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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 January, 2004, 14:07 GMT
Comic legend Rikki Fulton dies
Rikki Fulton
Rikki Fulton became a much-loved performer
The comedian and actor Rikki Fulton has died aged 79 after a number of years battling with Alzheimer's disease.

His widow Kate said he died peacefully on Tuesday night in a Glasgow nursing home.

Rikki will probably be best remembered as the Reverend IM Jolly, a regular character in his long-running television show Scotch and Wry.

Earlier in his career he formed the double act Francie and Josie with his stage partner Jack Milroy.

His wife Kate was by his side when he passed away.

She told the Herald newspaper: "It was an incredibly peaceful end. Rikki had not been able to talk for the last couple of days but he was always a great kisser and had not lost that talent when he kissed me goodbye.

He was always a great kisser and had not lost that talent when he kissed me goodbye
Kate Fulton
"He had developed an infection last year while in hospital and the doctors feared that, as happens with many Alzheimer's sufferers, it would take him away.

"Rikki had a very strong heart and managed to survive but the infection came back and took him this time. He would have been 80 in April."

Born in the East End of Glasgow to a non-theatrical family he became a full-time performer after wartime service in the Royal Navy and a period working in a shipping agency.

As well as acting in and writing television comedy, Rikki appeared in the theatre and in films such as Local Hero and Gorky Park.

His Scotch and Wry programmes on BBC Scotland became an institution at Hogmanay.

Jack Milroy and Rikki Fulton
Rikki (right) was one half of duo Francie and Josie

BBC Scotland Controller John McCormick said: "He was a legend for people across the whole country.

"Scotch and Wry was watched by half of the population of this country.

"Those figures will never be exceeded and it was Rikki they made the appointment with on Hogmanay."

First Minister Jack McConnell described Rikki as "Mr Hogmanay".

He said: "He was one of Scotland's great entertainers who made the move from stage to screen with considerable style.

'National treasure'

"He was Mr Hogmanay and all those who knew him will miss the laughter he created."

Scottish National Party leader John Swinney said: "Rikki Fulton brought laughter into millions of homes across Scotland. He was more than just an entertainer, he was a national treasure."

Comedian Tony Roper, who starred in BBC Scotland comedy Rab C Nesbitt, said: "He was one of those comic actors who actually didn't need a funny joke. What he did was he created the comedy before your eyes.

Johnny Beattie
Johnny Beattie said the death is a "sad loss"
Veteran comedian Johnny Beattie said Rikki's death was a "sad loss".

He said: "He was a comic genius. Hogmanay TV has never been the same."

Newspaper columnist Tom Shields said: "Part of the New Year ritual was to watch Rikki's Scotch and Wry programme just before the bells.

"It was all the wonderful sketches that he put together. He was one of Scotland's finest comic actors.

"The man really had a supreme range of talents. He was also a fantastic actor and had a wonderful Glasgow voice."

In 1993, Rikki received a lifetime achievement award from Bafta Scotland.

Last year, the comic had spoken about his efforts to confront the effects of his degenerative brain disease and its impact on his family.


WATCH AND LISTEN
Pauline McLean reports
"Rikki died with his wife at his bedside"



SEE ALSO:
Rikki tells of brain disease
21 Feb 03  |  Scotland
Hope on nerve diseases
31 Jan 03  |  Health
Alzheimer's disease
20 Dec 00  |  Medical notes


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