The Day I Met… James Nesbitt


This bonus entry in the The Day I Met… Competition comes from Emma, who lives in the northern Irish countryside. She blogs at Adventures of an Unfit Mother. Her story involves an encounter with a very fine actor who is also well known for his charm and twinkle – James Nesbitt.

Emma herself admits she’s cheating with her entry.  “I’m playing a bit fast and loose with the rules,” she says. “But felt it was worth sharing.” And she’s right. I’ll reveal her rule bending in a moment, but first here’s a reminder of James Nesbitt’s work for those who need it.


He hit the big time as one of the ensemble cast of Cold Feet – a bit like a British Friends. He was going out with Helen Baxendale, who later popped up in Friends to marry Ross. (Didn’t work out.) He was the menacing undercover cop in Murphy’s Law (based on stories by Colin Bateman) and appeared in various films including Waking Ned (Waking Ned Devine in America) and is in the forthcoming hairy-footed epic, The Hobbit.

Hobbit (Okay, not really a hobbit, but a dwarf called Bofur in The Hobbit)

He was just great in Bloody Sunday directed by Paul Greengrass (Bourne & United 93) as civil rights leader and MP Ivan Cooper – and great again as the bereaved brother in Five Minutes of Heaven who refuses to give a killer easy absolution for the sake of TV cameras and the “peace process”.

The catch in Emma’s story is that it wasn’t her, but her Mum who met this particular star. But that’s fine, because that’s why it works. So here is…

The day my Mum met… James Nesbitt.

At a family wedding a number of years ago, the guest list included none other than James Nesbitt, the Northern Irish actor. He had gone to school with the groom. At the time he was starring in BT [British Telecom – the main UK phone network] ads on TV, as well as being one of the leads in Cold Feet – a very popular drama at the time.

In other words, he was doing very well for himself, thank you very much.

There was a low hum of excitement as he entered the church, but in typical Irish fashion he was then pretty much nonchalantly ignored..

Later in the day my Mum happened to be placed next to him at the table. Too this day, I have no idea whether this was a clever orchestration or happy chance, because unlike most of the folk at the wedding that day, she was genuinely oblivious as to his identity.

After polite introductions and an enquiry as to how he knew the groom, my mother innocently went straight for the jugular. “And what do you do for a living, James?” she asked.

His eyes widened slightly in surprise, but he could see that the question was without malice. “I’m an actor,” says he.

“Oh really! Good for you. What sort of acting do you do?” was her warm response.

“Oh, I do a bit of TV,” he answered, I think, understandably wondering whether an embarrassed penny was poised to drop.

Alas, no.

“Oh well done!” she said, actually patting his hand at this point. “I’m afraid I don’t watch much TV.”

And with that, she turned her attention to the elderly lady on her left. I believe Mr Nesbitt was uncharacteristically subdued for the rest of the meal.

I can just picture the consolatory pat on the hand. I would take wicked delight in a great I Am being taken down a peg or two, if it were not for the inconvenient fact that he’s such a charming fella.

As well as giving me a laugh, the story also raises a question of celebrity etiquette. As a celeb, do you presume (with good reason) that you’re known – and risk being thought arrogant. Or do you introduce yourself and thereby risk patronising the other person or implying they’ve been living under a rock. (You see? And you thought celebrity was all wine and roses. Or in James’s case, all Guinness and… and more Guinness. Probably. Though I may just be projecting again.)

Thanks very much to Emma at Adventures of an Unfit Mother for supplying the story. She has chosen Star of the Sea by Joseph O’Connor (which is very good) as her prize. jealous? Well send in a story and a similar glittering prize can be yours. The rules are here – but basically just send in a story of an encounter with a celeb – especially if it’s funny, silly or disastrous. Have a look at previous entries to get an idea…

Alarmingly I’m due to have a repeat encounter with the person who inspired this competition in a few hours. Hope it goes better this time. I’ll let you know.



Filed under Guest Posts, The Day I Met... Competition

11 responses to “The Day I Met… James Nesbitt

  1. Another fine installment, as has come to be expected. The exhange seemed to be handled well by both parties involved, with class. As far as Mr. Nesbitt is concerned, he was very good in both Bloody Sunday and Waking Ned Divine, I seem to remember Ballkissangel being shown here in the States on BBC or PBS and catching a few episodes but can’t place him. He was exellent in Resurrection Man as well.

    • blackwatertown

      I had forgotten that he was in that one too..
      Eoin McNamee wrote the book and the screenplay too I think – one of my favourite writers – he creates such a convincing and dark sense of place and time – have most of his books – particularly enjoyed The Blue Tango and The Ultras. Real – based on real events – but pushed a little beyond the official record.

  2. Now that is a real beaut of a story. Thank you Emma.

    BWT, I hope your meeting with FF goes well today.

  3. Love this story. Your mum is a real down to earth person Emma; the kind who bring the high and mighty back to reality.

  4. I absolutely loved reading this story — your mom sounds FANTASTIC!

  5. Hee hee-thank you very much-I’ll make sure and tell her. She once cornered Jeremy Paxman in Heathrow and had a good chat about when he lived in Belfast. A desperate woman altogether!!

  6. Lovely story and, knowing your Mum Emma, I can picture it in every detail!
    For those who haven’t made the connection to Emma’s own blog, make the small jump over there for a laugh at her own celebrity encounters. Is Kenneth Brannagh smiling in that photo, or in fear for his life….. you can all judge for yourselves.

  7. Helen Waters

    Oh no! Just realised that my blog reply has been entered under Paul’s name. Clearly his details were still logged into my laptop from his last visit here. So, I’ve deleted them to prevent a repeat occurrence, (although I could have made some mischief here).
    What I wanted to say was..
    Lovely story and, knowing your Mum Emma, I can picture it in every detail!
    For those who haven’t made the connection to Emma’s own blog, make the small jump over there for a laugh at her own celebrity encounters. Is Kenneth Brannagh smiling in that photo, or in fear for his life….. you can all judge for yourselves.

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