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Image of Andy as Maurice Chevalier

Performing a tribute to Maurice Chevalier, BBC TV 1963

During his hectic schedule of touring and personal appearances, Andy still found time to make, or make appearances in, many television shows over the years including: Andy Stewart in London (1962), The Saturday Show (1962), The Andy Stewart Show (1963); The Man Behind the Star (1965); A Song for Scotland (1966); The London Palladium Show (1967); The Scottish Minstrel (1967); Stewart Style (1969); The Andy Stewart Show (1970); Stars on Sunday (1971); The Andy Stewart Show (1975); Andy's Party (1978) and of course many Hogmanay shows.

His first major high-profile TV series following The White Heather Club was broadcast in early 1965. Part-scripted by Andy himself and produced for the BBC in Scotland by Iain MacFadyen, With Andy was a thirteen week series broadcast nationally on BBC1, from a large studio setting, with the Augmented BBC Scottish Variety Orchestra, a full cast and dancers, giving Andy an opportunity to demonstrate his ability as an all-round entertainer and presenter introducing a wide range of International Variety artists such as spanish vocal group Los Zafiros, Patsy Ann Noble from Australia, Scandanavian singer Gitte, and closer to home, Eric Sykes, Ray Alan & Lord Charles and Chic Murray.

Whilst TV "specials" provided Andy with an opportunity to reach a national audience and showcase his many talents, they also allowed him to enduldge himself occasionally, as demonstrated in his tribute to one of his personal heroes, Maurice Chevalier:

"Maurice Chevalier was really another one who, as much as anybody else, inspired me to go into Variety. I thought what he's done for France; I could maybe in my own small way do for Scotland. As students we had concession tickets for the King's every week. When Maurice Chevalier was appearing none of my friends wanted to go so I went on my own. I'd never even seen the man on stage before, but I was already doing impressions of him going on what others had told me.

I swear as I sat in the audience I must have been blushing about the inadequacy of my impersonation. The man had magic, charisma, a special quality and from that moment on he was my hero. And though I appeared on the same bill seven years later in the 1961 Royal Variety Show, I never did get the chance to speak to him."


Andy on Christmas Night with the Stars (1964)

Andy also popped up on the 1964 Christmas Day programme Christmas Night with the Stars for the BBC, appearing from the far flung island of Unst. Ian Powrie recalled the making of the broadcast: "Accompanied by a camera team we boarded an R.A.F. Transport plane at Turnhouse bound for Shetland. On arrival we were bundled into a bus and driven through the island. Then we boarded a boat and sailed to the island of Yell, where another bus was waiting. Through Yell we went and onto another boat to take us to Unst. Eventually we reached our destination and after a lengthy rehearsal taped a wonderful show. Of course, we had to travel back in exactly the same fashion. After all that our show yielded only two minutes of film for the "spectacular"."

Andy was invited to appear on what was probably the most popular television show in America: The Ed Sullivan Show (Toast of the Town) from New York. His mimicry was showcased here to the audience's delight, as he impersonated Dean Martin singing Scottish Songs (much as he had performed back in his early Variety days). Andy described the host as a very "remote" person, who acted more like an overseer of the action rather than the genial host. He was also surprised at the size of the studio:

"It was a very tiny theatre.

You were all glassed in with cameras surrounding you. The audience was sort of separated from you, but still it was a big thrill."

Whilst fulfilling engagements in America, he would meet some very famous faces...

"I remember the first time I went to Hollywood, I did see one or two well known, very famous people. I was awestruck. I met people like, Bob Hope and George Burns. I was asked to wear my kilt and play a round of golf at Hollywood's most exclusive club with Danny Kaye. Harry Lauder's brother-in-law George Vallance arranged the match.

That morning, I was up at the crack of dawn, dressed in the kilt and rarin' to go... it was a perfect morning, blue skies and not a cloud in sight. Nor were my golf partners. By lunch-time they still hadn't appeared. I finally contacted George Vallance... and found him sweltering in the sun. It was 105 degrees in the shade! I was so keyed-up about the match I hadn't even noticed the heat... which was too great even for a game of golf!"

