The daughter of the late actor Andy Gray has said a special episode dedicated to his River City character this week feels like a “proper memorial for him”. 

Clare Gray revealed that only limited numbers could attend her father’s funeral due to covid restrictions last year as she praised the BBC soap’s latest storyline which sees the Shieldinch stars learn of the death of Elvis obsessed loveable rogue Pete Galloway.

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The actress, pictured above, said: “It just said everything about my dad and how he was thought of at River City that they would like to do something in his memory. We were all very touched. 

“We are very lucky. Not everyone when they lose a loved one has visual memories that they can look back on but with dad, we have got so many of those.

“This is such a special thing that I will always be able to look back on and watch, and show my daughter when she is older.”

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She added: “A lot of his friends are part of it and not everyone could be at the funeral, we could only have 12 people. It was a way for his friends at River City to be able to say goodbye.

“It felt like it was a proper memorial for him. It is lovely we are so happy that they did it for him.”

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Former City Lights actor Andy left the show in 2018 after he was diagnosed with MDS (myelodysplastic syndromes, a form of leukaemia). He died on January 18 last year at the of age 61 after contracting coronavirus.

Aside from his small-screen fame, he was adored by panto audiences in Edinburgh’s King’s Theatre where he starred with longtime pal Grant Stott who recently joined the soap as Sam Spiller, the long-lost father of Stevie O’Hara (Iain Robertson).

And although Grant’s character Sam never met Andy’s Pete, he still takes centre stage in this emotional episode.

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“The two characters never met so for them to write me in was absolutely lovely I was really taken aback by it,” said the 54-year-old.

He continued: “Andy would have loved the fact he was getting a tribute episode for his character and for me to be in it.

“It just underlines how Andy was thought of by the team at River City. 

“He was such a larger than life character and he had this gift of making everybody that he came into contact with feel special.

“When he died that touched so many people. This episode says that and it just underlines how well he was thought of.”

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Expect to get the hankies out for the one-hour episode which pays tribute to Andy with subtle nods to the things he loved in life from his Batman obsession to the music of Bobby Darin. 

“For those of us who knew Andy and those of us who were fans of Andy, there are lots of little touches throughout the entire episode that people will pick on.  

“It is going to be lovely to see how many people pick that up and spot them,” said Grant. 

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Grant revealed being part of River City has been like a dream come true after joining the soap last year.

He praised Andy, who he first formed a friendship with after meeting at a panto party in the 1990s, for helping him with his career. 

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He said: “I would like to think that he is proud of his big china (fondly using the affection rhyming slang for mate) who finally got there because we did talk a lot together about me coming onto River City and if I could come on as Pete’s younger, better-looking brother. 

“It obviously for whatever reason didn’t happen at that time. I do feel that it happened because of Andy.

“He took me under his wing and we did all these plays together at the festival which gave me this amazing sort of learning platform on skills of acting.

“It was like having a masterclass with Andy Gray every time we went into the rehearsal room or were on stage at the Fringe.

“He was a massive part of me growing and learning as an actor which then led to this.

“He played no small part in me being where I am now. He’s hugely responsible for this I credit and thank him every day.”

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He added: “This is an opportunity I wanted since I was a teenager doing drama, this is absolutely what I wanted to do, where I wanted to be.

“For a long time I never ever thought it was going to happen so for it to happen now I am loving every minute of it.”

Those skills that Grant acquired through his Andy masterclasses were put to the test during the filming of the episode which sees Sam pay tribute to Pete.

“I couldn’t let myself get emotional. Normally in a scene like that it would be great for the performance but I had to fight against what I was naturally feeling and me thinking about Andy made it doubly difficult.

“There is a moment where I was just about away which they kept in.

“Andy was with us. I just felt he was there, he was on the set with us that day.

“It’s just a lovely thing to be part of and to give him a send of like that," he said. 

Clare said she loved the episode before adding, “It was tough.

“It is going to be a year this week (since Andy’s death) which I still can’t get my head around.

“The quickest year ever. It has still not sunk in so for it to be a year makes no sense to me. 

“It was just so special and because of the people that were involved in it.”

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She added that she wanted her father to be remembered as “the funny big-hearted man that he was.”

She said: “(He was) so talented as well as a comedy actor, he was a fantastic straight actor.

“He made people laugh, that was such a special thing to be able to do.

“He was such a kind person, so giving and had time for anyone.

“Dad adored being part of the River City family he really did. 

“He just loved it. He met so many people and they became very important in his life and I know he was really thankful for that.”

River City airs tomorrow on BBC Scotland at 10pm and on Tuesday on BBC One at 7pm.