Robert Fyfe: Last of The Summer Wine actor’s proud links to Fife revealed

Tributes have been paid to the Kirkcaldy-born actor Robert Fyfe, who starred in the BBC comedy Last of The Summer Wine. He died at the age of 90.

By Allan Crow
Thursday, 23rd September 2021, 5:07 pm

He was best known for playing Howard in the much loved and long-running sitcom.

His family revealed this week that he remained hugely proud of his Fife roots - an ancient map of the Kingdom hung above the fireplace at his home.

And his passion for acting was sparked at Kirkcaldy High School.

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Robert Fyfe in the role of Howard in Last Of The Summer Wine (Pic: BBC)

Mr Fyfe was hailed as "a truly talented and versatile actor and much loved by everyone he worked with" by his agent, Maxine Hoffman who announced his passing.

Morris Bright, chairman of Elstree Studios, also paid tribute.

"Sad to hear Robert Fyfe has passed aged 90," he tweeted.

"The loveliest of people, we shared some very happy times on location for Last of the Summer Wine back in the late 1990s."

School days - Robert Fyfe pictured centre, front row, in his Kirkcaldy schooldays

Mr Fyfe joined the classic sitcom in 1985, and remained until its final episode in 2010.

In total, the show ran for a remarkable 31 seasons and featured stars such as Peter Sallis, Bill Owen and Brian Wilde along with Kathy Staff who played Norah Batty.

The shows were watched by audiences of millions.

Mr Fyfe also appeared in the first episode of Dr Finlay's Casebook in 1962 and was also seen in Coronation Street, Z Cars, Angels, The Onedin Line, Survivors, The Gentle Touch and Monarch of the Glen.

His film credits included The 51st State, Cloud Atlas and Babel.

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He was born in Kirkcaldy on September 25, 1930 and baptised at St Brycedale Church. His parents were Douglas, a watchmaker, and Mary, who lived at 44 Ava Street.

Kirkcaldy High school’s dramatic society sparked his passion for acting.

A 1948 review of a school production of Emlyn William’s ‘A Murder Has Been Arranged’ said: “His characterisation was immaculate.

“He seemed to me to live the part which is the sign of the true artiste. He had the audience in stitches with his gestures and expressions”.

He was joined in that production by his lifelong school friend, Jeane Mitchell. They were still in touch this year. Jeane Unwin, as she now is, lives in Cornwall, and they were both members of a Kirkcaldy-based drama group called the Blue Triangle Players.

Another passion which developed during his school years was classical music and singers in particular - he heard Kathleen Ferrier, Isobel Baillie and many others at the Adam Smith Theatre.

Mr Fyfe’s mum stayed in in Kirkcaldy long after her husband passed away in the early 1950 and he would return frequently when appearing in productions at the Royal Lyceum in Edinburgh.

His son Dominic said: “Later in life, he would also visit my brother Nicholas, who made his family home in Fife on Lucklawhill, Balmullo.

“Dad was hugely proud of his Fife origins and an ancient map of the Kingdom hangs above the fireplace at home. “

Mr Fyfe’s wife, Diana passed away just a few weeks before him, leaving sons Timothy, Nicholas and Dominic.

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