"Hullawrerr, fair midden". Francie and Josie were a couple of cans short of a kerry-oot, but Rikki Fulton and Jack Milroy made them indispensable viewing on Scottish television in the early 1960's.
As a couple of Glasgow wide boys, their patter was wonderful and entered the Scottish lexicon. The ritual chat up line "Yiz daancin'?" "Yiz aaskin'?" "Ah'm aaskin'." "Ah'm daancin'." still resonates to this day.
Rikki Fulton , was one of the best humourous character actors Scotland has produced. With a naturally lugubrious style and deadpan delivery, he tells the joke about the time he went went into a Glasgow howf and found he had to pay only threepence for a hauf an a hauf (a whisky and a half pint).
The barman told him that the pub was celebrating its 50th anniversary by selling at the price they charged when they originally opened. Rikki noticed a man standing near the bar without a drink in his hand.
"Why is this chap here, not drinking then?" he asked.
The man replied, soberly, but with a pronounced Aberdeen accent: "I'm waiting for happy hour."
But it is as the Reverend I M Jolly, the dog-collared depressive on Last Call, a pastiche of Late Call, the dreaded Scottish television 5 minute late evening religious slot, that Rikki Fulton will be best remembered.
For more than a decade the Rev I M Jolly was the second most waited for Hogmanay event (the most awaited event being the bells of course). Scotch and Wry was the BBC New year show that deviated from the dreadful “White Heather Club” kind of cringe-worthy crap that we'd endured for years and the Reverend was its star. For the first time, there was real TV entertainment on Hogmanay, an evening when families traditionally gathered together.
Scotch and Wry was enormously popular and was watched by more than two million Scots. That's an astonishing figure. If you take out the sick, young, elderly and congenitally stupid, it probably represents 99% of the Scottish population. It was essential viewing and the subject of conversation for days afterwards.
Rikki Fulton was born in Glasgow in 1924 into a non-theatrical family. He caught the stage bug at an early age whilst convalescing from Tuberculosis. He left school and began working life as a clerk in a coal yard. In 1941 he, like thousands of other working-class Scots, volunteered for military service and joined the Navy. His ship was torpedoed and sunk in the Mediterranean. It was an experience that haunted him for many years. The sound of a Glasgow Corporation bus reminded him so much of V2 rockets that he often felt the need to take shelter when he heard one.
After the war he joined an amateur dramatics group and by 1947, had made his first radio appearance on the BBC (the only radio channel available at the time).
The rest, as they say, is history. As well as Francie and Josie, numerous stage plays and Scotch and Wry, he starred in a remake of Para Handy with Gregor Fisher as the skipper and Rikki playing the part of McPhail, the less than useful engineer. He also appeared in a couple of Bill Forsyth films and in the Hollywood blockbuster Gorky Park.
But he was essentially a Scottish character and his accent didn't translate south of Carlisle. And thank goodness for that. After all, look what happened to Billy Connolly.