Rikki Fulton

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Rikki Fulton
Rikki Fulton.JPG
Fulton as painted by Thomas Kluge in 1997
Robert Kerr Fulton

(1924-04-15)15 April 1924
Glasgow, Scotland
Died27 January 2004(2004-01-27) (aged 79)
Glasgow, Scotland
Years active1947–2002 (retirement)
Spouse(s)Ethel Scott (1949–1968)
Kate Matheson (1969–2004; his death)

Robert Kerr "Rikki" Fulton, [1] OBE (15 April 1924 – 27 January 2004) was a Scottish comedian and actor best remembered for writing and performing in the long-running BBC Scotland sketch show, Scotch and Wry . [2] He was also known for his appearances as one half of the double act, Francie and Josie, alongside Jack Milroy. [2] Suffering from Alzheimer's disease in his later years, Fulton died in 2004, aged 79. [3]

Order of the British Empire order of chivalry of British constitutional monarchy

The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is a British order of chivalry, rewarding contributions to the arts and sciences, work with charitable and welfare organisations, and public service outside the civil service. It was established on 4 June 1917 by King George V and comprises five classes across both civil and military divisions, the most senior two of which make the recipient either a knight if male or dame if female. There is also the related British Empire Medal, whose recipients are affiliated with, but not members of, the order.

Scottish people ethnic inhabitants of Scotland

The Scottish people or Scots, are a nation and Celtic ethnic group native to Scotland. Historically, they emerged from an amalgamation of two Celtic-speaking peoples, the Picts and Gaels, who founded the Kingdom of Scotland in the 9th century. Later, the neighbouring Celtic-speaking Cumbrians, as well as Germanic-speaking Anglo-Saxons and Norse, were incorporated into the Scottish nation.

BBC Scotland Scottish division of the British Broadcasting Corporation

BBC Scotland is a division of the BBC and the main public broadcaster in Scotland.



Early life

The youngest of three brothers, [4] Robert Kerr Fulton was born into a non-theatrical family at 46 Appin Road, [5] Dennistoun, Glasgow. [3] Fulton's mother, who was 40 at the time of his birth, developed severe postpartum depression. Due to this, Fulton grew up a "solitary child" and developed a "voracious reading habit" throughout his childhood. [4] His father was a master locksmith who changed trades, purchasing a newsagent and stationery shop at 28 Roebank Street, Dennistoun. [5] At the age of three, Fulton and his family moved to Riddrie, another district of Glasgow. [4] There he attended the local primary school but later returned to Dennistoun for his secondary education at Whitehill Secondary School. [5]

Dennistoun district of the city of Glasgow, Scotland

Dennistoun is a district of the city of Glasgow, Scotland. It is situated north of the River Clyde in the east end of the city. It is made up of a number of smaller districts - Milnbank to the north, 'The Drives' in the centre of the area and Bellgrove below Duke Street to the south. In a 2004 census the area had a population of roughly 10,530. Although predominantly tenemental, the Victorian villas and terraces to the west illustrate part of Alexander Dennistoun's original plan for the whole area.

Postpartum depression (PPD), also called postnatal depression, is a type of mood disorder associated with childbirth, which can affect both sexes. Symptoms may include extreme sadness, low energy, anxiety, crying episodes, irritability, and changes in sleeping or eating patterns. Onset is typically between one week and one month following childbirth. PPD can also negatively affect the newborn child.


Riddrie is a north eastern district of Glasgow, Scotland. It lies on the A80 Cumbernauld Road.

Fulton completed his education in 1939 and decided to enter the world of acting after a backstage visit at the Glasgow Pavilion Theatre. [5] In 1941, aged 17, Fulton joined the Royal Navy. The following year he was posted to HMS Ibis, but that November the sloop was sunk in the Bay of Algiers. Fulton spent five hours in the water before being rescued. [4] He later joined the Coastal Forces for D-Day, travelling back and forth between Gosport and Arromanches with vital supplies. In 1945, four years after signing up, Fulton was invalided out of the Navy due to blackouts, [4] leaving with the rank of sub-lieutenant. [6]

Pavilion Theatre (Glasgow) theatre in Glasgow, Scotland

The Pavilion Theatre is a theatre in Glasgow located on Renfield Street.

Royal Navy Maritime warfare branch of the United Kingdoms military

The Royal Navy (RN) is the United Kingdom's naval warfare force. Although warships were used by the English kings from the early medieval period, the first major maritime engagements were fought in the Hundred Years War against the Kingdom of France. The modern Royal Navy traces its origins to the early 16th century; the oldest of the UK's armed services, it is known as the Senior Service.

