One is an icon of comedy, behind one of the country’s legendary comic characters. And so is the other.
But Gregor Fisher now admits stepping into the shoes of the Rev I M Jolly for last year’s Late Call was the wrong call.
The Rab C Nesbitt star put on the dog collar and sat in the famous green chair to honour Rikki Fulton’s most famous character for a BBC Scotland Hogmanay sketch.
But the 65-year-old wishes he had not done the sketch, recorded to mark the 40th anniversary of Scotch And Wry, Rikki’s famous sketch show that gave Fisher his TV break.
Speaking last December, Gregor said “he was delighted to do it” and thought the late Rikki would “like the idea of Jolly being back on screen again”.
Now, though, he admits it was the wrong thing to do.
“I felt it very uncomfortable and I don’t know now why I did it,” Gregor admits. “It was like he was sitting right next to me. It was almost sacrilegious.
“It’s not a huge regret – one shouldn’t regret thinks like that – but I just thought, ‘why did I do it?’.
“But there are a lot of things in life you think you shouldn’t have done and then there are things you resist but once you’ve done it you’re pleased. You can’t possibly know what the end result will be.”
Gregor says he owes a lot to comedy legend Rikki, who passed away 15 years ago.
“I had a chance conversation with him in Edinburgh one day, where he told me he was doing a show called Scotch And Wry and he thought I’d be very good at it, was it something that interested me?
“I was 25, so any sort of work would be of interest.
“That was a chance meeting and conversation, but it opened a door to television, to take me in a direction I never could have imagined.”
Later this month, Gregor will do an An Evening With-style show at the Beacon Arts Centre in Greenock to talk about a long career that takes in Naked Video, Rab C, Para Handy and films like 1984, Whisky Galore and, of course, Love Actually.
He’ll also touch on his childhood, which he explored in his memoirs, The Boy From Nowhere, when he revealed he found out at 14 he’d been adopted.
The one-off show came at the behest of his friend, director Nigel West, who has been pushing him to do it for years.
“He’s told me it’ll be a laugh,” Gregor said. “I don’t know what I’m letting myself in for, but it won’t be an evening of misery about my colourful upbringing or past.
“That might last five minutes, but the rest of the evening will be about my life and career, and maybe the occasional communal singsong.”
It was France-based Nigel who inspired Gregor and his wife of nearly 30 years, actor and producer Vicki Burton, to move across the Channel, but they still come home regularly.
“My kids are here – in Bristol, Portsmouth and Hereford – so we get about and see them, and I’m also in Glasgow quite regularly.
“I also have a friend who I spend quite a lot of time sailing with on the west coast. It’s a nice life, but it can be very choppy!
“And I’m quite obsessed with the news. Being abroad doesn’t divorce me from the comings and goings and latest debacles.”
Gregor admits Brexit could make life in France more challenging.
“It could make my continued stay in France more difficult if they don’t come to some reciprocal agreement about healthcare and all the rest of it. That could be very tricky.
“There as so many French people in London, all contributors and workers, of young, working age, but there are fewer Brits in France and they are mostly of pensionable age, so therefore require more healthcare.
“It would be rather unfair on the French and I’m sure that will need to be taken into account.
“It’s nervous times. I do lean towards the notion we should all be sticking together, when you see the rise of China, the financial power India has become, and the very volatile people across the Atlantic.
“I think we should be forming a European club, but that’s just me.”
The current political situation would provide street philosopher Rab C Nesbitt with a wealth of material.
There was chat a few years ago about reviving the show once more for the live stage, following in the footsteps of Still Game, Gary: Tank Commander and Limmy.
“I think there is always material to be had for Rab in every situation,” Gregor added. “That was one of the great things about his universality.
“I believe the ingredients for that particular cake – the live show – are still being discussed, but they’ve yet to be mixed and the oven has not been lit, but we shall never say never.
“It would need to be right, though.”
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