He was in the spotlight for more than 40 years, a legend of Scottish stage and screen. 

Andy Gray, hailed as an "exceptional" actor and entertainer, has died at the age of 61 - leaving the Scottish entertainment industry devastated.

The Perth-born performer had previously been diagnosed with blood cancer in 2018, but returned to the stage to appear in the King's panto the following year. 

"National treasure" Gray, well known for his role as Chancer in the 1980s comedy City Lights, also starred in Naked Video, River City and was a beloved regular at the Edinburgh Festival - not to mention inimitable sidekick at the King's annual pantomime.

Unfortunately, his appearance at this year's panto was derailed when the pandemic saw it postponed, and plans to appear alongside co-star and friend Allan Stewart for a festive treat in Milton Keynes were also cancelled due to heightened lockdown restrictions.

Pantomime favourites and longtime friends and co-stars of Andy Gray - Allan Stewart and Grant Stott - have paid tribute.

Allan Stewart said: "Today a light went out in my life. My pal and panto partnery Andy Gray, has left the building. We have been working together for over twenty years and I will remember him for all the laughs we've had, on and off the stage.

"He was loved by so many people and I will miss him with all my heart. As he always said 'Cheerybumps' Andy."

Grant Stott added: "Today I, like so many others, am coming to terms with the loss of my dear friend, partner, Panto brother; Andy Gray.

"He was a huge part of every aspect of my life; personal, professional and family - he leaves a massive void that can never be filled. I count myself lucky that I was able to work and learn from him for more than 20 years and his support, generosity and encouragement to me has been an ever-present in all of that time.

"I will miss him terrible and, as heartbroken as I am, I know for a fact Andy would want us all to 'remember the laughs' of which there were many, both on and off stage - and usually at my expence. Rest in peace my big china."

Gayle Telfer Stevens, who played Caitlin McLean in River City – married on-screen to Andy’s character – said: “Andy was, and will remain, a national treasure.

“Not only was he an exceptional actor and entertainer who brought so much joy to so many people, he was an extraordinary man.

“When you were in his presence you could feel it was of greatness. The most beautiful man.

“One of the finest our country has ever had the pleasure to experience and we were so lucky to have had the time we did with you. Andy, you will be achingly missed. Your laugh will echo in Scotland’s heart and you will never be forgotten. Love you forever.”

Steve Carson, director of BBC Scotland, said: “We are deeply saddened by the news that one of Scotland’s much-loved comedy actors and close friend to many at BBC Scotland, Andy Gray, has passed away.

“Among many roles for the BBC he will always be lovingly remembered as audience favourites, the iconic Chancer in City Lights and the silver-tongued entertainer Pete Galloway in River City.

“On screen and in person he could always make you laugh and was one of the kindest people to have around on any production. Our thoughts are with his family at this difficult time.”

Martin McCardie, executive producer for River City, said: “Everyone at River City, all cast and crew are devastated to hear the extremely sad news that Andy Gray passed away this morning.

“When Andy joined River City in 2016 he had an extremely successful stage, TV and film career behind him, but the character of Pete Galloway turned out to be one of the most popular characters ever to pass through Shieldinch.

“His infectious enthusiasm for his work had an influence on all those who worked with him, he became a mainstay of the production, his trials and tribulations with the love of his life Caitlin McLean became some of the best material ever to be broadcast by the show.

“Andy took ill in 2018 and he had to leave the show and he had a difficult time. His ongoing recovery was borne with humour and gratitude for what he had, he had unfinished business on River City and we were looking forward to welcoming him back to film with us before the end of the current series.

“His loss will be felt throughout our production and he will never be forgotten by all who knew him, but that is nothing compared to the loss that his family and partner are feeling now. All our thoughts and sympathies are with them.”

Fellow River City star Tom Urie called Gray a "true gentleman" and a "huge loss to Scotland, in a sentiment echoed by culture secretary Fiona Hyslop who hailed him as "one of [Scotland's] best known sons of stage." 

The team at Capital Theatres, which is responsible for the Edinburgh's iconic King's Theatre pantomime, said: “It is with enormous sadness that we have heard of the passing of our dear colleague and panto star, Andy Gray. We are still reeling from the news and are all absolutely devastated.

"We will all remember Andy with love, a smile and affection for the many years of fun, friendship and brightness he brought to all our lives and the entertainment he gave to so many generations of panto-goers during his time at the King’s.

"The thoughts of everyone at Capital Theatres are with Andy’s family at this very sad time. Rest in peace, Andy.”

Perth Theatre, posting a picture from the archives of Gray, said: “Andy Gray got in touch at the beginning of the first lockdown last year to ask if he could help the theatre in any way and I jumped at the chance. I hugely enjoyed the brief contact I had with him.

"He was such a generous, supportive and warm man who had a thoroughly lovely gentle showmanship. He helped us out with a number of community events – our first Fun Palaces, a collective poem we’re making with Jim Mackintosh - and we were in conversation about bringing his sketch show Perth in the Buff back once restrictions allowed.

"I’m sorry to miss that opportunity and the chance to know Andy better. Andy was lovely to work with and this is a really sad loss to the Perth Theatre community and to audiences everywhere.”

In the words of Trainspotting star Robert Carlyle, Gray was one of the "loveliest, sweetest, funniest actors" he ever had the pleasure to work with.

He added: "So sad and such huge loss to his loving family and friends."

Meanwhile, Still Game star Sanjeev Kholi praised his "huge heart, huge brain, huge spirit, huge passion".

He said the actor will be "hugely missed".

Actor and director David Hayman, who knew Andy Gray for over 40 years, gave this touching tribute: "Andy Gray was an adorable, warm hearted, utterly charming human being who also happened to be a comic genius.

"Anyone who has sat in a theatre and been touched his magic as the tears of laughter rolled down their face will know what a great loss he is to us all. It is a tragedy he has died so young.

"He embellished life. He was one of the Good Guys. A light has gone from our lives with his passing."


First Minister Nicola Sturgeon also paid tribute.

She said: “So sad to hear this. Andy was a legend of the Scottish acting community, from City Lights, to panto, River City and so much more besides.

“He was also a funny and really lovely guy. He will be sorely missed by many. My condolences are with his family and friends.”