Remembering the extraordinary life of Johnny Beattie

Funeral will be held on Friday for the legendary Scottish entertainer.

Johnny Beattie was a master of many trades in showbusiness.
Johnny Beattie was a master of many trades in showbusiness.

On the day Johnny Beattie died there was an outpouring of deeply affectionate tributes from a whole host of celebrities who straddled some of the decades in which this much-loved and incredibly versatile performer plied his trade.

I say ‘some’ of the decades in which he performed…

Such was Johnny’s longevity that it would have been impossible to amass tributes from living performers who were with him at the very beginning of his career. The fact is he outlasted most of the big names.

He had professional stamina, did the man from Govan, combined with a novice’s enthusiasm for every job.


What, however, unites all of the tributes is the genuine warmth with which they were delivered.

Showbusiness manages to house egos, sometimes gargantuan ones. The poignancy of the appreciations made clear that Johnny Beattie was a man with no side, who had time for everyone and who looked on every job as one worth doing to the very best of his ability.

I, for one, think his life worthy of celebration and his memory ripe for cherishing. His 63-year career is a timeline which mirrors the huge changes not only in Scottish entertainment but in broader society.

He did his national service. He worked in Fairfields shipyard. He played the last show at the Glasgow Empire. He was a staple in the pre television age of variety. He was a straight actor, a stand-up comedian, a panto dame and a TV gameshow host.


Johnny Beattie might be remembered by young people today as the old guy from River City. Their parents might remember him from Taggart or Rab C Nesbitt or the gameshow he hosted for STV, Now You See It.

Johnny Beattie hosted STV gameshow Now You See It.

Their grandparents might well remember him from the golden era of variety when the belly laughter in theatres provided a release from the drudge of industrial living.

Johnny was the unbroken chain in all of this, and he showcased a range of talents few could match. He also combined this with an encyclopaedic knowledge of acts and routines through the decades and he could spontaneously recite whole sketches from performers past and present.  

Beattie was not only a master of his craft but a high chronicler of what made a country laugh.

The term ‘all-round entertainer’ is sometimes used to denote that the person never quite made it in any genre. The fact is that Beattie was indeed an all-rounder who could have made it in any one of the disciplines in which he starred. It was the diversity of his talents that ensured he was around for a long, long time.

Given his eminence, any self-belief that he had earned a sense of entitlement in the respect stakes would have been forgivable. But those who worked with him attest to his groundedness, perhaps learned from his Govan upbringing. His dad was a road sweeper and his mother a factory worker. Not even being the Dux at St Gerard’s Secondary School appears to have gone to his head.

His gentlemanly demeanour and instinctive courtesy always struck me as being a common feature in people of his generation. In village Scotland, I have met people who knew Johnny well and all had only kind things to say about him.


I only ever met him twice and I was impressed that the man who was a big star was even bigger in the stakes of being a humble man.

Brian Beacom’s lovely obituary in The Herald recounts a conversation when the journalist asked Beattie if he had a darker, edgier personality whether he would have been a more successful comedian. ‘Perhaps’ was the reply, but Johnny doubted he would have lasted as long.

Entertainers come and go but that was never the case with Johnny Beattie. He went on and on and on. 

The secret of his success was not much of a secret.

It was the magic of his talent and for that we should all be grateful for the unadulterated joy he gave so many and for so long.

I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! to be filmed in UK

The hit TV show could be travelling north of the border with many Scottish castles fitting the bill.

ITV News
I'm A Celeb: To be filmed in the UK.

Hit reality TV show I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! is to be filmed in the UK for the first time.

Rather than the usual trip to an Australian jungle, a group of celebrities will instead he staying in the ruined castle in the British countryside for what will be the show’s 20th series.

The location has not yet been revealed, however it could potentially be north of the border with several Scottish castles fitting the bill.

Geordie duo Ant and Dec will return to host the series which will be broadcast live every night on STV. 


As on the regular series, viewers will see the celebrities undertake gruelling trials and fun-filled challenges to win food and treats in the lead up to one of them being crowned, for the first time ever, King or Queen of the Castle.

The change was made due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic that made it unfeasible for it to be shot in Australia.

Kevin Lygo, ITV’s director of television said: “We announced last week that we were doing all we could to make the series and I’m thrilled that we can bring the show to viewers albeit not in the jungle. “

Richard Cowles, Director of Entertainment at ITV Studios said: “We pulled out all the stops to try and make the series happen in Australia.  Unfortunately, due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and despite us looking at many different contingencies, it became apparent that it just wasn’t possible for us to travel and make the show there.  


“Our celebrities will probably have to swap shorts for thermals but they can still look forward to a basic diet of rice and beans and plenty of thrills and surprises along the way”.

