Scotch and Wry

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Scotch and Wry
Directed byGordon Menzies (1978-1989)
Brian Jobson (1989-1990)
Ron Bain (1990-1992)
StarringRikki Fulton
Gregor Fisher
Tony Roper
Claire Nielson
Juliet Cadzow
John Bett
Barbara Dickson
Theme music composerReg Tilsley
Country of originScotland
Original language(s)English
No. of episodes24 (2 series & 12 specials)
Executive producer(s)Gordon Menzies (1990-92)
Producer(s)Gordon Menzies (1978-1989)
Philip Differ (1990-1991)
Tony Roper (1992)
Production location(s)BBC Broadcasting House, Glasgow, Scotland, UK
Camera setupMulti-camera
Production company(s)BBC Scotland
Original networkBBC One Scotland
Original release30 September 1978 –
31 December 1992
Preceded byThe Scotched Earth Show
Followed byOnly an Excuse?

Scotch and Wry is a Scottish television comedy sketch show produced by BBC Scotland and starring Rikki Fulton and a revolving ensemble cast which over the years included Gregor Fisher, Tony Roper, Claire Nielson, Juliet Cadzow and John Bett.

Initially running for two series from 1978 to 1979, the show went on to become a top-rating annual Hogmanay special for over a decade.[1] The series also gave early exposure to emerging Scottish actors such as Gerard Kelly and Miriam Margolyes. In later years, cast members from sister BBC Scotland comedy show Naked Video would also make sporadic appearances.


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] The show's signature tune throughout its entire run was a library track - Sexy Sox, composed by Reg Tilsley.[4]

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, singer Barbara Dickson made regular appearances in musical interludes. It also became customary of Scotch and Wry to include a post-closing credits sketch, which was often a dig at The Hogmanay Show that followed immediately afterwards. The best remembered skit - from the 1985 special - 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.[5] The last new episode - produced by regular cast member Tony Roper - 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 (1993), A Man for All Seasons (1994), Jolly: A Life (1995) and It's A Jolly Life (1999), which marked the character's farewell appearance. A specially recorded compilation, introduced by Fulton, aired in 1996 to mark the 50th anniversary of his show business career.


  • Last Call: the programme's signature sketch was a parody of Scottish Television's nightly epilogue Late Call (its name being a play on the bar term “last call”). Each episode ended with a monologue, delivered by a series of fictional ministers with a pun name and played by Fulton. The 'epilogues' were at first deemed controversial and blasphemous by the Church of Scotland. Fulton defended the sketches, stating Last Call was parodying the STV epilogues rather than the Kirk itself.[6] The sketches opened and closed with an excerpt of the second movement from Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 5. Among the ministers who delivered Last Call sermonettes:
    • Reverend I.M. Jolly, an ironically named and perpetually depressed minister who delivered the majority of the Last Call epilogues. 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. After the series finished, Jolly's Last Call epilogues continued to be part of Hogmanay programming during the 1990s.
    • Reverend David Goodchild: in a variant of a popular American vaudeville sketch from Red Skelton's repertoire,[7] Goodchild's water decanter is accidentally spiked with gin, and as a result, he slowly gets more and more drunk as his monologue progresses. This sketch is regarded as one of the most memorable and popular in the show, and can also be regarded as one of Fulton's finest comic performances.
    • 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 envied their ability to partake in such sins.
    • Mrs Ida Closeshave, a woman who talked about the events surrounding her missionary work.
    • Father Kevin Dulally, a Roman Catholic priest who must hold his bladder through the entire epilogue, due to not being able to use the bathroom before recording.
    • The Very Rev. A. King Bones, an elderly and befuddled minister with thick eyeglasses.
  • Andrew (Andy) Ross the 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 (including, in one sketch, the Reverend I.M. Jolly).
  • 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]

  • Rangers F.C. were regularly parodied (as were Celtic F.C., their crosstown and sectarian rival). The best known football sketch from the series saw the Rangers manager (Fulton) being convinced by a new scout (Fisher) to sign a stand-out player (Gerard Kelly), only to discover, immediately after having signed the contract, that the young prospect is a Roman Catholic. 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.
  • Michael Jackson from Jordanhill, Fulton again plays an unemployed Glaswegian trying to be hired by a talent scout, but dressed in a bizarre disguise as Michael Jackson (parodying Jackson's famous costume from the album Bad (album)). When the ruse fails, he tries again, this time as "Shirley Bassey from Bearsden".
  • 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 Hogmanay special in 1996 - marking Fulton's 50-year anniversary in show business - and 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.

Scotch and Wry first became available on VHS with four special compilations released by BBC Video during the mid to late 1980s and early 1990s. The first was Scotch & Wry, which was released in 1986, and proved such a massive hit that a second compilation, Double Scotch & Wry, followed in 1987, proving almost as popular. Each video was 90 minutes in length and featured sketches right up to the 1985 and 1986 specials respectively. A third video, Triple Scotch & Wry, was released in 1990 and finally a fourth video, Scotch & Wry 4: Prince of Pochlers, in 1992.

All four compilations were subsequently re-released on DVD in 2006, and again as part of The Ultimate Rikki Fulton Collection DVD box set in 2007. However, a full release of the first two full series and all 12 subsequent Hogmanay specials remains unlikely.