Series focusing on contemporary Scottish art. This edition profiles Andy Stewart, one of Scotland's most successful entertainers and best-loved icons.
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Mr Andy Stewart! APPLAUSE
# When the pipes are ringing and the kilts are swinging
# And your heart is singing as you gaily march along
# You hear the story that is brave and roary
# In the tunes of glory of an old Scots song
# If you're standing near them and you ever hear them... #
Andy Stewart is arguably Scotland's greatest ever entertainer.
He was the...biggest thing... in Scottish music after Harry Lauder.
He just was a complete Scottish minstrel.
Entertainer in Scotland? Numero uno.
# ..In the tunes of glory! #
Andy Stewart was born in Glasgow in 1933
and moved to Arbroath aged 12.
Well, we were a very close family.
You must remember that I was seven when the war began,
and it was like living in a bubble, four of us together.
We were very close, a very, very close family.
My father was a...a musician
and, er...he was a bit of a show-off as well.
We all had a bit of the histrionic touch.
We had no inhibitions right from a very early age.
He enjoyed singing and performing, and my father encouraged him.
Even at school,
Andy showed that he had a talent for entertaining and mimicry.
I was only belted three times at school,
and twice it was for doing impressions.
I can remember being caught
doing an impression of our mathematics teacher.
And he it was whom I heard doing the classic,
"Now, boys, this is a very difficult proposition,
"watch the board while I run through it."
Andy's parents supported his ambition to perform,
and in 1951, he went to the Glasgow College of Dramatic Art,
where he met a fellow student called John Cairney.
He was a wee cheeky fellow from Arbroath,
and I was a skinny element from Parkhead,
but funnily enough we got on well right from the start.
We met at drama college,
and it was one very late night we were going home,
and he was standing at one side of the street,
and I was standing at the other,
and that was the first time ever I heard Andy sing,
and he sang The Bonnie Lass Of Ballochmyle.
I think she was my girlfriend first, Sheila, and he stole her from me.
Andy married Sheila in 1955
after they had both graduated from drama college.
Despite being trained as a serious actor, Andy fell into the role
of an entertainer and mimic on stage and radio.
LOUIS ARMSTRONG SINGS
# Be-bop-a-lula, she's my granny
# Be-bop-a-lula She's my mammy's mammy... #
-(AS BRUCE FORSYTH)
-Good evening and welcome to Sunday Night At The London Palladium.
He was essentially an actor and he acted the part of a comedian.
While working on a radio show at BBC Scotland,
Andy had a chance meeting that would change his career for ever.
I was booked for The White Heather Club in the gents' toilet here.
The gentleman who was producing, Iain McFadyen,
was producing me in radio,
and he said, "I'm starting this show called The White Heather Club,
"and I'm afraid there's no place in it for you."
I was an impressionist at that time.
He said to me, "I know you do comedy voices and all the rest of it -
"what we're looking for is somebody who can do bothy ballads."
Now, I know there are all these apocryphal stories,
when you go for a part in a Western, they say, "Can you ride a horse?"
And whether you've never seen a horse in your life, you say yes!
But I, in actual fact, with a great deal of veracity,
said, "Well, I can sing some bothy ballads."
He said, "Sing one for me now."
And my goodness me, there were people in cubicles
who had forgotten what they went in there for.
And I sang a wee...perhaps unsuitable for a gents' toilet,
I sang a song called The Muckin' O' Geordie's Byre.
Whereupon we passed around the shovels and the sawdust,
and I got the job.
Good evening and welcome to the opening of The White Heather Club.
I'm quite sure, if you'd care to stay with us, you'll enjoy it too.
So come on inside and hear Ian Powrie and his band
playing The Gay Gordons.
Come on in!
We would like to pinpoint a town or district in Scotland.
I'll give you a clue.
Have you guessed? Ha-ha, Arbroath!
And we'd also like to pinpoint a personality from Arbroath,
and here he is, Andy Stewart.
# When I want tae lauchin' I think on the scene
# When a'body roun' cam' ower tae clean
# And clairted themsel's richt up tae the e'en
# At the muckin' o' Geordie's byre
# Wee Robbie the Rockie and Willie the Doo
# The auld wife herself and Teeny McCrew
# And a'body else that could labour the pleugh
# At the muckin' o' Geordie's byre... #
After only a year, the now kilted Andy took over as host
and turned The White Heather Club into a hit network show,
drawing millions of viewers.
