Walter Carr, actor and comedian; born December 26, 1925, died May 30, 1998

The handsome young man named Walter Anderson who joined the popular repertory company The Wilson Barrett Players for their record-breaking seasons at Glasgow and Edinburgh back in 1947 little realised, I'm sure, how he was to progress and become, a quarter of a century later, one of Scotland's best-known comedy and character actors as well as the roguishly likeable Dougie the Mate in the BBC Scotland television series The Vital Spark.

But his love for live theatre, nurtured in the world of amateur dramatics, ensured that he would spend the next 50 years of his life as a leading member of the acting profession, attaining the status of a top pantomime dame as well as a strong ''feed'' or foil to the star Glasgow comedian, Lex McLean.

He had graduated from the aspiring world of amateur dramatics in Ayrshire to the demanding scrutiny of large-scale city productions. A little-known fact about Carr is that, as a young man living in Prestwick, he joined

and sang with the Ayrshire Philharmonic Opera Society. This training must have stood him in good stead, for alert professional producers noticed his obvious talent for singing as well as dancing and felt that, given the opportunities, he might have branched out into the world of musicals as a song-and-dance man.

As it was, whether it was pulling out all the stops in a Shakespearean drama or a Moliere comedy, or playing the gangling fool in a music hall sketch, Walter Carr (he adopted the new surname for the professional stage) gave his all, and loved his career, just as most of his fellow actors loved him

for his pleasantly open honesty. He was a quietly happy man both on stage and off, with seldom a jealous word to say of his fellow professionals.

In those long-gone post-war years, when repertory actors changed roles each week and satisfied a strong demand for varied and popular fare, young Walter, who never married, honed his art in the demanding weekly changes of Noel Coward and other comedies, thus establishing the basis for his accomplished versatility in the boom- ing live theatre era of the 1960s and 1970s.

Those were the days when, unlike in today's cost-conscious environment, no expense was spared at major city theatres like the former Glasgow Alhambra, the Glasgow King's, and the King's in Edinburgh.

Carr became a polished and workmanlike actor, scoring especially in productions like Mother Goose, and featuring alongside established performers such as Rikki Fulton, Una McLean, Jimmy Logan, and Johnnie Beattie.

Equally appreciated was his work, in the crowd-pulling Lex McLean summer shows at the Glasgow Pavilion, as a ''comic's labourer'', the foil to principal funny man Lex.

He had earlier featured in 24 half-hour Lex McLean programmes made by BBC tv Scotland from 1968 to 1972, and a look back at these on tape proves the remarkable Carr versatility.

Ian Christie, the former BBC tv producer, who made that comedy series for the home screen, recalls how Carr offered strong support

to McLean and how the variety theatre comedian, then totally new to television, ''really appreciated Carr's guidance and work''.

Soon afterwards, when McLean suffered a stroke while appearing at the King's Theatre, Edinburgh, Carr, Una McLean, and Charlie Sim took over the comedy load and helped ensure that the show would go on.

Carr was no ''luvvie'' with ostentatious airs; offstage, he was a friendly and popular figure in Perth where he made his home and where he produced and appeared in pantomime and other productions for the Perth Theatre company. He loved Perth so

much that, even while appearing in the Lex McLean season at Glasgow, he would drive back each night, stopping on the drive north to, as he said, ''pick up a fish'n'chips supper''.

He was comforted, during

his illness of two years, by

visits from fellow actors and

the thoughts of his many friends in Perth, where he died at

the weekend.

n Rikki Fulton writes: Those

of us who labour, and have laboured, in laughter's vineyards, will always remember Wally as a truly gentle man.

Over the many years I have had the privilege of knowing and working with him, I have never heard him say a harsh word about any of his team-mates, nor did anyone have anything but praise for him. The mere mention of his name would bring a grin to our faces and a glow of warmth to the heart.

I met him, first, back in the mid-forties in a not-very-successful play in which he had to wear a kilt. This was a problem for Wally, having to wrap a couple of towels around his non-existent hips for each performance.

We became friends immed-iately (not a difficult thing for anyone to do) since I had to help him wind the towelling round his nether regions.

My favourite memories of Wally are his immediate query when asked to produce one of his many characters: ''Do ye want me to do it with ma teeth in or ma teeth oot?''

And in my own final panto, I wrote a sketch in which Wally, supposedly, was trying to say one of his lines only apparently to lose his dentures. The laughter that was engendered as a result of

his brilliant sleight-of-hand, and his unbelievably comic feigned embarrassment, is still recalled by people I meet who refuse to believe that we had fooled them.

So take a bow, dear Wally.

We will always remember you, not only as a great performer, but, most of all, as a great human being.