HMS <i>Ibis</i> (U99)

HMS Ibis, pennant number U99, was a Black Swan-class sloop of the Royal Navy, named after the Ibis.


Fulton began his professional acting career as a straight actor, mostly appearing in repertory theatre and BBC Radio, including The Gowrie Conspiracy in 1947. He also maintained a secondary job in the stationery business with his brothers. When the bank pulled money from their enterprise, however, Fulton gave his full attention to his acting career.

A repertory theatre can be a Western theatre or opera production in which a resident company presents works from a specified repertoire, usually in alternation or rotation. In the British system, however, it used to be that even quite small towns would support a rep, and the resident company would present a different play every week, either a revival from the full range of classics or, if given the chance, a new play, once the rights had been released after a West End or Broadway run. However, the companies were not known for trying out untried new work. The methods, now seldom seen, would also be used in the United States, Canada, and Australia.

BBC Radio division and service of the British Broadcasting Corporation

BBC Radio is an operational business division and service of the British Broadcasting Corporation. The service provides national radio stations covering the majority of musical genres, as well as local radio stations covering local news, affairs and interests. It also oversees online audio content.

In the early 1950s, Fulton moved to London and became the compère of The Show Band Show, [7] working alongside the likes of singer Frank Sinatra. [6] After a short period, Fulton returned to Scotland to perform for Howard & Wyndham Ltd in pantomime from 1956 at the Alhambra Theatre, Glasgow with Jimmy Logan and Kenneth McKellar followed by the "Five Past Eight" summer revues with Stanley Baxter and Fay Lenore. [8]

Frank Sinatra American singer, actor, and producer

Francis Albert Sinatra was an American actor, producer, and singer who was one of the most popular and influential musical artists of the 20th century. He is one of the best-selling music artists of all time, having sold more than 150 million records worldwide.

Howard & Wyndham Ltd was a theatre owning, production and management company of John B. Howard and Frederick W. P. Wyndham, founded in Glasgow in 1895, and which became the largest of its type in Britain. The company continued well into the 20th century; its theatres being eventually sold in the 1960s, and the shareholding coming under American control.

Pantomime form of musical comedy stage production, developed in the United Kingdom and mostly performed during Christmas and New Year season

Pantomime is a type of musical comedy stage production designed for family entertainment. It was developed in England and is performed throughout the United Kingdom, Ireland and in other English-speaking countries, especially during the Christmas and New Year season. Modern pantomime includes songs, gags, slapstick comedy and dancing. It employs gender-crossing actors and combines topical humour with a story more or less based on a well-known fairy tale, fable or folk tale. It is a participatory form of theatre, in which the audience is expected to sing along with certain parts of the music and shout out phrases to the performers.

In 1960, he headlined in the new Scottish pantomime "A Wish for Jamie," with Kenneth McKellar and Fay Lenore, which premiered at the Alhambra Theatre Glasgow, and in its sequel "A Love for Jamie," which ran for three consecutive winters. [9] He starred in pantomime and Five Past Eight in Edinburgh and Aberdeen. While working at the King's Theatre, Edinburgh, Fulton met comedian Jack Milroy. Together they created a stage double act named "Francie and Josie", two Teddy Boys from Glasgow. [6] In one of his first forays into television, Fulton brought the act to television in 1962's Scottish Television series, The Adventures of Francie and Josie. [4] The series established both Fulton and Milroy as household names in Scotland. In 1970 and 1989, they were jointly named Scotland's "Light Entertainers of the Year". [6] [7] In 1977, Fulton produced "The Scotched Earth Show" with Gordon Menzies for the BBC. Menzies later produced Fulton's most popular sketch series, Scotch and Wry. [10]

Alhambra Theatre Glasgow former theatre in Glasgow, Scotland

The Alhambra Theatre, Glasgow opened on 19 December 1910 at the corner of Waterloo Street and Wellington Street, Glasgow under the direction of Sir Alfred Butt and was acknowledged as one of the best equipped theatres in Britain, planned to accommodate 2,800 people.

Aberdeen City and council area in Scotland

Aberdeen is a city in northeast Scotland. It is Scotland's third most populous city, one of Scotland's 32 local government council areas and the United Kingdom's 37th most populous built-up area, with an official population estimate of 196,670 for the city of Aberdeen and 228,800 for the local council area.

