leave from the Middle East. Greg went on to play endearing nerd Howard in the student-themed comedy drama Fresh Meat, and reprised his role as Gary Tank Commander for a stage show at Glasgow’s Hydro in 2016. He recently turned up as Teddy in black-comedy thriller Guilt, and will return to Edinburgh Festival as Gary for ten days this summer.
Greg also chose a humanist celebrant for his wedding! Neither he nor his partner Katie follow a religion, and they loved the freedom that a humanist ceremony gave them to choose their own location, make their own vows, and focus on the people rather than the pomp. We caught up with Greg to talk comedy, celebration, good causes, and ten-year anniversaries.
Can you tell us a bit about how you got into acting and comedy, Greg?
I think I caught the acting bug in the final year at high school in Edinburgh, when I opted to study drama. At the time the drama teacher made me come and speak to her to make sure it wasn’t a wind up. I’d always harboured a desire to try acting but had never been involved in any youth theatre-type stuff. During Higher Drama I found my love of acting but was introduced into the world of writing, via the Class Act scheme run by the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh. The scheme is still running today, and it involves the student writing a short piece of theatre which is then turned into a professional production with actors and directors. I actually performed in a ‘Class Act’ piece last year at the Traverse as an actor…. It’s a brilliant project which has had a huge influence on my chosen career.
I understand you had a humanist wedding. Can you tell us a bit more about that? When, where, who, etcetera!
That is correct! On behalf on my wife and I, I can tell you we got married 10 YEARS AGO THIS MAY 13TH! In yurts, in the village field in Achmore, close to Plockton in the North West Highlands. My wife, Katie, is from that part of the world. It’s utterly beautiful (as is she! Booom!) but most importantly it has zero mobile phone reception so we knew the wedding guests would have to interact with each other like proper humans! We chose a Humanist ceremony because neither Katie or I are religious and when we looked into the Humanist Society and how they conduct weddings it seemed such a brilliant approach: celebrating the people involved rather than a day dominated by a lot of “higher power” chat.
Our fantastic celebrant Penelope Hamilton took us through proceedings and explained how it was really up to us what we wanted to say and what music and readings we wanted to have. It was a really brilliant process, where Katie and I were encouraged to talk about each other and choose readings and songs which meant something to us. It was genuinely the best day of my life (hopefully Katie’s as well). We had an incredible mix of people at the wedding: lots of silly actor types, obviously a whole heap of family, and a lovely number of friends from the local community and further afield.
We chose a humanist ceremony because neither Katie or I are religious and when we looked into the Humanist society it seemed such a brilliant approach, celebrating the people involved rather than a day dominated by a lot of ‘higher power’ chatGreg McHugh
One thing lots of people really enjoy about Humanist weddings is the freedom to make their own vows. Were there any surprises in yours? And any other curveballs you threw in across the day?
Well, Katie and I didn’t reveal all our vows to each other prior to the day, and whilst I can’t remember all of the vows, I do remember that we both mentioned our mutual love of curry and how that would be important to our future lives together: pretty intellectual stuff! We also chose the song “When I’m 64” by The Beatles and encouraged everyone to sing along, with a backing band of close friends on kazoos!!! I always remember this moment of people singing along, a silly but joyous moment which was a celebration of love, and people coming together, nonsense in many ways but incredibly important in another. Pure unadulterated joy should feature in every wedding ceremony in my view.
You’ve worked on good causes in the past, like your surprise appearance on Andy Murray Live to raise funds for UNICEF and Glasgow-based charity Young People’s Futures. What sort of causes do you feel strongly about outside acting?
I donate to a number of causes and do what I can for charity. My most recent charitable involvement was volunteering myself as a prize to have a meal with, as part of the Spring Ball at Prestonfield House Hotel. I’m not sure it’s much of a prize watching me eat, but I was very happy to raise some money for Crohn’s and Colitis UK and The Edinburgh Children’s Hospital Charity’s IBD research.
What would you say to anyone thinking about having a Humanist wedding?
If you want to celebrate people, and joy, and a gathering of love and friendship, and don’t want the day dominated by other-worldly, utterings (no judgement if you do) then I could not recommend a Humanist wedding enough!!
What’s coming up for you in acting, comedy, and life?
Series three of Guilt has recently been on the BBC. I play Teddy the psycho. I’ve just started voicing a CBBC animation series, so my kids can at least HEAR something I do. And I’m appearing at the Edinburgh Festival in August for ten nights at the Gilded Balloon, as Gary: Tank Commander (who has been given his own chat show).
Humanist weddings and civil partnerships
A humanist wedding or civil partnership lets you celebrate your day your way. Your humanist celebrant will involve you in planning and writing your ceremony, creating a ceremony that’s a true reflection of you and your partner.
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