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Celebrated artist, playwright and creator of Bafta-winning Tutti Frutti, John Byrne, dies aged 83

By Philip Murray

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Artist and writer John Byrne at Culloden House Hotel. Picture: Gary Anthony.
Artist and writer John Byrne at Culloden House Hotel. Picture: Gary Anthony.

Tributes have been flooding in for famous Nairn resident John Byrne – the acclaimed artist and Bafta-winning playwright behind the iconic TV drama Tutti Frutti – after he passed away.

Mr Byrne, who was 83, died peacefully with his wife Jeanine by his side on St Andrew's Day, it was announced on Friday.

Born in Paisley and trained at the Glasgow School of Art, he became a professional painter in 1968 and during his long career also designed everything from Penguin Book jacket covers to record covers for the likes of the Beatles and Donovan. His portraits also included a number of famous faces, including Billy Connolly.
His paintings adorn the Museum of Modern Art, the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, and the Kelvingrove Art Gallery.

His celebrated work as a playwright included the Slab Boys trilogy, the first of which made its way to the stage in 1978.

And his TV work included the creation of famous TV drama Tutti Frutti – starring Robbie Coltrane and Emma Thompson – which won him a Bafta in 1987.

He was married twice, first to Alice Simpson in 1964 and later to Jeanne Davies in 2014. One of his former partners was celebrated Hollywood actress Tilda Swinton, who he dated from 1989 until 2003.

First Minister Humza Yousaf is among those to have paid tribute following news of his passing.

"There are not the words to do justice to the talents of John Byrne," he said. "An extraordinary playwright, artist and designer. Scotland has lost a cultural icon, and the world is less brighter with his passing."

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