Kings Theatre, Edinburgh theatre in Edinburgh, Scotland

The King's Theatre was opened in 1906 and stands on a prominent site on Leven Street in Edinburgh. It is one of Scotland's historic and important theatres.

Fulton continued to perform regularly in pantomime and in straight theatre, mostly notably with the Royal Lyceum Company in Edinburgh and the Scottish Theatre Company based in Glasgow. However, it was the comedy sketch show, Scotch and Wry , that became a Hogmanay institution. [3] The series featured one of Fulton's most remembered characters, the Reverend I.M. Jolly, [3] a dour, depressed minister prone to inappropriate television conversations. [4] The series began in 1978 and continued for 15 years, and was shown only once throughout the United Kingdom in 1983. [7] Fulton was named Scottish Television Personality of the Year in 1963 and 1979. [4]

In 1982, Fulton made an appearance in the film Gorky Park, where he played a KGB officer. Director Michael Apted chose Fulton for the role because "he [Apted] had never seen such cruel eyes". [4] He also performed in Bill Forsyth's Local Hero and Comfort and Joy. In 1985, under the pseudonym "Rabaith", [11] Fulton, along with Denise Coffey, adapted the French playwright Molière's, Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme as A Wee Touch o' Class. He performed in the lead role at that year's Edinburgh Fringe; the Festival re-booked it for the following year and it went on tour throughout Scotland.

Fulton made several guest appearances in other BBC Scotland programmes. Alongside his Scotch and Wry co-stars Gregor Fisher and Tony Roper, Fulton made two appearances in Rab C. Nesbitt ; once in 1988 and 10 years later in 1998. In 1992, Fulton was awarded the Order of the British Empire and a year later the Lifetime Achievement award from BAFTA Scotland. [3] In 1994, he again appeared alongside Fisher as Dan McPhail, The Vital Spark's engineer, in The Tales of Para Handy . [7] In 1996, after 36 years of performing as Francie and Josie, Fulton and Milroy appeared in their "Final Farewell" at the King's Theatre, Glasgow. Milroy later died in 2001, aged 85 years. [12]

Fulton's last full performance on television came on New Year's Eve 1999 with the comedy special It's a Jolly Life and his final Last Call monologue as the Reverend I.M. Jolly. [13] After saying his final goodbye to television, Fulton wrote and published his autobiography, Is It That Time Already?. [14] In 1994, Fulton was awarded an honorary Doctor of Arts from Abertay University, Dundee, [15] in 1995 an honorary Doctor of Letters from the University of Strathclyde and in 2000 another honorary Doctor of Letters from the University of St Andrews. [16]

Personal life

Fulton was first married to actress Ethel Scott, who appeared with him on The Rikki Fulton Show in 1960 and 1961. [7] While separated from their respective partners, Fulton met Audrey Matheson Craig-Brown (known as Kate Matheson), an actress 13 years his junior. [17] Matheson saw Fulton perform in a production of Noël Coward's Hay Fever , [17] but it would be 17 years before they met in person. After one day together, Fulton proposed and they married in 1969. In 1976, Matheson became pregnant but later lost the baby. [17]

In 1998, Fulton began to display symptoms of Alzheimer's disease. In 2001, his wife recalled that "he [Fulton] returned home and devastatingly informed her, "I can't remember my lines any more." In 2002, after being diagnosed with the disease, Fulton remained at his own home and fronted that year's Alzheimer Scotland Christmas appeal. [18] He grew to depend on Kate more and more until, eventually, it was decided he move into the Quayside nursing home. [17] In 2003, after breaking his hip in a fall, he was admitted to the Western Infirmary and then to Gartnavel Royal Hospital for assessment. [19] After contracting the "superbug" MRSA and returning to Quayside, Fulton died peacefully on 27 January 2004, aged 79 years. [3]

Fulton's death sparked numerous dedications in his memory. The then-BBC Scotland Controller, John McCormick, said "he [Fulton] was a legend for people across the whole country." [3]

Fulton's funeral took place six days after his death. In tribute to his Scotch and Wry character Supercop (a police traffic officer), police motorcyclists escorted the funeral cortège as it made its way to Clydebank Crematorium. [2] [20] The Reverend Alastair Symington, who was a close friend of Fulton, led the service, which featured tributes from Fulton's widow Kate Matheson and Tony Roper. [2] Symington had previously collaborated with Fulton on the book, For God's Sake, Ask!. [21] Both Rikki and his Kate were strong supporters of the Scottish SPCA, which received a financial donation following Fulton's funeral. A Scottish SPCA inspector represented the animal welfare organisation at the service.

