Alex McAvoy, the Scots-born actor and mime artist best known for his role as Sunny Jim in TV comedy drama The Vital Spark, died in London aged 77 on June 16.
Born on March 10, 1928, he was destined to become an actor but enhanced his love of the artistic by enrolling at the School of Art in Glasgow’s Renfrew Street.
In the fifties, he joined the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow. The burgeoning Citizens’ Theatre in the Gorbals needed trained actors and the young McAvoy found himself alongside such future stars as John Cairney and Mary Marquis. He went on to take a variety of parts, from character roles in Z Cars and Dad’s Army to meaty parts in Sunday night dramas.
In the earlier part of his career McAvoy ventured into variety and light entertainment and was the first foil to Scottish comedy singer Andy Stewart. The summer show promoter George B Bowie envisaged him as a future star comedian, and headlined him in the holiday season revue of 1963 at the Barrfields Pavilion, Largs.
McAvoy’s role as the Teacher made him a familiar face from Pink Floyd’s The Wall, the cult 1982 cult film featuring Bob Geldof as a burnt-out rock star.
His love of mime was intense, and he made a mark in the busy world of Scottish pantomime, with featured roles at the King’s Theatres in both Glasgow and Edinburgh.
He achieved a long-held ambition when he went to Paris to study and work in L’Ecole de Jacques LeCoq. He became deeply immersed in the international world of mime and right up to his death was still in touch with that famous school.
He had been ill from leukaemia for some years but retained his link with live theatre and, before being hospitalised, had taken a cameo part on the London stage.