Tom Walker joins Ant and Dec to star in STV charity festival

An array of stars have joined forces with STV Children's Appeal for a virtual festival on Thursday night.

The coronavirus pandemic may have brought the curtain down on festival season, but tonight STV will be staging its very own virtual festival in aid of the STV Children’s Appeal.

Songs for Scotland: Summer Festival will feature a series of exclusive performances and interviews with some of the music industry’s biggest names, including Tom Walker, Annie Lennox and Courtney Act, while also shining a light on homegrown stars such as Ransom FA, Be Charlotte and Luke La Volpe.

Hosted by STV reporter Polly Bartlett along with Ant and Dec, Love Island winner Paige Turley and Ross King, the show will also take a look at some of the projects and charities the STV Children’s Appeal has been helping during the pandemic.

Ahead of his performance at the festival, Tom Walker discussed his shock at child poverty rates in Scotland, while also stressing the importance of safeguarding the UK’s small music venues as they struggle to recover from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.


The Leave a Light On hitmaker said: “Me and the band haven’t done a gig since February, and we had between 35 and 40 festivals booked in this year all around the world.

Love Island winner and singer Paige Turley will lend her voice to the Appeal.

“Obviously that getting cancelled and Glastonbury getting cancelled has been really tough for musicians, especially as they were the last to get sorted out.“

[The UK] and America are right at the top of the world’s music industry, so it’s definitely worth protecting. I think it brings in £4.3bn a year for the UK economy – that’s a nuts amount of money.

‘How can one in four of Scotland’s children be in poverty? It’s just not right’

Tom Walker, musician

“It’s in the Government’s interest, as far as I’m concerned, to preserve it.”


The North Lanarkshire-born star added: “I was playing at [King] Tut’s to 60 people. If somewhere like that closes down… that was where Oasis were discovered and all these amazing bands have come through – Biffy Clyro played there, Stereophonics – we need those places.

RuPaul’s Drag Race star Courtney Act will also perform.

“They are the tastemakers at the beginning of people’s careers. You don’t just go from sitting in your bedroom playing a guitar to playing at the [SSE] Hydro. There needs to be stepping stones and places to build up for musicians and artists, so it’s really important.” 

On why he’s giving his time to headline Songs for Scotland in aid of the STV Children’s Appeal, Tom adds: “How can one in four of Scotland’s children be in poverty? It’s just not right – something’s got to be done about that. If it’s one in four now, where are we going to be at the end of this pandemic, when people are losing jobs?

“It’s an important issue and people need to be made aware of it.”

Songs for Scotland: Summer Festival will premiere on the STV Player and on the STV Children’s Appeal Facebook page at 7.30pm on Thursday, August 6th.

The Human League announce Glasgow show as part of UK tour

The British new wave band will celebrate 40 years since the release of one of their classic albums DARE.

Tour: The Human League to play Glasgow.

The Human League will celebrate 40 years since the release of one of their classic albums by playing a UK-wide tour.

The British new wave band dominated the charts in the 80s, with influential album DARE which was released on October 1981.

To celebrate the milestone, the band will perform across the UK, including Glasgow, in 2021.

The Sheffield band was founded by Philip Oakey who recruited vocalists Joanne Catherall and Susan Ann Sulley, who have remained with the group to this day.


Hit singles have included Don’t You Want Me, Love Action, The Sound Of The Crowd, Open Your Hear and ’The Things That Dreams Are Made Of.

The Human League’s ‘Dare 40 Tour’ also features the Thompson Twins’ Tom Bailey and Scottish band Altered Images on the bill. 

The band will play Glasgow’s SSE Hydro on December 9 2021 and tickets are available now.

Chance to win a meet-and-greet with singer Lewis Capaldi

The singer has donated items to the Scottish Refugee Council's fundraising campaign.

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Superstar: Someone You Loved singer Lewis Capaldi.

Chart-topper Lewis Capaldi is offering a meet-and-greet with fans to raise money for refugees.

The Someone You Loved singer has donated items to the Scottish Refugee Council’s fundraising campaign.

Fans will be able to bid for the star’s leopard-print jacket and backstage passes for his next UK tour, including a meet-and-greet opportunity.

Capaldi said: “I’m really happy to be able to support Scottish Refugee Council and all the work they do helping refugees rebuild their lives in Scotland.


“We are hoping the items attract plenty of attention and raise lots of money.”

The fundraising auction goes live at 11am on Friday.

To bid, click here.

Emeli Sande reveals racial abuse she suffered as a child

The singer said she was called a 'monkey' by boys in her school playground when she was just five.

Superstar: Read All About It singer Emeli Sande.

