Ron Donachie was born Ronald Eaglesham Porter on April 26, 1956 in Dundee, Tayside, Scotland. He was educated at Madras College, St. Andrews and Glasgow University, from where he graduated with an M.A (Hons.) in English Literature and Drama in 1979. After a year working as a navvy, he joined the 7.84 theatre company for John Burrough's "One Big Blow", in which the cast mimicked a traditional, colliery band by singing in six part harmony. The success of the play led to the formation of the acapella band "The Flying Pickets", who had a Christmas number one in 1983. Donachie's decision not to stay with the band and thereby missing out on their success has been described by him as "one of my more brilliant career decisions."