Edinburgh panto legend Andy Gray was an incredible granddad, says daughter Clare
As those who knew Andy well will attest, one of his great passions in life was Batman. An obsession that Clare may not have inherited but one that appears to have skipped a generation.
"I never got it. I loved Buffy the Vampire Slayer the way dad was about Batman but I never got the comics. They just weren't for me but my daughter loves Batman, in fact today she was running about in one of dad's Batman masks that I have. She was doing the Batman voice then she pulled the mask down and went, 'It was me! It was me! It wasn't Batman.' So she is definitely carrying that on, which he would be delighted about."
Andy lived for his grand-daughter and was an "incredible granddad," reveals Clare.
"I was so proud to have been able to give him that. When she was born it was like he realised there had been something missing in his life and it was her. He just adored her. He was so proud of her, every video I sent him would be forwarded to the whole family and all his friends.
"Likewise she adored him, she still talks about him all time and is now asking, 'What happened to Baba?' At Christmas he and his partner Tamara wrote fairy-tales about Anna's year - Anna and the Magic Swan - it was a metaphor for her growing up. He'd write it and Tamara would craft it. That's the sad thing, you feel she has been robbed of that and he has been robbed of seeing her grow up. He only had two years with her."
As she looks forward to returning to the King's panto, Clare adds, "It'll be so tough for Allan and Grant this year. The fact that we are all going to be together will be a comfort for all of us. When we weren't together, dad and I used to always say we were on each other's shoulder. That's how I'll be thinking of it. I know he will be with me and that I'll feel his warmth."
She continues, "A couple of days after he had passed away I put on BBC Scotland and there was dad's face. It was City Lights. That was like a little, 'Hello, I'm okay' sort of thing and, not long ago, dad gave me it on DVD, so one day I'm going to sit down and watch it all. I'd also love to get hold of Naked Video to watch too.”
Again, she looks on having those recordings through a glass half full.
"People lose loved ones all the time but maybe only have pictures or home video of them. I have fantastic quality video and so much to look back on and show Anna when she is older, so I count myself as very lucky.”
As she prepares to continue Andy’s legacy for the millions who have watched him in the King’s panto through the years, Clare considers, "His legacy is joy, laughter and allowing you to forget your troubles for a couple of hours. To be able to give people that is so amazing. Sleeping Beauty will be a celebration. The panto was such a huge part of dad's life, he genuinely thought of everyone who was part of it as family and I'm delighted that I'm going to be a part of that again, it's what he would have wanted. He'll be looking down going, 'I should be on that stage.'
"He really was just such a wonderful father and such a support. Throughout everything, he was just there.”
Sleeping Beauty will run from November 27, 2021 to January 16, 2022, with tickets on sale now from www.capitaltheatres.com