Emeli Sande has spoken of her own experience of racism, saying it “seeps into the consciousness of its victims”.

The singer told Radio Times magazine that she was called a “monkey” by two boys in her primary school playground when she was just five-years-old.

The 33-year-old, who grew up in Aberdeenshire, said: “I was upset and didn’t know what to do because, if you’re already different from everybody else, you don’t want to cause a bigger problem. 

“But my friend told the headteacher, who then told my parents.”


Sande’s parents told her afterwards: “Sadly, this is how the world works.”

The performer said that was the beginning of her version of “the talk”, explaining: “The conversation many black and mixed-race parents – my father is black, my mother white – are obliged to have with their children.”

The Read All About It star said she hoped there had “been some kind of awakening and understanding of what black people may have been suffering silently” because of the Black Lives Matter protests.

She said: “Racism is so pernicious that it seeps into the consciousness of its victims.


“It breaks my heart when you see brown children sit in front of a brown doll and a white doll, and when asked which doll is bad they go for the brown doll.

“This is something that is being taught to them everywhere they look in society – how else could they have that kind of low self-esteem and self-image?”

She added: “You might argue that we need a version of ‘the talk’ for all children, white and black. 

“Perhaps the better way is just for everybody to learn more about each other. That’s what I hope Black Lives Matter has achieved.”

Mourners pay tribute to Johnny Beattie as funeral held

The Govan-born performer, who starred in Taggart, Rab C Nesbitt and River City, died earlier this month at the age of 93.

By Jenness Mitchell & Sharon Frew

Family, friends and fans have paid their final respects to actor and comedian Johnny Beattie.

The Govan-born performer, who starred in Taggart, Rab C Nesbitt and River City, died earlier this month aged 93.

Performer: Beattie starred in Taggart, Rab C. Nesbitt and River City.

His funeral took place on Friday morning at St Peter’s Catholic Church in Partick, Glasgow.


Speaking outside the church, fellow comedian Andy Cameron told STV News that Beattie was an “icon”.

Telling how Beattie “brought the house down” with The Wedding of Jock MacKay during a set in New York, Cameron said: “That’s the kind of guy he was. Wherever he was, he was funny. Wherever he was, he was warm.”

Friends: Andy Cameron paid tribute to Beattie’s charity work.

The pair worked in pantomime together. Every year they would send each other a Christmas card, with Cameron signing it ‘from yer boy’ and Beattie ‘from yer mammy’.

Paying tribute to Beattie’s charity work, Cameron added: “He was a great guy, a lovely, lovely man. A great comic.”


The funeral Mass itself was limited to 50 people due to the Covid-19 restrictions.

At the end of the service, members of the public gathered outside and applauded as the coffin was piped out of the church.

Mourners included staff from St Margaret of Scotland Hospice in West Dunbartonshire, where Beattie passed away peacefully.

Beattie’s cortege then travelled through the city towards Glasgow Crematorium in Maryhill, pausing briefly outside The University Cafe on Byres Road.

It was at that very cafe the entertainer got his big break when he was asked to join an amateur dramatic society show.

In Beattie’s words, “that was the start of it”.

Funeral: The service took place on Friday morning.

A veteran of stage and screen, Beattie starred in his own sketch show in the 1960s before later hosting STV’s Now You See It in the 1980s.


Beattie is perhaps most recently remembered as Malcolm Hamilton in River City. He was in the role for 13 years before retiring in 2015.

He had four children; Maureen, who starred in Casualty, Louise, Paul and Mark.

He had been married to wife Kitty for more than 30 years before they separated. She died in the early 1990s.

In 2007, he was appointed an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.

The Pavilion Theatre in Glasgow described him as “a great friend” and “one of the few last remaining performers from magical days of variety theatre”.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon also paid tribute, describing him as a “national treasure”.

River City co-star Frank Gallagher, who plays gangster Lenny Murdoch, told STV News that Beattie was a “beautiful man” and a “joy” to know.

He said: “He had time for everybody.

“He never turned his back on anybody that I ever seen, and that’s how going home sometimes we were like half-an-hour behind the times because Johnny had to say goodbye to everybody.

“That’s the way people loved him.

“He loved entertaining people. He loved making them laugh. And he made me laugh, many, many times I have to say.”

Scots composer Anna Meredith shortlisted for Mercury Prize

Meredith, who grew up in South Queensferry, has been nominated for her second studio album FIBS.

Anna Meredith Facebook
Mercury Prize: Anna Meredith's FIBS has been shortlisted for the award.

Scottish composer Anna Meredith has been shortlisted for the prestigious Mercury Prize alongside the likes of Stormzy, Dua Lipa and Laura Marling.

