In a distinguished career on stage and television Jake D’Arcy was best known for his role as Pete the Jakey in BBC Scotland’s cult sitcom Still Game and for the enthusiastic PE teacher in the film Gregory’s Girl.
He also co-starred in a string of notable Scottish television dramas including Rab C Nesbitt, Tutti Frutti and Taggart. D’Arcy co-starred as Robbie in A Sense of Freedom, the 1979 film about the Glasgow gangster-turned-sculptor Jimmy Boyle, and was most recently seen in the movie What We Did On Our Holiday, starring David Tennant
Still Game was first seen in 2002 – centred around a fictional area of Glasgow named Craiglang. The show was created by and stars Ford Kiernan and Greg Hemphill.
D’Arcy played Pete McCormack (always known as Pete the Jakey), a familiar and loveably notorious rogue around Craiglan. D’Arcy brought attractive qualities to the down-at-heel tramp with his subtle, sympathetic characterisation.
Pete had an ongoing drink problem and his dubious past is often referred to in the scripts. D’Arcy delighted in bringing a certain mystery to his past and in one episode grandly maintained that he was the father of a property developer.
In a classic episode Pete claimed to be the inventor of the famous Craiglang delicacy: the Beefy Bake. Pete tells his two pensioner friends that he first made the Beefy Bake in 1979 with shoulder steak and a secret family gravy – long before it hit the streets of Glasgow.
They land up in court and in a hilarious scene D’Arcy’s Pete settles out of court for a copious supply of whisky. Pete, who had signed the pledge for a month, was last seen in court collapsing in a drunken stupor in the hands of his friends.
The director of Still Game, Michael Hines, had worked with D’Arcy since 2000 on the programme. He told The Scotsman yesterday: “Working with Jake on Still Game was a real joy. He was not only professional and an excellent actor but was also very funny. He had a way of making people laugh. It brightened up our day having him on set, as he could be cheeky and witty and whilst he took a lot of ribbing for being Pete the Jakey, he gave as good as he got. He will be very sadly missed and his character’s departure from Craiglang leaves a big hole to fill.”
D’Arcy appeared in two prestigious productions at the Edinburgh Festival. In 1989 he played Hugh Auld in the Tron Theatre’s production of Clyde Nouveau directed by Michael Boyd. Ian Heggie’s play “projected the true spirit of Glasgow”, according to Allen Wright in The Scotsman and drew comparisons between the property developers in the city and other shady operators. Wright wrote: “There was strength in the playing of Jake D’Arcy.”
D’Arcy returned to the Festival for a memorable revival of the classic Thrie Estates in 1991 in the Assembly Hall. Because of a late cancellation of another play the Festival director, Frank Dunlop, had to rush in a revival of Tom Fleming’s production. He cast D’Arcy as Placebo along with a host of renowned Scottish actors including Edith Macarthur, Juliet Cadzow and David Rintoul.
D’Arcy’s television career started in 1970 in Dr Finlay’s Casebook and was followed by significant appearances in such popular series as Sutherland’s Law, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Tutti Frutti (as Fud O’Donnell), Lovejoy, Hamish Macbeth, Rab C Nesbitt (as Hugh Hosie) and in four episodes of Taggart.
In 1981 D’Arcy was seen in Gregory’s Girl playing the much put-upon master, Phil Menzies, in charge of the football team. Early on in the film Menzies is confronted at a trial for the team’s new centre forward by a young girl – Dee Hepburn. “This is a trial. For football. For boys,” D’Arcy growls. “Anyway we don’t have a spare ball.”
The film is now considered a classic and D’Arcy’s light comic touches in the staff room, where he was always being teased about his apology for a moustache – usually by the future Taggart colleague, Alex Norton: “You look almost 15,” Norton mocks him scathingly. The boys teased their PE teacher too but the banter balanced out John Gordon Sinclair’s mounting and constant ardour for Hepburn.
In What We Did on Our Holiday D’Arcy played Smokey in a film about a psychiatrist’s search for the secret of happiness. He was joined in the cast by, apart from Tennant, Billy Connolly, Rosamund Pike and Annette Crosbie.
D’Arcy was a dedicated actor who enjoyed his profession and was always keen to tackle the next project. Colleagues recall that it was always a pleasure to work with him.
It has not been possible to ascertain his date of birth or personal details.