SIR Peter Ustinov, who died aged 82 in March 2004, was a man of many substantial talents: playwright, Oscar-winning actor, film director, novelist, and much-loved raconteur.

“His career”, said the obituary in the Guardian, “was like a firework display which never seemed to end.

“The highest-rising rockets and the great, all-illuminating Roman candles ran out eventually, but the squibs and firecrackers were still entertaining; and the occasional extravagant set-pieces remained gorgeous”.

Ustinov made his London stage debut at the age of 18; by the time the photograph above was taken, in August 1949, he was an established dramatist.

His latest play, The Man in the Raincoat, had its first performance at Edinburgh’s Lyceum Theatre on August 29; Ustinov is seen in rehearsal with co-star Mary Ellis.

This paper’s drama critic observed that the play had a certain superficial resemblance to T.S. Eliot’s comedy, The Cocktail Party, which had graced the same venue only the previous week: “Here again the story deals with a couple whose marriage is breaking up, but in a more conventional triangle situation”.

Some 19 years and many other career landmarks later, Ustinov was photographed trying his hand at the bagpipes, shortly before being installed by the Queen Mother as the first rector of Dundee University, in October 1968.

In the Caird Hall he gave an eloquent, inspirational address, touching on the natural inclination of the young to be revolutionary, the stockpiling of nuclear weapons (“the grim fact is that the men in charge of them are as mediocre as those who invented them are brilliant”), the concept of power, and the Vietnam war. “He was in no mood,” the Herald observed, “merely to entertain”.

Read more: Herald Diary