September 30, 1978
THE Reverend I M Jolly is one of Scotland’s favourite comedy creations.
But do you remember his fellow men of the cloth like The Very Rev A King Bones, Rev W E Free or Father Kevin Dullaly?
They all shared that green leather chair in the early days of Last Call, the famous monologue performed on the BBC’s legendaty sketch show Scotch & Wry.
Last Call was a parody of rival channel STV’s nightly epilogue, Late Call, and saw the late, great Rikki Fulton play a series of fictional clergymen.
But it was Rev I M Jolly, he of the monotone voice, dour face and eternally depressed state, that struck a chord with viewers.
From that first appearance in 1978, Jolly’s sketch became the show’s must-watch segment
and viewers couldn’t wait to find out why he’d “had a helluva year” each Hogmanay.
Maybe it says something about the Scottish psyche that we loved to bring in the bells with the dourest man in the world.
Or maybe it was because Rikki Fulton was a comedy genius who could draw guffaws with just a simple, jaded look.
At first the sketches were frowned upon by the Kirk and it was later revealed by his friend Tony Roper that Rikki himself didn’t think the sketches were funny – until he heard the reaction of the audience.
After Scotch & Wry finished in 1992, Jolly continued on in four specials on subsequent Hogmanays.
Even now, New Year just doesn’t seem the same without a wee chat from I M Jolly.