Andy Gray: Scottish actor’s most memorable roles as he dies aged 61 - from River City to City Lights
Scottish acting legend Andy Gray has died at the age of 61 after contracting coronavirus.
Tributes have poured in for the star of stage and screen since the tragic news was announced on Monday 18 January.
The Perth-born actor and comedian, whose partner is actor Tamara Kennedy, had appeared in Scottish TV and stage shows for more than 40 years.
Gray was diagnosed with a rare type of blood cancer in 2018 - but he made a career comeback at the King’s Theatre pantomime in Edinburgh the year after.
It is understood that the actor died at the weekend, after being diagnosed with Covid-19.
Here’s everything you need to know about Andy Gray’s most memorable acting roles - from River City to the panto.
What were Andy Gray’s most memorable roles?
Andy Gray, who studied at Queen Margaret University, began his impressive acting career at Perth Theatre in the late 1970s.
His breakthrough role was in the BBC Radio Scotland sketch show Naked Radio, which moved to TV as Naked Television.
But it was in the late 1980s that he shot to mainstream fame when starring in the BBC Scotland comedy show City Lights.
In the sitcom, Andy Gray played Chancer, the sidekick and best friend of Willie Melvin, played by Gerard Kelly.
Reruns of the show, which also featured Dave Anderson, Iain McColl and Elaine C Smith, were recently broadcast again on BBC Scotland.
Yet many people will know of Gray from his role as Pete Galloway in the BBC soap River City - one of Shieldinch’s most popular characters.
He joined the cast in 2016 with an already successful stage, TV and film career behind him.
Unfortunately, he was forced to leave the show in August 2018 due to his cancer diagnosis.
Gray’s River City co-star Gayle Telfer Stevens, who played his on-screen wife, said he was a "national treasure".
She added: "Not only was he an exceptional actor and entertainer who brought so much joy to so many people, he was an extraordinary man.
"When you were in his presence you could feel it was of greatness. The most kind, clever, funny beyond measure, beautiful man."
Gray, an accomplished comedian, was also one of the main stars of the Christmas pantomime at the King’s Theatre in Edinburgh for most of the last 20 years.
Alongside his co-stars Allan Stewart, who played the Fame, and Grant Stott, cast as the show’s baddie, he was one of the panto characters which made the annual show so popular with its audiences.
The threesome were renowned for their explosive on-stage chemistry and comedic banter.
After taking a break from the panto during his illness, Gray made an emotional single appearance at the King’s in 2019.
He was due to return for the 2020-21 show, but it was cancelled in the wake of the pandemic.
Gray was also a regular at the Edinburgh Fringe as part of a double act with panto co-star Grant Stott.
Who has paid tribute to Andy Gray?
Many famous faces have expressed their sadness over the passing of the Scottish acting legend.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon wrote on Twitter: “So sad to hear this. Andy was a legend of the Scottish acting community, from City Lights, to panto, River City and so much more besides. He was also a funny and really lovely guy. He will be sorely missed by many. My condolences are with his family and friends.”
Gray’s panto co-stars and long-time friends Allan Stewart and Grant Stott made long and emotional tributes to the acor.
Stewart said: “Today a light went out in my life. My pal and panto partner Andy Gray has left the building. We have been working together for over 20 years and I will remember him for all the laughs we’ve had, on and off the stage. He was loved by so many people and I will miss him with all my heart.”
Stott said: “Today I, like so many others, am coming to terms with the loss of my dear friend, partner, Panto brother, Andy Gray. He was a huge part of every aspect of my life; personal, professional and family – he leaves a massive void that can never be filled.”
Steve Carson, director of BBC Scotland, also paid tribute to the River City star.
He said: "We are deeply saddened by the news that one of Scotland's much loved comedy actors and close friend to many at BBC Scotland, Andy Gray, has passed away.
"On screen and in person he could always make you laugh and was one of the kindest people to have around on any production. Our thoughts are with his family at this difficult time."
Martin McCardie, River City’s executive producer, said: “Everyone at River City, all cast and crew are devastated to hear the extremely sad news that Andy Gray passed away this morning.
"His loss will be felt throughout our production and he will never be forgotten by all who knew him, but that is nothing compared to the loss that his family and partner are feeling now, all our thoughts and sympathies are with them.”
And River City actor Tom Urie took to Twitter to express his sorrow at the news: “I never, ever heard anyone say a bad word about Andy Gray. A true gentleman and a huge loss to Scotland. Love to his family and pals x”
Fellow Scots actor, Outlander star Sam Heughan, wrote: “So sad to hear about this. What a great actor, superb man. Watched him on stage many a time.”