5×5 With The Hook: Alan Doyle.

I still can’t believe the words, “5×5 With The Hook: Alan Doyle” appear above these.

As a good, patriotic Canadian lad I consider today’s guest a true Canuck legend. Of course, Alan would heartily disagree (as a Canadian, born and bred, being humble is embedded in his DNA) with my assessment, but his record speaks for itself.

As do his actual records.


But back to how awesome Alan Doyle is: He’s a musician with more down-to-earth soul than most, an actor who never appears to be acting (so you know he’s good), an author whose work is easily-accessible to anyone and a true Renaissance man. To top it off, Alan set a 5×5 record: He responded to my queries within hours! And yes, that’s definitely worthy of an exclamation point when you consider some people keep me waiting months. (Though I only mention that to make my point and now that I have, I shall move on.)

Summarizing Alan’s career is like holding a fistful of sand or making sense of Trump’s tweets… It just can’t be done. Nevertheless, let’s take a brief virtual stroll across the landscape of Alan Doye’s existence so far, shall we?

Alan first entered this world in Petty Harbour, Newfoundland, and truthfully, he never left. He carries that down home, salt-of-the-sea sensibility everywhere he goes and channels it into everything he does. Doyle met Séan McCann, Bob Hallett and Darrell Power with whom he helped to form Great Big Sea, while in university in St. John’s. Originally, they intended to form a Canadian version of the Avengers but since none of them had super powers and they all wanted to be Black Widow, they decided against it. (Is The Hook kidding? You never know, do you?)

Alan primarily plays electric and acoustic guitars, and the bouzouki for live performances, but he’s been known to play mandolin and banjo. Personally, I can’t even whistle. Or act. Or get a book published. Or get a role on Murdoch Mysteries. Man, if my wife ever meets Alan Doyle, I’m done for…

Music, like any form of art, can be deeply personal. When I’m Up (I Can’t Get Down) by Alan and the boys in Great Big Sea has always held a special place in my heart. To me, it showcases my own manic behavior at times and I often listen to this track in times of trouble. You know, since I don’t have a Mother Mary in my life to speak words of wisdom like “Let it be”.  And if you didn’t get that one, we have nothing further to discuss….

When I’m Up (I Can’t Get Down) was also a favorite song of a member of my family who has struggled with addiction over the years. The song deals with extreme behavior in human beings and so it speaks to this particular addict’s struggles and so on behalf of myself and my family, I’ll always be grateful to Alan and his musical family for creating it.

As a child, Doyle was been bitten by the acting bug, and appeared as an extra in the movie A Whale for the Killing based on Farley Mowat’s book of the same name, which was filmed in his hometown. In 2005, he composed music for the CBC comedy Hatching, Matching and Dispatching. In 2006, he worked on scoring the film Young Triffie’s Been Made Away With. Doyle has also produced an album for his sister, Michelle Doyle. I wasn’t kidding when I told you he was a Renaissance man.

Being Canadian, Doyle has never had any trouble making friends. His good pal, Russell Crowe (I think he’s a struggling actor) has two bands, 30 Odd Foot of Grunts and The Ordinary Fear of God, and Alan has worked with them both and produced and co-written several songs on Crowe’s album, My Hand, My Heart. In 2011 they released The Crowe/Doyle Songbook Vol.III.

After he lost a truckload of cash to Doyle in a curling match (that’s what I heard at least) Crowe cast Alan as Allan A’Dayle in director Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood in 2010. He played Dingy in the film Winter’s Tale with Crowe, Will Smith and Colin Farrell. I’m guessing Crowe advised Smith and Farrell against challenging a Canadian to any ice-themed sports.

16th June 2009. Russell Crowe is pictured on set filming the latest Robin Hood film. Also pictured, Scott Grimes. Credit: Ross/GoffPhotos.com Ref: KGC-96

Apparently Crowe is a stickler for authenticity in his films…

Doyle and Crowe’s friendship led to both appearing in an episode of Republic of Doyle on CBC, which was something of a big deal, to say the least. Alan appeared in three eps of Doyle in total and this lead to his coolest role to date, that of a character referred to as The Historian, on Murdoch Mysteries. I use the word “cool” because while MM has often flirted with themes like witchcraft and time travel, the show has never taken that definitive leap into the fantastical.

Until now that is.

The Historian appeared in two scenes of the MM tenth session ep,  A Murdog Mystery, where he alluded to the not-yet-built CN Tower and Canada’s 150th birthday. What the ep didn’t make clear was that Alan’s Historian is the focus of an ongoing MM web series, Beyond Time, available here.

This is by far the most intriguing MM storyline ever and a wonderful bonus for fans and newbs alike.

