Aptly, one of Scotland's best loved and most distinguished entertainers is leaving the stage with a smile.

Announcing that he is retiring aged 88, Johnny Beattie said he realised he is now almost as old as one of his jokes.

Leaving television, stage, radio and film after a career spanning more than 60 years, the last role Beattie has played, that of Malcolm Hamilton in the BBC soap River City, is also coming to a close after 13 years.

Beattie, described as a "national treasure", is retiring to his home on Rothesay and will also leave the drama after 13 years.

His final storyline will centre on Malcolm's ailing health due to vascular dementia and his last scenes, perhaps the last piece of entertainment offered to the public by Beattie, will be filmed on April 3 for broadcast in June.

Govan-born Beattie was awarded an MBE in the 2007 for services to entertainment.

His career has included variety, stand-up comedy, TV and film roles and quiz shows as well as pantomime dames.

He is considered to be among the most important figures on the comedy scene alongside Rikki Fulton, Jack Milroy and Stanley Baxter.

The 1960s saw the broadcast of Johnny Beattie's Saturday Night Show which ran until 1970 and his screen roles have included the movie The Big Man with Billy Connolly and Liam Neeson, Taggart, Rab C Nesbitt and Scotch & Wry.

Beattie said: "I've had a great time on River City over the last 13 years.

"But when I read about the boy, Zayn, from One Direction leaving I thought maybe it was time for me to go.

"You see, now that I'm 88, I'm nearly as old as my gags."

He added: "I'm one of the original River City cast members and I've had a wonderful time working with great people who have become lifelong friends.

"It's strange to say goodbye to Malcolm but the time is right for me.

"River City, its cast and crew, hold a very dear place in my heart - I'm going to miss them all."

Una McLean, the Scottish actress and comedian, who also appears in River City, said: "I've known Johnny for such a long time.

"We first met in the 1960s and over the years we've worked together on various things and the Beattie family have become good friends of ours."

She added: "Johnny's a great blether and joke teller, in fact I often say to him "you open the fridge door and do 40 minutes!" - he loves that.

"Johnny will be missed on the River City set, he's worked so hard throughout his career this is now his time.

"He has loads of friends and family so it'll be nice for him to relax and spend some more time in his beloved Rothesay."

Producer Donald MacKinnon said: "Johnny has been at the heart of the show from the very start and will be sorely missed by all cast and crew.

"A terrific storyteller, Johnny always had a tale to tell about his vast career and was a real joy to have on set.

"Everyone at River City wishes him a happy retirement and he's always welcome to pop back to Shieldinch anytime."

Deirdre Davis plays the actor's on-screen daughter Eileen, and she said: "Johnny Beattie was a national treasure before he came to River City but through the character of Malcolm Hamilton, he's created someone truly unique."

"Malcolm is everyone's favourite dad and granddad - I wish he was my dad in real life."

"As soon as he appeared on screen, viewers took Malcolm to their hearts.

"I really don't want to think what it will be like not working with Johnny again - it's real heartbreak. Johnny is such a lovely man - you know when he's in the building because everyone stops what they're doing to chat to him."

Eileen McCallum, who plays Malcolm's wife Liz, said: "It's been a pure joy all these years working with Johnny and what a marvellous company member he's been - always interested in people's lives and always has a joke to tell."

"Our journeys back and forth to Dumbarton were often together so I'm going to miss him terribly. It's going to be a very emotional week."