Meredith, who was born in London but grew up in South Queensferry in West Lothian, has been nominated for her second studio album FIBS.

Revealing the shortlist on Thursday, organisers said Meredith’s “sweeping electronic patterns and glacial vocals form a series of glorious sonic landscapes”.

The performer, who is also known for her classical work, said: “It means a huge deal for me to be shortlisted for the Hyundai Mercury Prize. 


“It’s not something I really expected, and in a year that’s been personally, and I guess obviously globally, so difficult, and so much feels unknown and really scary.

“And just to have something this positive, and for something that I have believed in so much and poured so much of myself into, is an amazing confidence boost for me and for this album, so I am absolutely, totally thrilled.”

The 12-strong shortlist also features Charli XCX and Michael Kiwanuka, who has picked up his third Mercury Prize nomination but so far is yet to win the award.

The shortlist for the award, which recognises the best British or Irish album of the year, was narrowed down by 12 judges including Anna Calvi, Annie Mac, Supergrass frontman Gaz Coombes, Jamie Cullum, Jorja Smith and’s editorial director Tshepo Mokoena.


A statement from the judges said: “In these difficult and uncertain times the Hyundai Mercury Prize is proud to celebrate the remarkable power of music to inspire and exhilarate.

“The albums on the 2020 shortlist showcase a great diversity of sounds, styles, ambitions and experience.

“What these albums share is an irresistible urgency, a belief that their music matters more than ever.”

Last year’s Mercury Prize was won by rapper Dave for his album Psychodrama, fending off competition from nominees including Slowthai, The 1975, Little Simz and Foals.

Organisers say it is likely a live awards show will not happen in September as planned, but the winner will be announced on September 24.

Mercury Prize shortlist

  • Anna Meredith – FIBS
  • Charli XCX – How I’m Feeling Now
  • Dua Lipa – Future Nostalgia
  • Georgia – Seeking Thrills
  • Kano – Hoodies All Summer
  • Lanterns On the Lake – Spook The Herd
  • Laura Marling – Song For Our Daughter
  • Michael Kiwanuka – Kiwanuka
  • Moses Boyd – Dark Matter
  • Porridge Radio – Every Bad
  • Sports Team – Deep Down Happy
  • Stormzy – Heavy Is The Head

Tom Jones among stars confirmed for rescheduled festival

Michael Kiwanuka, Lionel Richie and Simple Minds also set to perform at Edinburgh Summer Sessions in 2021.

Pop icon: Tom Jones to return after opening festival in 2018.

Organisers of Edinburgh Summer Sessions have announced rescheduled dates for the festival.

Tom Jones, Michael Kiwanuka, Lionel Richie and Simple Minds will perform at Princes Street Gardens in August 2021.

The third edition of the event has been moved as restrictions remain on mass gatherings in Scotland.

Pop icon Jones is set to return to the festival after opening its inaugural year in 2018, while 2021 is a debut at the event for the likes of Kiwanuka, Richie and Scottish rock band Travis.


The 2021 dates are as follows:

  • Tom Jones – August 8 and 10
  • Michael Kiwanuka – August 9
  • Lionel Richie – August 11
  • Travis – August 13
  • Simple Minds – August 15

Original tickets remain valid for the new dates, where refunds have not already been issued.

Grease and Mary Poppins headline drive-in movies at airport

Classic movies such as The Princess Bride, Clueless and Dirty Dancing will also be screened at the event.

Drive in: Grease will be screened at the eevnt.

A drive-in movie event at Edinburgh Airport has revealed which films will be screened.

Grease, Mary Poppins Returns and Dirty Dancing will all feature in the showcase next month.

Organised by Edinburgh International Film Festival and Unique Events, the drive-in will run from August 27 to 30, with another event expected to take place from September 24 to 27.

Up to 250 cars will be able to park at Edinburgh Airport in front of classic movies on a 100 sq m LED screen.


The line-up for Thursday, August 27 features Sunshine on Leith and Get Out, with Grease, Airplane! and Con Air the following day.

Saturday will see Mary Poppins Returns, Clueless, William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet and Alien played on the big screen.

Rounding off the weekend will be family favourites Up and The Princess Bride, as well as La La Land and Dirty Dancing.

Organisers of the Drive-in Movies said: “We are delighted to be able to share with our audiences the first batch of titles to be screened as part of Drive-in Movies next month. 


“With a broad selection of timeless classics, family favourites and blockbusters, it truly offers something for everyone. 

“We’re already working behind-the-scenes on the programme for the future events, but in the meantime book yourself a wild ride and we’ll see you at Edinburgh Airport for some cinema magic.”

Organisers hope to bring the drive-in event to the airport every month until January 2021.

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