BBC Scotland producer

BBC Scotland producer

Born: July 30, 1927; Died: November 12, 2014.

GORDON Menzies, who has died aged 87, was a radio and TV producer and director for BBC Scotland for 26 years, who was in charge of Scotland's first colour TV outside broadcast, the Tobermory Yacht Race, in 1968. He also produced the long-running comedy show Scotch and Wry.

One of the first BBC men to recognise the potential of video rather than film, he produced many sports and comedy videos, notably with his close friends the comedian Rikki Fulton, the golfer Tony Jacklin and the golf guru Peter Alliss.

Unconventional, visionary, something of a maverick and a broadcasting frontiersman, his BBC peers nicknamed him King Video. After retiring early from the BBC, he continued as a freelancer with his own one-man company GM Productions, to keep producing one of the video programmes he had created for the BBC in 1978, Scotch and Wry, starring Rikki Fulton.

Having started his career as a history teacher in East Lothian, Mr Menzies joined BBC radio in Edinburgh in 1960, switched to TV in 1962 and moved his family to Lenzie in 1963 to work at the broadcasters' Glasgow headquarters on Queen Margaret Drive. Among his most notable productions were the 10-part series In Search of Scotland and the Play Golf with Peter Alliss series. The golf series became a best-seller and Mr Alliss was wont to drive north in his Rolls-Royce (registration PUT 3) to visit his old friend Mr Menzies, notably at Letham Grange Golf and Country Club near Arbroath.

As for Scotch and Wry, although appearing only in Scotland on Hogmanay, it went platinum, rocketing to No. 1 in the UK charts and stayed there despite competition from such young English whippersnappers as Fawlty Towers. Everyone in Scotland had a favourite Scotch and Wry character, whether it be the Reverend IM Jolly, Supercop or the Gallowgate Gourmet.

Mr Menzies had started co-operating with Fulton in the 1960s. "It started with an experimental (pilot) programme, The Scotched Earth Show," Mr Menzies once said. "Here we had a wonderfully gifted comic actor whose talents were not being used to the full on television."

Scotched Earth soon begat Scotch and Wry, a Hogmanay treat for Scots but considered too rich to be aired more than once a year. It had the rare effect of emptying Scottish pubs before last orders and was watched by two million Scots, pretty much everyone who was not in a pram or a nursing home. Those two million were just the ones that watched it at original transmission time. Many more recorded it and it was soon popping up among the Scottish diaspora worldwide.

"It is unmistakably Scottish," Mr Menzies once said. "It deals with contemporary themes and it speaks to and for the people of Scotland. The Scots are proud of it, regard it as their own ... Above all, it has harnessed the unique comedy talent of Rikki, backed by a tremendous team of Gregor Fisher, Tony Roper and Claire Neilson. The show maintained high standards and never went for cheap, easy targets ... and it made Gregor Fisher a star in his own right.''

Mr Menzies, whose family always pronounced the name Mingis, was born in Pitlochry, Perthshire, in 1927, son of John Menzies, the popular local postman. He went to Breadalbane Academy in nearby Aberfeldy, developing a lifelong interest in golf as a schoolboy caddie. He was given a few tips by one of the local course's professional coaches, the legendary Ryder Cup player John Panton, also from Pitlochry.

Young Gordon gained a degree in history from the University of Edinburgh, where he played his beloved shinty and would commentate on it for the BBC in later years. After graduation, he started as a history teacher at Ross High School in Tranent, East Lothian.

Fascinated by broadcasting and realising it would be a key part of modern history, he joined BBC radio, moving to TV after two years and working at Queen Margaret Drive. His formal title was head of educational broadcasting for BBC Scotland TV. He was good at it, producing programmes such as Barbara Dickson in Concert and The Celts, about ancient culture rather than football, presented by the Irishman Frank Delaney. But he felt he had wider scope and decided to focus on his own agenda, simply subjects he loved, including golf and comedy.

In retirement, Mr Menzies continued to play at Lenzie Golf Club, where he played off a handicap of 14, was a past captain, and enjoyed a game of snooker. He was a curler at Cawder House Curling Club, playing most Mondays at the Braehead rink in Renfrew, as well as playing along with his wife as part of the Nondes club in the same area.

Mr Menzies took early retirement from the BBC in 1986, before he turned 60. He is survived by his wife Charlotte (née McAngus), children Gordon, Anne and Colin, grandchildren Neil, Mairi and Duncan, his brother Stanley and his sisters Joan and Evelyn.