Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh brings back iconic character


Robert Carlyle as Francis Begbie in the film adaptation of Trainspotting.

First aired on On the Coast (18/12/13)

Scottish author Irvine Welsh has brought back an iconic character from his blockbuster novel Trainspotting in a new short story for the International Network of Street Papers. It was published in 150 street newspapers around the world, including Vancouver's Megaphone.


In a recent interview with On the Coast, Welsh told host Stephen Quinn that he chose to write about Francis Begbie, who was portrayed by Robert Carlyle in the film adaptation of Trainspotting, "because it would be quite interesting to look at him in a different light and perhaps see different possibilities for him. Because he was the guy you wouldn't expect to change of the lot of them."

In the past, Welsh has depicted Begbie as a kind of career criminal. But he decided to write a story in which the violent, hard-drinking character "completely turns his life around" and "discovers art, discovers romance. He changes, or at least appears to change."

Welsh went on to admit that in fact "you don't know how much he has changed, or how much he's just actually kind of playing the game, to an extent. But he certainly has developed some kind of savvy, and some kind of understanding of his place in the world."

As for offering the story exclusively to the Network of Street Papers, Welsh sees these publications as serving an important function for the homeless. "It gives people a chance to earn some money, it gives them an opportunity for self-respect, it gives them something to do to be part of a community."

According to Welsh, street papers also provide an important service for their readership. He says that although the quality varies, many of them are among "the most radical and interesting publications in the world," and offer stories that aren't covered in the mainstream media. "You're seeing a different perspective on things."

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