# Come in, come in It's nice tae see you
# How's yoursel'? You're looking grand
# Tak' your ease We'll try tae please you
# Man, you're welcome Here's my hand
# In the land called Caledonia
# There are certain words you say... #
In his other TV shows of the time, Andy was able
to show off his skills as a mimic and character actor.
Three and a half hours late.
Maybe she's missed her bus.
I've never been in here afore.
It's fine, but strange to see
and no' at all the way it looks when you see it on TV.
I met Andy on The White Heather Club.
# The sweetest hours that e'er I spent
# Were spent among the lasses-o... #
That's what I was hoping you'd say.
Andy was a very introspective person as well, you know.
He was very well-read, Andy, and very erudite and he...
Because he knew I was interested in books as well, we had conversations,
but he amazed me, first of all, with his knowledge of Burns.
As sure as three times three maks nine
I see by ilka score and line
This chap will dearly like oor kin'
So leeze me on thee, Robin.
Poetry was never far from Andy's mind,
and he wrote down ideas for songs and poems on his many travels.
He was always creative.
I mean, the guy obviously had a really good brain
and he was creative all the time.
And he was just writing stuff, you know, lines for songs,
and scraps and pieces which he would obviously collate later,
collate at a later date into either a poem or a song.
In 1960, Andrew began as a recording artist for Top Rank International.
His first release of Donald Where's Your Troosers?
didn't sell that well,
but the follow-up was a very different story.
Andy Stewart actually got me chucked out a pub,
because, sadly, not everybody shares my taste in music.
I went into a pub and I saw one of these digital jukeboxes,
and joy of joys one of the artistes who was on it,
next to Chumbawamba and Labrinth or whatever,
was Scotland's very own Andy Stewart.
And I just put on his haunting ballad, A Scottish Soldier.
And, er...if only I could say
that we all just kind of gathered, arms in the pub,
and everybody just humming along to A Scottish Soldier.
Sadly, I got chased out of the place by a guy with a pool cue.
A Scottish Soldier was not just a hit in the UK.
It was number one in Canada, Australia and New Zealand
and stayed in the US top 50 for over a year,
something that today's recording artists can only dream of.
I wish I could say
that that was written somewhere in pensive solitude.
It was written in a pub in Byres Road,
and this night I sat down, and the tune of The Green Hills came to me,
and the line came to me, one can only say an inspiration, I suppose,
as I think all song-writing is.
And I wrote down, "There was a soldier, a Scottish soldier,"
and wrote two verses and sang it the next day.
# They are not the hills of home... #
Of course, we were watching the White Heather show,
and this song came on, Andy singing Scottish Soldier,
and I remember thinking, "Oh, my God, that's going to be a monster,"
-and sure enough...
-It was phenomenal.
And it took off not only in the UK but all over the world.
And what do you think's the secret of this phenomenal success,
-A Scottish Soldier?
I think if I could tell you that and you could bottle it,
we could make a fortune selling it.
I don't think you can tell what is the secret of success,
ever, in so many words.
I think it's an intangible thing.
He...was fortunate, if you like,
early on in his career to have the hit record,
but he was only fortunate because he wrote the thing.
-Don't you ever get tired of A Scottish Soldier?
-No, no. I don't.
I hear that lovely money falling all around!
It's amazing to think that only 25 years ago,
before the great Puritan revival of 1971,
certain television performers
actually appeared on the screen wearing kilts.
Andy Stewart's naked knees were featured regularly.
The one time I did Andy Stewart
was the one with the ever-lengthening kilt,
and that went down very, very well.
Arthur Blake at the piano!
And yes, it was very, very funny, and I think it was the...
# There was a soldier A Scottish soldier
# Who wandered far away and soldiered far away
# There was none bolder with good broad shoulder
# He'd fought in many a fray
# And fought and won
# He'd seen the glory He'd told the story
# Of battles glorious and deeds victorious
# But now he's sighing His heart is crying... #
Yes, that was a wicked take-off, really.
Another show breaking new ground at the time was Tonight.
Good evening. One of the big awkward questions which everybody...
The Tonight programme, for those who can remember it,
was THE magazine programme,
and it set standards, I think, which have never been surpassed.
