LOVE lies bleeding so profusely all over the Shieldinch tarmac you can almost imagine Elton singing his classic lament while staring out the window of the Oyster Café.

Yes, River City’s greatest lover Gabriel Brodie is set to depart for that great love island in the sky.

Over the nine years he’s been a central character in the show, Gabriel, played by Garry Sweeney, has broken a series of hearts.

Now, it’s his own heart that’s taking the blow, thanks to the misaimed thud of a madman’s bullet.

“I’ve been in the series on and off for nine years now,” says the actor, “and when the producers came to me and told me about this story idea I figured it was a good way to go.

“As we know Dougie, who is Scarlett’s partner, has been losing the plot.

“Gabriel tries to talk him around – but it all goes horribly wrong.”

Garry points out that the episode in which Gabriel tries to save Scarlett and takes the hit is essentially a rewind of Gabriel’s greatest hits.

“As Gabriel drifts in an out of consciousness, he thinks of the loves of his life. The memories come flooding back to him.”

Gabriel Brodie, as viewers will know, has been something of a bad boy.

Viewers have seen him become caught up in the criminal empire of Billy Kennedy and Lenny Murdoch, while sleeping with Billy’s wife Mandy.

He previously had a fling with Leyla, the wife of his GP brother Michael.

Is there anyone he hasn’t had an affair with? “Well, I think it’s hard to find anyone,” he says, laughing, “although he managed not to have an affair with Old Liz, played by Eileen McCallum, although if she’d stayed on who knows?”

Gabriel however is more of a romantic than a womaniser, always searching for true love.

He found it in fact with Kelly-Marie, (Carmen Pieraccini) but it was short-lived.

Kelly -Marie ran off an left him to raise the children, Michaela and Callum.

“That’s right,” says Garry, recalling the fun he’s had playing a character who’s enjoyed and endured so many highs and lows.

And those empotional highs and lows will be told in a series of flashbacks.

“They will be going all the way back nine years when he had the fling with Layla.”

Garry Sweeney has loved his stint on the soap.

But he won’t be entirely sorry to leave River City behind for ever.

“It’s time to go,” he says, smiling.

“The first time I left was in a taxi. Now, it’s going to be very different.

Yet, the fact he’s leaving in the back of a hearse this time suggests finality?

“Not unless the scriptwriters come up with a Bobby Ewing-type plot,” he says, grinning. “And I don’t think that’s going to happen.”

The actor is sanguine about his soap TV fate.

“There is only so far the writers can go with a character.

“And I’m 46 now and you can’t play the Romeo forever. And when I returned the last time I felt I didn’t just want to prop up the bar or say hello to the people in the street.”

He admits that with soap television there is always future uncertainty.

“That’s definitely the case. And when you realise there isn’t a lot happening with your storylines, you see the writing is in fact on the wall.”

He adds; “Apart from the finance side it means I can get on with my career.

There is an added factor in Garry’s acceptance of being written out.

“When I came back the last time my son had just been born. Before that I was a carefree actor, with only myself to look after.

“Coming back for a few years has at least given me that wee bit of security.

“But my wee boy is going to school next year and things are more settled in that way so leaving the show allows me to get stuck into other things.”

Garry, who grew up in the south side of Glasgow, loved drama at Holyrood School but didn’t leap immediately onto the professional stage.

“I had a great drama teacher who encouraged me, but on leaving school I went off to Torquay and worked as a baker for a while.

Why? Summer madness?“Yes. I wanted to get out of Glasgow and be a 17 year-old who had the chance to enjoy himself.

“This was my equivalent of the gap year. It’s about having a wee bit o adventure in life.”

He came back and realised acting was the future – and studied at Langside College.

Garry landed a role in David Hayman’s cult noir film The Near Room and loved every minute of the experience.

And when he made the cut for the cast of movie Small Faces, playing a gang leader and working alongside his River City chum Iain Robertson, he knew he’d made the right decision.

“I’ve enjoyed playing the bad boys over the years.

“ I’ve played a lot of characters who are on the dark side. And it’s been a lot of fun.

“But with Gabriel I’d say he was one of the nicest guys I’ve played. In fact, he ended up calling the cops on at least three people.”

Garry is looking to the future. “I’ve been helping to devise a play, which was staged at Oran Mor, and the idea is to dry and develop new theatre ideas.

“You can’t sit back these days. You have make things happen for yourself and that’s exactly what I plan to do.”

What does he hope for in the reaction to his final appearance as the soon-to-be angel Gabriel?

He grins; “What you’re hoping for is the audience will be greetin’ hard and saying ‘Oh, that’s a total sin for Gabriel. They should never have killed him off’.”

River City, Monday BBC Scotland Channel, 10.00pm and Tuesday, BBC One Scotland at 8.00pm.