THE writer of the iconic Scottish sitcom Rab C Nesbitt has revealed that his own uncle was the inspiration for the loveable drunken Govan rogue.

Ian Pattison cites his Uncle Bernie as the man who helped form Nesbitt, played by Gregor Fisher as a string-vest-wearing street philosopher.

“There are all sorts of influences that flutter through your head when writing but in the early days some would more than others,” Pattison said. “Bernie was a Govan man, innately, with all the attributes and flaws contained therein and I used to always enjoy his company. There was a crackle in the air when he was around, a witty edge, and you had to be on your game. He could see the comic possibilities in the otherwise mundane and he alerted you to the potential of the everyday. That certainly rubbed off on me.”

Rab C Nesbitt attracted huge popularity during a ten series run between 1988 and 2011 that centred on his drunken exploits with pals like Jamesie Cotter and his volatile but loving relationship with his long suffering wife, Mary Doll. But what really made the series stand out was Rab's gift of the gab.

Pattison's Uncle Bernie was also a man with a silver tongue - like Rab he had the brains to make a good life for himself if he wanted, had he not preferred, more often than not, to go to the pub, just like the character he inspired.

“He was clearly intelligent but had no peer group to spur him on,” said Pattison, of his maternal uncle. “He had gifts and had he been middle class they might have been cultivated more assiduously, and he would have gone to university. But it transpired he would often be with the police, usually after a spirited debate had spiralled out of control in the Beauty Parlour [which was Bernie’s own description for the local pub]."

In an exclusive interview with the Sunday Herald, Pattison also reveals that, like his characters, he too struggled with life in his native Govan - particularly the sense with the containment and class control. But he said that when the Swinging Sixties arrived it brought a new spirit of adventure and hope.

After a period of dead-end jobs, he took off to London and found the confidence to write.

Gradually, Pattison’s writing began to take shape, a dark shape at times, but soon he learned he had to at least attempt to write comedy.

It’s not too great a surprise, he notes looking back, that his acerbic, sometimes twisted take on life which feeds his sense of fun, had first been fed to him by Uncle Bernie.

In the series, while begging on the streets of Glasgow during the City of Culture year in 1990, Rab offers up an ironic smile as he holds out cupped hands and says: “Ten pence for a cappuccino.” It's the kind of line inspired by his uncle's wit.

Rab C Nesbitt last appeared on our screens three years ago in a one-off show. Now, his creator is making a new radio programme exploring his own connection with Govan and the influences the area had on him.

But is this Rab’s epitaph? Will he appear on screen again? The writer hints in our Sunday Life magazine cover story that Nesbitt - and in many ways the spirit of Uncle Bernie – will live on for some time yet.

• I Will Tell You This! My Life With Rab C Nesbitt, Radio Scotland, Christmas Day, 12.45.