And now, let's finish up with something a bit brighter,
Robin Hall and Jimmie Macgregor, Football Crazy, I think.
# Oh, you all know my wee brother... #
Robin and I sung on it five nights a week for about four years,
and we used to sit in the green room,
The White Heather Club would be on, we'd turn the sound down.
The Tonight programme was run
by really highly sophisticated people, all Oxbridge,
and absolutely top-notch journalists.
They'd come from paper journalism into television.
And they just thought The White Heather Club was a big joke.
They thought it was so couthie and old-fashioned and archaic and comic.
And they used to sit in the green room with the sound switched off
and kind of have a giggle
at Andy twirling his kilt and stuff, stuff like that.
And I have to confess that Robin and I joined in.
# There's the swirl of the kilt and the skirl of the pipes
# And the lilting accordion... #
Andy eventually gave up hosting The White Heather Club
to concentrate on touring,
giving Jimmie Macgregor an awkward decision to make.
Andy had become really big,
and suddenly we were offered the job as hosts!
Of The White Heather Club,
of this programme that we had been sitting giggling about.
But it was a tremendous gig, The White Heather Club.
I mean, it had huge viewing figures in England,
and when it was off the air in the summer,
we took it out as a touring variety show
and we filled theatres from Brighton to Shetland it was fantastic.
Incredible support it got.
After the success of The White Heather Club,
in spite of me, it was a success,
and I was asked down to London to make some programmes.
# I've just come down from the Isle of Skye
# I'm no' very big and I'm awful shy
# And the lassies shout when I go by "Donald, where's your troosers?" #
As his television career made him a household name in the UK,
it was his touring that made him a global star.
The massive Scottish diaspora, many of whom were desperately homesick,
flocked to see Andy's sell-out shows all over the world.
In 1964, Andy bought the business of White Heather tours
and turned impresario,
as well as still being a regular performer himself.
He ran the hugely successful touring shows for 18 years,
hiring Scottish artists such as Joe Gordon and Sally Logan,
the Alexander Brothers and Stanley Baxter.
The last time I saw Andy, I was working for him.
He had taken over the White Heather tour,
and I had decided to do my final tour of Canada and America,
largely because I heard that we'd be playing Carnegie Hall.
And I thought, "Oh, that I've got to do."
So when Andy turned up, I said, "What are you doing here?"
He said, "Well, I run The White Heather Club now."
I said, "Oh, you've done awfully well."
Later that year, while performing
in a run of shows at His Majesty's Theatre in Aberdeen,
Andy hit the headlines when he and Sally Logan agreed to perform
at the World's Fair in New York.
Wonderful experience, outdoors, thousands of people there.
And we went for a day, basically.
A car came for us to the theatre in Aberdeen
after the show on the Saturday night
and drove us to Prestwick.
We arrived at the airport, I think it was called Idlewild Airport,
-and I think it became JFK.
We were then taken by car to the venue,
and I did about 20 minutes of an act,
and Andy went on and did an hour of an act.
Then he came offstage, and everything was packed for him,
and we just got in a car again and drove to the airport,
back on the plane and arrived at Prestwick.
The car took us to Aberdeen, and we were on stage that night.
I do remember feeling quite odd when I was on stage that night.
I think it was about '64, '65, we did the tour in North America
with Andy, and he was so good to us, because he allowed us
to close the first half, which is a prime spot, you know.
And the business was phenomenal.
-He was so huge.
He was so well liked, you know, unbelievable.
We played the Carnegie Hall two nights, complete sell-out.
He was on top of the world, really,
because he was touring New Zealand
and he had to come back and do Canada and America.
He was on the road, he wanted to go...
He loved meeting people, he loved going to the different countries.
# Oh, Campbeltown Loch I wish you were whisky
# Campbeltown Loch, och aye
# Oh, Campbeltown Loch I wish you were whisky
# I would drink you dry... #
Andy had frequent health issues,
which were often picked up in the press.
Despite this, his schedule would regularly involve
spring, summer and autumn tours
of Canada, America, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand.
How are you, your health? We heard some strange stories.
Did you get the latest story from Australia?
The whole tour was cancelled, that was published in Scotland.
We phoned the family home about...
I was taken to Brisbane General Hospital...not the general hospital,
one of the hospitals in Brisbane, and I had to be...
