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Scottish comedian Greg McHugh has come a long way since graduating from Glasgow's prestigious Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. The talented Scot won a BAFTA for the first series of his mockumentary show, Gary's War, and the new six-part series is due to be shown on TV in early 2011.
Gary: Tank Commander is about a soldier and his tank crew dealing with the differences between Midlothian and the Middle East, with flashback footage of the boys in Iraq and Gary giving interviews in which he offers his upbeat thoughts on the wider world.
Greg told The Hour: "The character came about because I’m from the east coast and obviously it's a bit exaggerated as I don't sound anything like him and I'm not quite as camp. There was a time when you would never hear an east coast accent on TV so it's good that I could take that forward and hopefully audiences have been attracted to a different thing."
Gary was spotted while performing at the Edinburgh Festival in 2005. His friend was working for the comedy unit as an assistant producer and asked Gary if he had any ideas for characters. He said: "We went on and improvised a scene in the back of my mum's car. Channel 4 saw it and commissioned it for a short - an E4 funny cut - and from there it just grew into other sketch shows and then the BBC picked it up."
Gary got the idea for his character because no other comedians in Scotland were talking about the war. He had opinions on it so thought it would be a good idea to put a light-hearted spin on it.
"We're not trying to impersonate soldiers badly, it's just that Gary is an unlikely person to be in the army," he said. "Some people may see that as offensive but in actual fact the feedback has been really positive."
Gary: Tank Commander has the monologues and the flashbacks which made Gary’' War so popular but the characters are more developed and the storylines are heightened and more exciting. "Everything's on a slightly bigger scale this year and hopefully people will enjoy that," Gary said. "There are still elements kept from the first series but this is just a bit bigger.
"I'm nervous but I'm proud of what I've made. We've made a good show. Comedy is so subjective, some people will love it and some people won't. I would love to do more serious roles or just different types of comedy. I don't think I'll be doing Gary forever but I'm happy to have done it at this level so far."
Gary's War will be released on DVD on November 8. Gary: Tank Commander will be broadcast on television in the spring.