Scottish actor Maurice Roeves dies aged 83

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Maurice Roeves played the villain Robert in Scottish television drama River City alongside Johnny Beattie and Jayd Johnson

Scottish actor Maurice Roeves – known for playing villains and hard men – has died at the age of 83.

In a career spanning six decades, he acted in hundreds of TV shows and films including The Sweeney, Star Trek, The Eagle Has Landed and Tutti Frutti.

Born in Sunderland, the actor was brought up in Glasgow and launched his career at the city’s Citizen’s Theatre.

He also performed roles in Eastenders, River City, Dr Who and Irvine Welsh’s The Acid House.

Roeves’ most recent role was a small part in the 2020 BBC television drama The Nest.

His wife Vanessa Roeves told the BBC that he had been in ill health for some time.

A real life softie

Despite playing tough characters on screen, Vanessa said Roeves was a “softie” in real life and that no part was too small for her husband.

She said he was keen to be involved in his last project, despite the small appearance.

And when Tutti Frutti was played on the launch of the BBC Scotland Channel, she said Roeves was delighted at having come “full circle”.

Vanessa also said that the family would often joke, “Does your character make it to the end of this one?” because his characters would always be killed off.

However, Roeves found success at a time where lots of working class actors were just managing to break through into the mainstream, such as Albert Finney and Richard Harris.

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One of the hard man characters he played was the sinister McGurn (left) in the comedy series ‘Rab C Nesbitt’

From sweeping floors to film roles

The Roeves’ family moved to Glasgow when he was seven years old as his father had a cotton mill in Partick.

He went to school in the city and when he left full time education he took an an office job to earn money.

But he returned to his studies and secured a place at the then Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama which is now the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. While there he won a gold medal for his acting.

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Maurice Roeves as Stotz in the Dr Who adventure The Caves of Androzani

After graduating he got a job at the Citizens Theatre as an Assistant Stage Manager but found himself playing small roles in between sweeping the stage floor.

His first major role was as Lorenzo in the Shakespeare’s the Merchant of Venice when apparently screaming fans would gather at the stage door after the show to catch a glimpse of Maurice.

Following this performance Disney sent a scout to Glasgow to see Roeves perform in the Merchant of Venice.

He was then screen tested and offered his first film role, marking his debut in a career that would stretch more than 60 years of television and film.

Roeves’ film debut was in the 1966 The Fighting Prince of Donegal, where he played the Irishman.

Despite launching his film career, he continued in theatre roles.

His next major role was in Macbeth at the Royal Court in London where he played Macduff next to Sir Alec Guinness’ Macbeth.

An off-screen friendship

One memorable Holywood screen role for Roeves was in Last of the Mohicans acting beside Daniel-Day Lewis and Wes Studi.

Studi played Magua, a native American villain who ripped the heart out of Col Edmund Munro, played by Roeves.

His friendship with Wes Studi lasted for more than 25 years and they met often near Wes’s home in Santa Fe. Studi even said on social media that they shared haggis together.