Scotch and Wry, Scotland's greatest comedy.
As the rest of the world celebrates New year's Eve and bringing in 2012, there's the little matter of Hogmanay. You might think it's just a fancy scottish word for the start of a three day party (which it is), but it's a special time of year. And for those of us who watched the new year come in on TV, it's the point of year where we all miss Rikki Fulton's Scotch and Wry - a TV ritual for over twenty years that has never been equalled.
Scottish Music Hall and TV comedian Fulton (1924-2004) was already a star when he was given a sketch comedy series on BBC TV. Running for a full series in 1978 and 1979, it moved to a "once a year" slot from 1115pm to 1145pm, essentially the last program of the year (before a live broadcast from somewhere) from 1980 to 1992 (although one certain sketch continued to be a tradition until 1999).
It broke boundaries, it pushed the edge of the comedy envelope, but it was never cruel. Distinctly Scottish, and with a huge base in Glaswegian humour, it never really broke out of Scotland, but it had a wit and bite that was unsurpassed.
Take it's approach to sectarianism, mostly seen in the football games of Rangers v Celtic. The following sketch, in terms of Scotland, is the equal of the Carlin's Seven Dirty Words, as Fulton (playing the manager of Rangers), is introduced to a new signing
Then there was Supercop, a traffic policeman who was far from super, but had a trademark way of loosing his goggles Which is enough to have any Scotch and Wry fan giggling and waiting for "Alright, Stirling,oot the car", before a noted guest star would emerge for some fun - Here's Mark McManus
, famous for playing a Glaswegian detective, Taggart, being Taggart, as Supercop gets into all sorts of problems.
And he was never averse to a quickie sketch or two (headache
, memory loss
, learner driver
But probably the biggest contribution to Scottish culture from Fulton was "Last Call". Many have forgotten that this was a direct lampooning of "Late Call", a short show late at night where religious representative could talk directly to the audience before the nightly close down. Fulton would take to an almost identical sketch, and perform some of the greatest monologues in Scottish comedy history, and his greatest creation... The Reverend I. M. Jolly, the cheeriest man in the world (TV debut, 1978
) and his trademark "Hullo, again". Here he is in action in 1979
, re-telling of Joseph from the Old Testament (Last Call, 1995
Jolly was not the only Man of the Church to be shown, Rev W. E. Free took to the airwaves in 1979
(and yes, a comic riposte to the Wee Free Church) - and then there was the master-class in "how to act every stage of being drunk in six minutes" as Rev David Goodchild made his only appearance at Last Call
, where his water was substituted for gin, and Fulton performs arguably his finest comic moments (at least for me).
It was "Last Call" that continued beyond Scotch and Wry, before Fulton called time in this final broadcast of 1999, to the point of Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond taking to the airwaves
for a charity telethon in the "Last Call" format, in the chair, and everyone got the joke straight away.
Scotch and Wry, a Scottish institution that is irreplaceable. While many shows have stepped into that time slot, none have the humour, the spirit, or able to reach to everyone in Scotland no matter their age, class, or taste.
For the non McMeFi's, meet one of the comedy greats as 2011 closes.
I miss Rikki Fulton.