Kate Matheson died in 2005 after completing a book about her relationship with Fulton, entitled Rikki & Me. [22] [23] For her funeral in Glasgow, Matheson requested no black ties should be worn because "we [she and Fulton] were together again". [22]


Notable Characters

Supercop a frequently dimwitted traffic cop who rides a motorbike, his trademark is how he removes his goggles (pings off and flies off camera), is often getting into more trouble than those he stops. Carries a small pocket sized notepad and pencil.

Rev. I.M Jolly a very downtrodden and pessimistic minister of the Church of Scotland, presents a fictional show "Last Call" where he has a heart to heart with the audience where he tells them what he has been up to that week. his tone is always low-key and down beat.

Dickie Dandruff owner of "The Fourways Café" also goes by the moniker "The Gallowgate Gourmet" and presents a cooking segment called "Dirty Dick's Delicat'messen" where he prepares food in comedic style from his filthy café kitchen in the Gallowgate area of Glasgow.

Josie is also another much loved character from his comedy show "Francie and Josie" with co-star Jack Milroy who played "Francie"

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  1. As per birth and death, recorded on ScotlandsPeople
  2. 1 2 3 4 "Final tributes to funnyman Fulton". BBC News Online . 3 February 2004. Retrieved 31 January 2008.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 "Comic legend Rikki Fulton dies". BBC News Online . 28 January 2004. Retrieved 31 January 2008.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 "Rikki Fulton". The Daily Telegraph . 29 January 2004. Retrieved 31 January 2008.
  5. 1 2 3 4 "Articles". Dennistoun.co.uk. Retrieved 31 January 2008.
  6. 1 2 3 4 "Rikki Fulton". The Times . 29 January 2004. Retrieved 6 February 2008.
  7. 1 2 3 4 5 Young, Cy (29 January 2004). "OBITUARY: Rikki Fulton". The Independent . Retrieved 6 July 2014.
  8. Moore, Hazel (26 May 2007). "Howard and Wyndham Limited 1888 – 1948: 60 Years of Pantomime and Beyond" . Retrieved 31 January 2008.
  9. "Alhambra Glasgow" by Graeme Smith ISBN   9780955942013
  10. "BBC One - Watching Ourselves: 60 Years of TV in Scotland - Rikki Fulton". BBC. Retrieved 2019-02-07.
  11. Lochhead, Liz (17 March 2002). "Mirth from misery; Why does Molire raise the roof in Scotland". Sunday Herald . Archived from the original on 14 July 2014. Retrieved 6 July 2014.
  12. "Death of veteran comedian". BBC News Online . 1 February 2001. Retrieved 31 January 2008.
  13. "The Final "Last call" December 31st 1999". BBC Television . Archived from the original on 27 February 2010.
  14. Fulton, Rikki (1999). Is It That Time Already?. Black and White Publishing. p. 328. ISBN   1-84502-001-4.
  15. "Honorary Graduates". Abertay University . Retrieved 6 February 2008.
  16. "HONORARY DEGREES". University of St Andrews . 12 June 2000. Archived from the original on 17 July 2007. Retrieved 6 February 2008.
  17. 1 2 3 4 Ross, Peter (24 October 2004). "Loving memory; Rikki and Kate Fulton fell in love in 1967 when his career was in the doldrums". Sunday Herald . Archived from the original on 14 July 2014. Retrieved 6 July 2014.
  18. Simmons, April (22 December 2002). "Overcoming the stigma of dementia". Sunday Herald . Archived from the original on 14 July 2014. Retrieved 6 July 2014.
  19. Shields, Tom (16 June 2003). "It's A Dog's Life; Rikki Fulton may be trapped in his mind, but we still have his memories". Sunday Herald . Archived from the original on 14 July 2014. Retrieved 6 July 2014.
  20. Sheilds, Tom (1 February 2004). "Ride of honour for Supercop". Sunday Herald . Archived from the original on 14 July 2014. Retrieved 6 July 2014.
  21. Symington, Alistair; Rikki Fulton (1993). For God's Sake, Ask!. Saint Andrew Press. p. 112. ISBN   0-7152-0686-9.
  22. 1 2 Irving, Gordon (23 May 2005). "Kate Matheson". The Stage . Retrieved 31 January 2008.
  23. Fulton, Kate (2004). Rikki & Me. Black and White Publishings. p. 256. ISBN   1-84502-003-0.