Although seen only once across the entire BBC network, Scotch And Wry was a hugely popular BBC Scotland show which ran for 14 years and, at its peak, was watched by over two million people there. The population of Scotland is just over four million: allowing for the very young, the very old and the feeble-minded, this represented virtually everyone with a television set. When issued on video, sales of Scotch And Wry surpassed those of even the evergreen Fawlty Towers.

Scotch And Wry developed from The Scotched Earth Show, made for New Year's Day 1977, a one-off trawl through humorous Scottish writing, drawing upon books, plays and quotations. Rikki Fulton starred. At this point, Fulton hadn't been seen much on television since his STV series Francie And Josie (see below), but he was soon back with Scotch and Wry, launched on 30 September 1978. This was a traditional sketch show and featured much unused material from The Two Ronnies, augmented by contributions by John Byrne, later to script Tutti Frutti. The second series, in which Gregor Fisher was added to the cast, utilised material by further London-based writers. After this the show lived on via a succession of Hogmanay specials; Fisher dropped out once Rab C Nesbitt began to dominate his career, and the London writers also phased themselves out, to be replaced with the newer generation of Scottish writers (Bob Black, Phillip Differ, Neil MacVicar, Niall Clark and others) who were coming through from Naked Radio (see Naked Video), A Kick Up the Eighties and other shows.

Stand out characters in almost every Scotch And Wry included Supercop, an idiot motorcycle policeman whose catchphrase was 'Alright Stirling, oot the car' and whose goggles would spring off his helmet; Dirty Dickie Dandruff; Gallowgate Gourmet, the unbelievably unhygienic TV chef; and McGlinchey, a colourful wide-boy. The show always concluded with 'Last Call', an Epilogue-style address to the nation from the lugubrious, if not clinically depressed, Presbyterian minister the Reverend I M Jolly - actually a spoof of STV's Late Call. Jolly was easily the most popular character in the show and at Christmas 1993 he was spun off into a longer format with 'Tis The Season To Be Jolly. Two further such festive specials resulted, Jolly: A Man For All Seasons (1994) and The Life Of Jolly (1995) - each concluding with an epilogue. (Bob Black wrote the narrative scripts and Rikki Fulton the address to the nation.) Jolly made one last appearance in 1999, taking Scotland into the new millennium with It's A Jolly Life, a highlights compilation fleshed out with a new address.

*Notes. The 1982 special was the only edition of Scotch And Wry seen throughout Britain; it was networked by BBC1 24 hours later, on New Year's Day 1983 (11.20-12.00pm). It follows that all of the dates specified in this entry refer to BBC1 Scotland transmissions.

Prior to Scotch And Wry, Rikki Fulton was best known for his famous-in-Scotland double-act with Jack Milroy as Glaswegian wide-boy characters Francie (Milroy) and Josie (Fulton), the latter a self-confident, self-styled expert with a misused monumental vocabulary, the former excitable, intense, hungry to share Josie's knowledge and intellect. As well as a decade of stage performances from 1960, the crepe-soled crusaders starred in their own Scottish Television sitcom, launched in 1962 and massively popular in its Wednesday-night slot there and also in Ireland and the north of England. In 1965, after Francie and Josie ended, STV gave them their own programmes, Rikki and The Jack Milroy Show. Milroy died on 1 February 2001, aged 85.