I had to have my plumbing temporarily sorted out.
And the report went back to Britain that I was stricken once again
and that I wouldn't be probably...
I'd probably be coming home encased in lead
or something like that.
But no, I can't honestly say that I'm 100% certain
of what my...interior's going to do next,
but I'm fairly healthy apart from that.
One way to sort of cut down the wear and tear would be
to knock off this strenuous touring you seem to go in for?
That's right, it would be,
but on the other hand, it's a terribly satisfying way of life.
Is that the time? Already?
Well, it must be because that's the song,
and when you play that song, then it's time.
Back in the UK, Andy was now synonymous with Hogmanay
and for over 20 years, he brought in the bells
with a TV audience of up to 30 million viewers.
I'm away for a pint.
Oh, well, I'll join you and then I'll go straight home.
To me, Andrew Stewart was just part and parcel of growing up.
As a wee guy, every Hogmanay, I can rarely listen to Andy Stewart
without almost smelling the froth fae my da's can of Tartan Export,
because they would be the parties. As a wee boy,
you'd get a wee fly drink at your da's fresh can of beer,
and invariably it would be Andy Stewart that was on in the background.
# And we all gather round the old fireside
# And the old mother kisses her son... #
We used to be allowed to go to bed and then get up
and watch The Hogmanay Show after we'd had a bit of a sleep
and stay up for a fizzy drink and watch him on television.
That's probably the earliest memory I have.
He wasn't really a family man, was he?
Well, he had a big enough family. I think he had five kids.
Do you know what I mean when I say that?
He wasn't one for being with the family all the time.
Although he was there obviously a few times.
Five daughters and one son. And proud of their dad, no doubt.
I never really ask them.
You've heard of Scots love, you know...
we don't go about asking, "Are you proud of me?"
Not till they say, "We're proud of you."
Was he a good dad?
Yes, when he was there. A lot of the time he wasn't there.
So, that's not such a good dad. So, there's a balancing out.
My dad was away all the time - all through our childhood.
My dad was away from the family home.
He used to write to us all, and we'd get our blue airmails through.
It was quite nice, really, because his writing was so bad
that we had to spend weeks literally deciphering what he said.
I think it was just what dad did. That was his job.
People used to ask what it's like having a famous father.
We didn't know anything different.
Many of Andy's children
and grandchildren have followed in his footsteps onto the stage.
There were five of us within six and a half years.
There was Tara, Andrew, Debbie, Lindsay and Melanie.
A big gap of 14 years, and my little sister, Magdalene, was born.
I think I would have been a dancer whatever,
because my mother was absolutely determined that was what I would do.
She decided I was going to be a ballet dancer very early on.
I wasn't really interested in acting to start with.
The stage and variety was what I wanted to do first, yeah.
I used to love singing and I still do.
And, when I was 16, he was working at Ayr,
in Ayr Gaiety. And he asked if I wanted to go along
and sing a spot. So, I did, just for a couple of shows there,
and that was really the start of it.
That's what I really wanted to do, I thought, at the time.
Quite a few of the grandchildren are entertainers.
I'm in a band called White Heath.
I'm not sure if I would say that it's in the blood.
Some people would say these things are,
but I think it's probably more to do with the fact that he was such
a huge presence and sort of influence, in a way,
as an elder statesman in the family
that's led to so many of his children and grandchildren.
There are lots of grandchildren. I think probably half or more
of them dance, sing, make music, act.
So, I think that he's sort of paved the way
for that being an accepted thing to do.
# Oh, it's nice to be a grandpa
# When you're getting kind of older
# For there's bonnie bairns to cuddle and stories to be told... #
We were all conscious, as time passed, that dad -
his punishing schedule, which it really was - was taking its toll.
And often he had spells in hospital.
But, although he would pay lip service to retiring
and taking it easy, he only had to be asked to do something
and he was right there.
Leaving hospital early often to go start and working again,
never giving himself a long enough time for recuperation.
I remembered going to visit him
and my granny in their house in Arbroath when I was quite young.
I remembered just spending time with him in the house,
just chatting and having a laugh.
And I remember quite often when we went to visit,
he was in quite poor health. Quite often.
But I remember being told, "Go and see him upstairs, go and say hi."
