Stage and screen entertainer Johnny Beattie dies aged 93

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Media captionScottish comedy great Johnny Beattie dies aged 93

Scottish actor and comedian Johnny Beattie has died at the age of 93.

The entertainer is said to have passed away peacefully after a short spell at St Margaret's Hospice near Glasgow.

His showbusiness career spanned TV and film roles, variety theatre, stand-up, and pantomime.

Many considered him to be a giant of Scotland's comedy scene, appearing in Scotch and Wry and Rab C Nesbitt. His most recent role was as Malcolm Hamilton on BBC soap River City.

'Escape from the shipyards'

Beattie honed his entertainment skills while holding down a job in Govan's Fairfield shipyard.

In 2012 - while celebrating 60 years in the industry - the Glaswegian told BBC Scotland: "They were tough places. None of the health and safety you'd get today," he recalls.

"They were dangerous and that was an escape route."

Beattie "escaped" in the 1950s, touring with a theatre company in a bit part and, before long, writing and starring in the show.

Image copyright BBC Scotland/Limelight Productions
Image caption A young Johnny Beattie photographed backstage in his dressing room in a 1950s variety theatre show.
Image copyright BBC Scotland/Limelight Productions
Image caption Johnny Beattie pictured in the early 1960s

The 1960s saw the broadcast of Johnny Beattie's Saturday Night Show which ran until 1970.

His screen roles have included the movie The Big Man with Billy Connolly and Liam Neeson, as well as Taggart, Rab C Nesbitt and Scotch and Wry.

His other TV roles saw him feature on quiz shows, such as Now You See It, and family entertainment like Welcome to The Ceilidh.

Image copyright Alan Peebles
Image caption Johnny Beattie with River City co-stars on his last day of filming.

He appeared in River City as Shieldinch's "wise old owl", Malcolm Hamilton, from when the soap first aired in 2002 until he retired in 2015.

Image copyright PA Media
Image caption The entertainer received his MBE from Prince Charles

In 2007, Beattie was appointed an MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours list.

The father-of-four was given the accolade for his lifelong services to entertainment and charity.

'A national treasure'

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was among those who took to social media to pay tribute to Beattie.

She wrote on Twitter that the "hugely talented performer" was a "national treasure".

Other actors also reflected about working with him.

Leah MacRae - who also appeared on River City - said working with him was "a career highlight", and praised his exceptional talent.

Fellow River City actor Gary Lamont said he was a "legend and true star".

Scot Squad's Officer Karen, Karen Bartke, said he was a "genuine giant" and "a really lovely man".

Donalda MacKinnon, director of BBC Scotland, said: "We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of comedy and acting legend Johnny Beattie.

"He featured in many much loved programmes on the BBC and most recently delighted audiences for 13 years as the kind-hearted and loveable family man Malcolm Hamilton in River City.

"Our thoughts are now with Johnny's own family at this difficult time.

"Johnny Beattie dedicated his life to the entertainment of others and we thank him for the joy and laughter he brought to audiences across his long and varied career."

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