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Malcolm Morton

Malcolm Morton, who has died aged 76, was one of Scottish theatre’s most accomplished backstage masters.

He had worked all over Scotland as stage manager at major theatres – Glasgow’s Pavilion and King’s, Dundee’s Palace and Rep, Ayr’s Gaiety among them – and for nearly two decades before retiring he was with Scottish Television on the sets of the High Road.

His heart lay in theatre. Even in retirement when he was afflicted by ill health, he would travel the country to see both professional and amateur shows and would enthuse about the atmosphere, the excitement and the glamour.

He lived latterly in the village of Symington, by Kilmarnock, but his theatrical origins were in Rutherglen and he had contemporary memories of people such as the young brother and sister who became professionally known as Stanley Baxter and Alice Dale.

Friendships with stage performers were many and included such luminaries as Dorothy Squires, with whom he toured in Scotland. He knew so many people in the business and privately had recorded numerous performances by them.

The impresario and comedian Ronnie Coburn, whose theatrical background was technical initially, knew Morton well.

He said: “Malcolm was technically the backbone of Scottish variety theatre, more important to its survival than many of the stars. He lived the business and worked, not for wages, but in the pursuit of his artistic aims. I have known him to work literally all through the night to complete the building of a set. He went more than the extra mile. As a set designer and builder he was very inventive and I remember his favourite colours were blue and yellow. He was very reliable and totally unflappable. He could not be panicked and even in the direst emergency he would respond with his trademark saying, ‘I’ll be with you in a moment’. Malcolm was a great character, a one-off.”

Malcolm Morton is survived by an elder sister and nephews in Canada.

John Moore

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