When I went up, he was always... No matter how ill he was,
he was always completely sparkling and life and soul.
Just great to be around.
I did hear that when Andy was very, very ill indeed...
he was...tubes up his nose, I mean, terribly ill and in hospital.
And he had a show to do.
He'd get up, pull out all the tubes and things, and go and do the show.
That's how daft performers are.
Andy retired from regular touring in the 1980s and was surprised
by a public campaign in 1989
to re-release one of his earliest records.
'It is the most happening record at the moment. This is Andy Stewart.
'Donald Where's Your Troosers?'
# I've just come down... #
"I just can't believe this," I said.
"It's quite flabbergasting.
I said, "My flabber has never been so gasted, in fact.
"I just can't believe this is happening to me."
# ..Donald, where's your troosers? #
I love it because...
it's the only record of its kind.
The atmosphere on it is so good.
It's so funny and it's such an uplifting record.
# ..Let the wind blow high Let the wind blow low... #
By the 1990s, despite poor health,
Andy continued to fulfil periodic concert and charity commitments.
# Amazing Grace
# How sweet the sound... #
One typical occasion was in 1993, when Andy was asked to star
at a charity event at the Usher Hall in Edinburgh.
That evening, we sat in our dressing room for ages and ages, talking.
It was the longest and the deepest conversation I had with him.
I really warmed to the guy a lot on that occasion.
I was shocked by how he looked.
The Usher Hall came for us to appear at.
We knew it was Andy who was the star of the show,
but we didn't know how many people were going to be in the show.
It was a huge show.
Of course, we all knew he'd been ill for ages
and been warned by the doctors to stop touring.
People used to say to me, "Why does he keep doing that?
"He's ill, he knows he's ill, he obviously doesn't need the money.
"Why does he keep to it?" I said, "Because that's who he is,
"that's what he is."
There's no way he can just stop. You can't do it.
But, anyway, we did the show,
and Andy went on as top of the bill -
absolutely slaughtered them.
Absolutely slaughtered them.
He'd total dynamism and energy - gave 101%.
We picked up the paper in the morning, and he died a few hours later.
Went home to bed and died.
It was quite a shock.
Performing made him more satisfied than not.
So, he would have been very frustrated if he couldn't have gone
and done it when he promised to.
That's what kept him driven to perform when he said he would, yes.
It wasn't a complete shock, actually, at all. Far from it.
It was the end of a long kind of anticipation.
There was always this sense that we knew
that his time was limited, really.
He'd had two bypass operations.
And nobody really would have presumed to try and tell him
what to do.
I was in New Zealand when it happened.
And it broke my heart, of course.
Because I was so sorry that his total promise was never realised.
Of course, his superficial promise as an entertainer
was immediately recognised.
His skill as an actor was there, in those performances.
But he would have given Scotland another dimension
to the character actor status.
I know he would have done. And who knows?
His writing might have extended, and he might have written his own play.
If he got to my hoary age that I am now,
he might have written a masterpiece.
But in himself, he was a masterpiece,
because he was a total work of art.
From his wee snub nose to his cheeky little voice, he was a work of art.
And I'm glad to have known him.
# I returned to the field of glory
# Where the green grass and flowers grow
# And the wind softly sings the story
# Of the brave lads of long ago... #
My dad was, I think,
very much epitomises a particular time in our social history.
There's part of me that's really proud of that, but part of me
that wants to defend what is sometimes seen
as a kind of kilt and heather sort of image.
Andy Stewart, philosopher.
We're very, very proud to have known him
-and to have worked with him.
-He was just a marvellous entertainer.
-He sure was. Andy.
Flawed. You know.
No doubt, I think his drive into the theatre was too encompassing
to be entirely good for your health.
# Sleep in peace
# Now the battle's o'er... #
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
Andy Stewart was one of Scotland's most successful entertainers, at home and abroad. He had hit records all over the world with songs such as Donald Where's Your Troosers and A Scottish Soldier and toured the globe long before it was the rock and roll thing to do. This ArtWorks Scotland documentary takes a nostalgic look at his life and work, from his early days as a serious actor and impressionist to his heyday fronting The White Heather Club. With contributions from Stanley Baxter, John Cairney, The Alexander Brothers, Sydney Devine and Andy's closest family, the film reveals another side to one of Scotland's best-loved icons.