The Scottish entertainment world has been left stunned by the death of the 61-year-old star of City Lights, Naked Video and River City.
The Perth-based actor, who was one of the stars of the Christmas panto at the King's Theatre in Edinburgh each year was also a huge draw at the Fringe thanks to his theatre double act with panto co-star Grant Stott.
Gray, who started his acting career at Perth Theatre in the late 1970s, shot to fame in the 1980s with the BBC Scotland sitcom City Lights, playing Chancer, the sidekick of Willie Melvin, who was played by Gerard Kelly.
Reruns of the show, which also featured Dave Anderson, Iain McColl, Elaine C Smith and Jonathan Watson, were only recently broadcast by BBC Scotland again.
Gray, who joined the cast of River City in 2016, had previously battled blood cancer after being diagnosed in 2018, but made a comeback in the King’s panto the following year. More recently he had fought against a Covid positive diagnosis.
After last year’s King’s panto was cancelled, Gray was due to appear with King's co-star Allan Stewart in a show in Milton Keynes, which was also called off due to tightened restrictions in the area.
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.
"I count myself lucky that I was able to work and learn from him for more than 20 years and his support, generosity and encouragement to me has been an ever-present in all of that time.
"I will miss him terribly and, as heartbroken as I am, I know for a fact Andy would want us all to “remember the laughs” of which there were many, both on and off stage - and usually at my expense.”
Karen Koren, artistic director and founder of Gilded Balloon, the venue which had put on Gray and Stott’s Fringe shows in recent years, said: “We’re heartbroken at the news that our dear friend Andy Gray has passed away.
"Andy was incredibly popular and beloved and rightly so, as he was the warmest, funniest and the most hugely talented human being you could ever meet.
“As long as I can remember, Andy has been entertaining. He possessed a rare gift of instinctively knowing how to deliver comedy and always had a genuine, special relationship with his audiences.
"Gilded Balloon had the honour and privilege of producing Andy and Grant Stott’s Fringe shows over the last eight years, and it’s fair to say there was never a dull moment when they were around. The memories shared will be cherished forever.
“Andy adored performing and was incomplete without it, and today Scotland feels incomplete having lost one of its most loved and talented performers. He will be sorely missed.”
Fiona Gibson, chief executive of Capital Theatres, which runs the King’s, said: “It is with enormous sadness that we have heard of the passing of our dear colleague and panto star, Andy Gray. We are still reeling from the news and are all absolutely devastated.
"We will all remember Andy with love, a smile and affection for the many years of fun, friendship and brightness he brought to all our lives and the entertainment he gave to so many generations of panto-goers during his time at the King’s."
"The thoughts of everyone at Capital Theatres are with Andy’s family at this very sad time. Rest in peace, Andy.”
BBC Scotland director Steve Carson said: “We’re deeply saddened by the news that one of Scotland’s much loved comedy actors and close friend to many at BBC Scotland has passed away.
"Among many roles for the BBC, he will always be lovingly remembered as audience favourites, the iconic ‘Chancer’ in City Lights and the silver tongued entertainer Pete Galloway in River City. 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.
"When Andy joined River City in 2016 he had an extremely successful stage, TV and film career behind him, but the character of Pete Galloway turned out to be one of the most popular characters ever to pass through Shieldinch.
"His infectious enthusiasm for his work had an influence on all those who worked with him, he became a mainstay of the production, his trials and tribulations with the love of his life Caitlin McLean, became some of the best material ever to be broadcast by the show.
"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.”
River City actor Gayle Telfer Stevens, who played Caitlin McLean, who was married on-screen to Andy’s character, said: “Andy was, and will remain, a national treasure. 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. One of the finest our country has ever had the pleasure to experience and we were so lucky to have had the time we did with you.
"Andy – you will be achingly missed. Your laugh will echo in Scotland’s heart and you will never be forgotten. Love you forever.”
River City actor Tom Urie posted on Twitter: “I never, ever heard anyone say a bad word about Andy Gray. A true gentlemen and a huge loss to Scotland. Love to his family and pals x”
Actor Tam Dean Burn said: “Devastated we’ve lost Andy Gray. A lovely man & comedy genius. At drama school Andy had us in stitches for hours while he improvised comedy routines. Was to paint my left pinky nail purple when I finished filming today as his family have been doing to show support. I still will.”
Outlander star Sam Heughan told his Twitter followers: “So sad to hear about this. What a great actor, superb man. Watched him on stage many a time.”
Playwright David Greig, artistic director at the Royal Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh, said: “So very sad to hear of the death of Andy Gray, one of Scotland's greatest stage comedians, a gloriously gifted improviser and superb actor with a rare gift for connecting to an audience.
"Edinburgh loved him. Andy's gift was timing. Alas, he's been taken from us far too soon.”