Stage and screen legend Stanley Baxter to get BAFTA Scotland lifetime achievement honour

Showbusiness legend Stanley Baxter is to receive a lifetime achievement honour from the film and TV industry in Scotland.

By Brian Ferguson
Tuesday, 17th November 2020, 9:48 am
Updated Tuesday, 17th November 2020, 3:56 pm
Stanley Baxter pictured recently with his new authorised biography at his home in London. Picture: David Holt
Stanley Baxter pictured recently with his new authorised biography at his home in London. Picture: David Holt

BAFTA Scotland has announced the Glasgow-born entertainer, whose stage and screen career spanned more than 70 years, will be recognised for an “outstanding contribution” next month.

Baxter, who was hailed today by BAFTA Scotland as “on of the true creative geniuses in British television light entertainment,” is expected to make a special appearance during the ceremony, which will be streamed live online.

Some of the biggest names in film and television are also expected to pay their own tributes to the 94-year-old, whose work was recognised by BAFTA in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.

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His award has been announced weeks after the publication of a long-awaited authorised biography of Baxter, one of Scotland’s best-known entertainers thanks to his long-running TV sketch shows and annual panto appearances.

There has been a huge outpouring of support for Baxter since it emerged that Baxter chose to lift the lid on his personal life in the book and decided to come out as gay. He told for the first time of his struggles to come to terms with his sexuality, his efforts to keep it secret and the effect his troubled marriage had on his life.

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Born in Glasgow in 1926, Baxter’s started out as an entertainer in the Army, where he met long-time friend and future star Kenneth Williams. A spell working. A spell working at the Citizens Theatre in Glasgow sparked a long stage career and he made his TV debut in 1952 on the BBC show Shop Window.

Stanley Baxter as Liberace in 1979. Picture: ITV/Shutterstock

A spokeswoman for BAFTA Scotland said: “It was The Stanley Baxter Show which aired on the BBC between 1963 and 1971 that

cemented his reputation and catapulted him to television stardom.

“During this time, he also demonstrated his incredible versatility with an assortment of other television work.

“It was and remains however, his incredible comedic performances that the legendary entertainer is most remembered, and in particular The Stanley Baxter Picture Show.

"Packed with lavish costumes and sets, Baxter's one-man tour-de-force performances became must-see television, attracting audiences of around 20 million.”

BAFTA Scotland will also be honouring long-time TV editor Phyllis Ironside with an outstanding achievement award for a career spanning more than 40 years at next month’s ceremony. Her credits rang from the Gaelic drama Gruth is Uachdar, thriller The Odd Job Man and Taggart to Omnibus and Imagine.

BAFTA Scotland director Jude MacLavey said: “We are delighted to be presenting this year’s outstanding contribution awards to two exceptional recipients, each representing outstanding talent in their fields.

“Stanley Baxter is one of the true creative geniuses in British television light entertainment, who combined superbly observed, written and performed comedy in a truly unique and unforgettable style.

“Phyllis Ironside is a highly respected member of the industry in Scotland, renowned for her editing skills as well as her integrity with her CV reflecting the best of programming making in Scotland.

"Both Stanley Baxter and Phyllis Ironside, have created work that is not only recognised by their peers and the public, but that has also inspired future generations of film and television makers. We are honoured to present the awards and look forward to recognising their outstanding achievements.”