HE has entertained children and their grown-ups at festivals, functions and fetes for more than 40 years, and taken his creator all over the world.

Now, Big Rory, the giant kilted Scotsman with a cheeky sense of humour, bagpipes and jaunty see-you-Jimmy hat, is hanging up his huge ghillie brogues with a “last hurrah” at the Barras this month.

Stiltwalking entertainer Mike Rowan, who dreamt up the popular character, says it will be a “bittersweet” moment.

Glasgow Times: Big Rory in full swing in GlasgowBig Rory in full swing in Glasgow (Image: Newsquest)

“I will be sad, but I’m 76 now, and it’s time to stop,” he says, smiling. “I do get a bit anxious before I get on the stilts these days.”

Surprisingly, Big Rory’s first proper gig was in Tel Aviv.

“I had a sensible job, running a community projects agency in Govanhill, helping young people in the arts,” explains Mike, who lives in the city centre.

“A friend was putting on a show in Tel Aviv and asked whether I fancied ‘being a Scotsman’ in it. I had learned how to stiltwalk, so I said, how about a giant Scotsman? And Big Rory was born.”

Glasgow Times: Big Rory has entertained people for more than 40 yearsBig Rory has entertained people for more than 40 years (Image: Newsquest)

He adds: “He has taken me to 38 countries, including, for a year of my life, Japan, and to the Olympics and the Commonwealth Games.

“The strangest moment was in Japan, when me and Wee Malky did a sketch involving him blowing his nose. He’d be sniffing and I’d pass him a hanky. However, under the hanky, he’d conceal a can of silly string which he then deposited on the head of an unfortunate person nearby.

“Everywhere else, it was hilarious, but in Japan, blowing your nose in public is about the most disgusting thing you could possibly do. We had about 350 people watching us, but after we did that sketch, they all disappeared."

He adds: "So we never did that again."

A huge highlight of Big Rory's 42-year career, says Mike, was the Glasgow Garden Festival in 1988.

Glasgow Times: A perplexed Margaret Thatcher, then Prime Minister, meeting Big Rory on a Glasgow Garden Festival walkabout in 1988A perplexed Margaret Thatcher, then Prime Minister, meeting Big Rory on a Glasgow Garden Festival walkabout in 1988 (Image: Newsquest)

The crowds loved him, although then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher looked less sure when she encountered him on a walkabout, and he even managed to “hi-jack” the Royal carriage in which Prince Charles and Princess Diana were travelling.

Mike told the Glasgow Times on the 20th anniversary of the festival: “I was pushing Wee Malky (my colleague John Brown, who also played Big Rory’s girlfriend Morag, in his pram.

Glasgow Times: Big Rory and Morag (Mike Rowan and John Brown)Big Rory and Morag (Mike Rowan and John Brown) (Image: Newsquest)

"I pushed the pram right up beside the royal horse and carriage and Malky gave Charles the flowers and said, ‘these are for your lady'."

He laughs: "You wouldn't get away with that now.

“The festival was wonderful, we were working five hours a day, seven days a week, and everyone had a great time.”

As Big Rory, Mike has visited New York, Sydney, Tokyo, Rio de Janeiro, Addis Ababa and Sri Lanka.

Glasgow Times: Mike Rowan, as Big Rory.Mike Rowan, as Big Rory. (Image: Newsquest)

“It has been a privilege to be Big Rory for so many years,” says Mike. “By making people laugh, we laugh ourselves, and that has been a wonderful thing.”

Mike runs street entertainment agency Surreal McCoy with his wife Rachael, who performs as Ochie, Big Rory’s mischievous dog. Ochie is also retiring, but some of the couple’s other famous characters, such as the Giant Seagulls and the Sniffer Dogs will continue.

“They are, at least, land-based,” says Mike, with a smile. “So if I do fall, I don’t have too far to go before I hit the ground….”

Big Rory will be at the Barras Market on August 19, from 12.30pm until 1.30pm.