In addition to elevating MM’s pop culture standing, Alan Doyle has released a second solo album, (to be clear, nitpickers, it was released in 2015) entitled So Let’s Go, and is currently touring the heck out of it as well as his vast musical library. Alan even wrote a book, Where I Belong, about his youth in Newfoundland and Labrador. 

Okay, so I’ll admit my definition of “brief” leaves something to be desired! What can I say? Having Alan Doyle on my blog is something of a milestone. At his core, whether it’s through the printed page, vinyl, television or film… Alan Doyle is a storyteller and an amazing one at that. And I respect and admire storytellers because they give us all hope.

And now, finally, take it away, Alan!


ONE)  To me, you embody all that’s good about our home and native land, Alan.  (Hey,a little sucking up never hurt anyone, right?)  Please finish this sentence, “The best thing about being Canadian is…”

The best thing about being Canadian is the harmonious, cultural mosaic of languages, races, religions, music, art and all the rest of the welcomed diversity from coast to coast.

And poutine.



TWO)  As a musician you must feed off the audience’s energy; is it more difficult to bring your A-Game to acting, a profession that is disconnected from an audience as you’re performing?

I am a novice actor but my experience on set is that the crew, director and other actors become your audience on the day. You want to impress them just as much.



THREE)  What was the coolest aspect of playing a time traveling, Canadian historian with the best head of hair on TV?  (By the way, as a hardcore nerd, your storyline had me jumping out of my seat. Literally. Scared the hell out of the wife…) 

What a fun character to play! So fun because he kind of needed to come off as a little crazy.  On the edge of madness.  Its difficult to not take it too far, though.  The challenge is to have the his sanity and madness constantly in question.


Canadians know how to balance work and play expertly.  Plus, I’m guessing there’s an open bar on the MM set…



FOUR)  You’ve appeared on the CBC a handful of times now, would you ever consider joining a show full-time?  Or is music and live performing too important to you to relegate to part-time?

Music and, in particular, concerts are still my fave thing to do.  But I love the opportunity to act and learn from the best in that biz, the cast and crew on Murdoch are exceptional.



FIVE)  You’ve been “in the game” for awhile now (just how long is irrelevant) but in your words, “Like everyone, I have moments of self-doubt and worry if the momentum of it all has ceased to move forward.”  What words of wisdom can you offer to people out there who fear they’ll never achieve the fulfillment of their personal dreams?

(I don’t mean to be too heavy, folks, but Alan is the type of guy people really listen to. And Lord knows we could all use a little inspiration these days.)

Hmm.  Not sure I have many words of wisdom, ever.  But I often say, if you love the work, do the work with all your heart and soul.  That’s all that you’ll ever need.

(Told you he was amazing.)


All right, I’ve kept you from your lives long enough. I’ll never be able to thank Alan Doyle enough for putting my blog on a whole new level – in my mind, at least. My thanks to all of you, of course.

See you in the lobby, kids. Take us out. Alan…


About The Hook

Husband. Father. Bellman. Author of The Bellman Chronicles. Reader of comic books and observer and chronicler of the human condition. And to my wife's eternal dismay, a mere mortal and non-vampire. I'm often told I look like your uncle, cousin, etc. If I wore a hat, I'd hang it on a hat rack in my home in Niagara Falls, Canada. You can call me The Hook, everyone else does.
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19 Responses to 5×5 With The Hook: Alan Doyle.

  1. charflew23 says:

    I’ve met Alan and love this blog post beyond measure! Cheers to the best blog (so far)!

  2. Whoa, I’m in love (don’t tell my guy). Beautiful man, it seems, inside and out. I’m sorry to say (please don’t tell Alan) that I did not know of him. But I love the music, the movies, and the way the man expresses himself in both. Great ‘get’ of an interview. Congrats! (The video and song are fabulous, BTW…)

  3. There are definitely things we miss out on living in the “lower 48” but you have a great way of keeping us informed! 😉

  4. Marion Hardy says:

    Wonderful blog. What’could be better than 2 talented Canadians having a chat!!

  5. Another great one, Hook. They are getting better and better. (if that is possible)

  6. Thanks for sharing his music. I absolutely loved it. Something about it brought me right back to the coast of Maine (has a feel similar to the Maritime Provinces I believe) and life working on boats. I actually clicked on one of the suggested videos at the end, and enjoyed The Old Black Rum. Oh, boy! Did that one take me back! He sounds like an amazing man. Even though I can’t watch CBC, it’s a treat getting to know such talented people on your 5×5’s.

  7. Lynda says:

    Neither Alan nor Great Big Sea created “When I’m Up”. It’s a cover of an Oysterband song. A great cover, but a cover nonetheless. (Oysterband is an excellent band – and longtime friends of Alan’s and the rest of the GBS guys – check them out if you haven’t heard them!)

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