Back in Britain, on the 23rd May 1970 Andy appeared on the radio as the featured "castaway" on BBC Radio's Desert Island Discs presented by Roy Plomley. This long running programme asks a different celebrity each week to choose his or hers favourite records to take with them to a fictional desert island. They are also "allowed" to take with them one book and one luxury item. Andy revealed a side to himself that listeners may have been surprised about through his choice of music:

For his book he chose The Collected Works of Robert Burns and for his luxury item he chose "writing materials".

Image of Andy on Scotch Corner

'Scotch Corner', STV 1972

In 1972 Andy began work on a half-hour TV programme Scotch Corner, a show that would in many ways mirror the earlier success of The White Heather Club. The show consisted of Andy and Jimmy Blue's Band with selected guest stars such as Lulu, George Hamilton IV and Rolf Harris.

Produced in colour by Scottish Television and directed by Andy's friend from drama days Clarke Tait, the show was created to fill a new lunchtime slot - created by the extension of ITV broadcasting hours - beginning in October 1972 and scheduled to run for nine weeks. STV were pleasantly surprised by the high ratings for a lunchtime show and by the large number of viewer's letters, so they began to repeat the show again at the 6:30PM "teatime" slot. It began to be networked south of the border and was then sold to New Zealand and Australia. Scotch Corner continued from its original nine-week run, becoming Britain's most popular lunchtime programme, eventually running from 1972-1974.

Image of Andy Stewart with Marilyn Fields

Andy visits Marilyn Fields in the 1960's at
Mearnskirk Hospital in Glasgow
Image of Andy Stewart with Marilyn Fields

Marilyn Fields has an emotional reunion with
Andy on 'This is Your Life' in 1975

On the 31st of December 1975 Andy was presenting the Hogmanay programme with Kenneth McKellar from the STV studios in Glasgow when Eamonn Andrews pounced with the "Big Red Book" informing him that This Is Your Life. Showbusiness colleagues, family and friends all turned out to honour Andy including, most touchingly, Marilyn Fields, who appeared to thank him for visiting her as a young girl in the early sixties as she underwent one of the first "hole-in-the-heart" operations at Mearnskirk Hospital in Glasgow.

 

*Andy Stewart MBE

"I was awarded the freedom of Ibrox in 1960 ...

... 600,000 Catholics said they were going to burn
my records on a bonfire!"

Image of Andy Stewart with his MBE

Andy with his wife Sheila, daughter Tara and son Andrew,
Buckingham Palace, December 8th 1976

To a self-confessed "Rangers-daft" fan Andy had to joke about receiving, from Glasgow Rangers Football Club, the Freedom of Ibrox. Andy was presented with many and varied accolades and awards during his career including: 'Scottish Show Biz Discovery of the Year 1960'; presentation discs for sales of A Scottish Soldier; and an illuminated scroll and symbolic bottle of water from Campbeltown Loch, as a thank-you from the people of Campbeltown for his part in raising the profile of the town - to name but a few.

But probably the highest accolade came in 1976. For his work in the theatre Andy was awarded the MBE from Her Majesty the Queen. He received his investiture at Buckingham Palace, and in his honour a small orchestra had been setup in the balcony and the band played a medley of his hits to the waiting families in the relatives room. Being awarded the MBE for "services to theatre" was surely one of his proudest achievements given his obvious love of the stage:

"The stage itself is light... wonderful... beautiful... home. You, however, are in the wings. You are moving about in that darkened area, stumbling over props, tripping over scenery, bumping into each other and frightened that you have forgotten your lines. There is confusion and turmoil. But the moment you step into the light, it doesn't matter what the scuffling was before you got to stage-centre. It only matters that you are home again."

By the mid-seventies Andy had surely achieved and to an extent surpassed his hopes and ambitions. He had achieved tremendous popularity both at home and abroad and had been awarded the royal stamp of approval, but a change had begun in Scotland and a cold wind was blowing in from the North Sea.