Scotch and Wry

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Scotch and Wry
Format Comedy
Directed by Gordon Menzies
Ron Bain
Brian Jobson
Starring Rikki Fulton
Country of origin Scotland, United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of episodes 24 (2 series & 12 specials)
Production
Producer(s) Gordon Menzies
Philip Differ
Location(s) BBC Broadcasting House, Glasgow, Scotland, UK
Camera setup Multi-camera
Production company(s) BBC Scotland
Broadcast
Original channel BBC One Scotland
Original run 30 September 1978 – 31 December 1992
Chronology
Preceded by The Scotched Earth Show

Scotch and Wry was a Scottish television comedy sketch show produced by BBC Scotland and starring Rikki Fulton. Initially running for two series in the late 1970s, the show went onto become a top-rating annual one-off Hogmanay special for over a decade.[1] The series also gave early exposure to actors such as Gregor Fisher, Tony Roper, Gerard Kelly and Miriam Margolyes.

History[edit]

Scotch and Wry developed from The Scotched Earth Show, a one-off special based on Scottish humorous writing, broadcast on New Year's Day 1977.[2] Fulton starred in the special, having made sporadic television appearances since the end of his Rikki series for STV.

Scotch and Wry first aired on BBC1 Scotland at 10.30pm on Saturday 30 September 1978. Its comedic focus was on predominantly Scottish (and in particular Glaswegian) humour, although the series also included material from London-based writers, including rejected scripts from The Two Ronnies[3] Overall, the viewer had to be familiar with the Glasgow Patter in order to understand many of the jokes. As a result, much of the humour was constructed around distinctly Glaswegian themes; such as the city's suburbs, its football clubs, and even its famous sectarian divide was also played for laughs. The programmes (and some personalities) of rival ITV station STV (most notably Late Call) were frequently parodied on the show. In the later Hogmanay specials, a greater emphasis was placed on major news events that had happened during the previous year as their basis.

Another regular target in many sketches was Lanarkshire singer Sydney Devine, who later became one of the show's many guest stars, appearing in a parody of Phantom of the Opera. In later years, it became customary of Scotch and Wry to include a post-closing credits sketch, which was usually a dig at The Hogmanay Show that followed immediately afterwards. The best remembered skit involved Fulton interrupting a party to throw his television out of the window just before the show started.

For several years, Scotch and Wry also aired on BBC1 Northern Ireland but was given only one full networked airing by the BBC - the 1982 Hogmanay special aired outside Scotland on New Year's Day 1983.[4] The last episode aired on Thursday 31 December 1992. Comedy specials have continued to air each Hogmanay on BBC1 Scotland, including Chewin' the Fat, Still Game and Only an Excuse?. Fulton also revived his Reverend I.M. Jolly character for a series of spin-off Hogmanay specials during the 1990s - Tis' the Season to the Jolly, A Man for All Seasons, I.M. Jolly: A Life Less Ordinary and It's A Jolly Life.

Characters[edit]

  • Last Call: the programme's signature sketch was a parody of Scottish Television's nightly epilogue Late Call. Each episode ended with a monologue, delivered by a series of fictional ministers played by Fulton. The most prolific character from the sketch was the perennially depressed Reverend I.M. Jolly. The 'epilogues' were at first deemed controversial and blasphemous by the church. Fulton defended the sketches, stating Last Call was parodying the STV epilogues rather than the Kirk itself.[5] After the series finished, Jolly's "Last Call" epilogues continued to be part of the Hogmanay programming during the 1990s. The Jolly monologues usually contained references to his mysterious wife "Ephesia", and the antics of church organist "Mr. Bampot" - neither of which are seen (but are referred to) in the spin-off specials.
  • Supercop, an incompetent traffic policeman with the catchphrase "OK, Stirling, oot the car!", only to find himself dealing with Batman, an extraterrestrial, DCI Jim Taggart, Dr Crippen or any other unlikely traffic offender. In one sketch, it is revealed that Supercop's real name is Andy Ross.
  • Dirty Dickie Dandruff - an extremely unhygienic television chef billed as the Gallowgate Gourmet, based at "Dick's Delicatmessen".
  • Aloycious {AKA Tam} McGlinchey, a colourful Rab C Nesbitt-esque character.
  • Alky Broon, similar to the Dickie Dandruff character, who first appeared in 1983 as a terminally unhygienic barber, and later as a cack-handed dentist.
  • Ticket Clerk, an unsympathetic ticket clerk, intended to poke fun at British Rail. He regularly would pull the shutter down in front of an unfortunate passenger with the line the last train left five minutes ago.

Notable one-offs[edit]

  • Reverend David Goodchild - from one of the series' most popular sketches. He un-knowingly gets drunk during his Last Call epilogue after his water decanter is accidentally spiked with gin by a floor manager.
  • Reverend W.E Free, a hypocritical Free Presbyterian minister who uses his Last Call to go into a diatribe about the "sins" of his parishioners - only to reveal he wished he could be as sinful as them.
  • Rangers F.C. were regularly parodied. The best known football sketch from the series saw their manager (Fulton) being convinced by a new scout (Fisher) to sign a stand-out player, only to discover he is a Roman Catholic, immediately after having signed the contract. The humour from the sketch derives from the manager's failed attempts to, as subtly as possible, find an excuse to get out of the contract and prevent him from playing.
  • Big Chief Swift Half, an unemployed Glaswegian who dresses up as a Red Indian to get out of getting a job.
  • Mrs Ida Closeshave, a woman who talked about the events of her missionary work on Last Call
  • S.W Duff, a funeral director.

Key one-off parodies included Bonnie Prince Charlie, Robert the Bruce, The Beechgrove Garden, The Curries (a send up of The Corries) and Box 2001 1/2 (a parody of STV's public service announcements). Feature guest stars from the series of Hogmanay specials included Barry McGuigan, Jim Watt, Mark McManus, Gavin Hastings, Dougie Donnelly and Archie Macpherson.

Repeats and releases[edit]

Several compilation programmes have been broadcast, including a six-part series The Very Best of Scotch and Wry, aired in 2004 following the death of Rikki Fulton. The original series was also aired on UK Gold from 1994-1995.

A home video compilation in 1986 was followed by further releases in 1987, 1990 and 1992 - all four compilations were re-released on DVD in 2006. The IM Jolly specials were also released on VHS in the mid 1990s and latterly on DVD in 2006.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Jolly good show, Rikki: Reputations Rikki Fulton. The Observer (1901- 2003); 31 Dec 1989;
  2. ^ http://www.retrojunk.com/content/index/4965/scotch-and-wry
  3. ^ http://www.retrojunk.com/content/index/4965/scotch-and-wry
  4. ^ http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/2004/jan/30/guardianobituaries.artsobituaries
  5. ^ Jolly good show, Rikki: Reputations Rikki Fulton. The Observer (1901- 2003); 31 Dec 1989;