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Final curtain for Fran and Anna

They were doyennes of the Scottish light entertainment scene and lit up the stage with their couthie banter and tartan mini-skirts. But yesterday a vast entry in the history of variety performance came to an end with the death of Anna Watt, the surviving sister.

They were doyennes of the Scottish light entertainment scene and lit up the stage with their couthie banter, tartan mini-skirts and fishnet tights. And that was when they were still in their 70s.

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But yesterday a vast entry in the history of variety performance came to an end with the death of Anna Watt, the surviving sister of the Fran and Anna double act, who died peacefully at a hospice in Coatbridge, aged 85.

She moved there last May, having never been the same since her older sister died in 2003.

For her relatives yesterday, there was some comfort in the fact that she would be reunited with her beloved Fran.

Jim Watt, the cousin of the celebrity sisters, said: "She will be up there in heaven having a rerr terr with her family. That is what she was looking forward to, seeing them all again.

"We used to wonder why Anna was hanging on for so long, but we thought her brothers and sisters were just getting the party ready for her - and making a new outfit for the occasion.

"Since her sister passed, she went into her shell, she didn't get involved in any entertainment again. Anna was still a happy person though and soldiered on for another five and a half years without her but she took a turn for the worse around a week and a half ago and died very, very peacefully."

Rarely seen without their rouged cheeks and matching bonnets, even when they were just out buying tattie scones in their home town of Coatbridge, the two were literally born into showbusiness.

Their father Valentine Prince was part steel worker and part ventriloquist and toured the clubs of Lanarkshire with his two youngest daughters, who went on to perform their own acts. After leaving St Patrick's Secondary in Coatbridge, the pair went to London in search of showbiz success.

However, it was not until the 1960s that success, in the form of the Prince Sisters, arrived.

They toured the international cabaret and supper club circuits and counted among their friends Gracie Fields and Princess Grace of Monaco.

They remained virtually unknown in their native Scotland until they changed their act to Fran and Anna.

They flew the flag for a disingenuous, comic style of song and were the embodiment of tartan kitsch. What they lacked in vocal ability they made up for with their appearance and cheeky charm. They were easy targets for mockery, but that - in a way - became part of their stage act and part of their appeal.

Fran and Anna made an instant impression on Radio Clyde disc jockey Jack McLaughlin who described them as "the most lovable couple in showbusiness - until they start singing''.

They became the constant butt of McLaughlin jokes, whose mockings included "the gruesome twosome'' and "the bags in drag''.

But the jibes were all in good spirit and when McLaughlin went on to front STV's Scottish country dance show Thingummyjig, he took the dynamic duo with him - making them a showbiz phenomenon in the process.

Bob Bain, secretary of the Scottish Music Hall and Variety Theatre Society, said yesterday he was saddened to hear of Anna's death.

He recalled: "I used to work on the stage door at the Pavilion Theatre (in Glasgow) and would walk them to their car. They were very sweet ladies. I think it would be fair to call them a legend in their own time. Not to be unkind, when they did come to wider public attention they weren't in their youth. To see the two elderly ladies in fishnet tights was really something to see.

"There just wasn't an act like them. There is still a lot of interest in Scotland's music hall and variety tradition, but unfortunately the acts just disappear as time moves on."

Also included in the Fran and Anna fanbase was Terry Wogan and the entertainers found themselves with a regular spot on his television chat show in the 1980s.

Fran and Anna, like their three siblings, never married and all five brothers and sisters lived together in a house in Coatbridge.

In 1989, the showbiz sisters were awarded with British Empire Medals in the Queen's Birthday Honours List for their services to light entertainment. It was only then that the duo's ages, hitherto a closely guarded secret, were revealed. Before that they had always styled themselves as perpetually 21.

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