Obituary: Iain Anders

Iain Anders Robertson (Iain Anders), actor and legal executive: born London 8 February 1933; married; died Chichester, West Sussex 5 September 1997.

As Superintendent Jack McVitie - nicknamed "The Biscuit" - the character actor Iain Anders was a familiar face to millions of television viewers in Taggart, the gritty police series set on the streets of Glasgow. He was often seen battling with the grim-faced Detective Chief Inspector Jim Taggart, played by Mark McManus, although the series' popularity ensured its continuation after McManus's death three years ago.

During his early years in Taggart, Anders was himself sour-faced, but he later revealed a sense of humour and once appeared on the scene of a crime dressed as a Chinese mandarin after being called out as he was preparing to attend a fancy-dress party.

Grappling with the law was part of the actor's life on screen and off. Alongside his stage and screen career, Anders - born Iain Anders Robertson, of Scottish ancestry, in London in 1933 - worked as a legal executive in a leading south London firm of criminal lawyers, preparing briefs for the barristers defending its clients in court. "The policemen I meet in my legal work tend to look puzzled and then assume I must have worked as a real policeman before," he once said.

Crime seemed a constant part of both careers. Before joining Taggart, Anders frequently appeared on television as both policemen and villains, in series such as Z Cars, Softly Softly, Shoestring and Juliet Bravo. He also acted in programmes that included A Horseman Riding By, A Family Affair, Diana, A Family Man, Through a Strange Land, Jessie and Hi-de- Hi! and, during the Fifties and Sixties, performed on stage during seasons at the Byre Theatre, St Andrews, the Gateway Theatre, Edinburgh, the Queen's Theatre, Hornchurch, the Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham, and the Salisbury Playhouse.

Although Anders did not appear in Killer, the 1983 mini-series that launched Mark McManus's character of Taggart, the actor joined the resulting Taggart series (1985-) from its second, three-part story, Murder in Season (1985), which featured Isla Blair as an opera singer falsely suspected of murdering her ex-husband's new girlfriend. It attracted more than 10 million viewers in Britain, ensuring it a regular place on the ITV network.

Glenn Chandler's tough Glasgow policeman had been watched over by Superintendent Murray - known as "The Mint" - during the previous stories. But, when the actor Tom Watson decided not to continue in the role, Anders was brought in as Superintendent McVitie, "The Biscuit". The series, which is Scottish Television's most successful programme and has been screened in more than 40 countries, soon became noted for its gritty realism and location shooting on the streets of Glasgow. Anders's character mellowed over the years into a wise-cracking boss to the tough and cynical Taggart, often showing a humane side to his nature, such as on his discovery that a police officer was homosexual.

Anders is due to be seen in three Taggart stories still to be screened.

-

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager - OTE £50,000

£18000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is recruiting for ...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Manager / Account Manager

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This B2B software supplier, spe...

Recruitment Genius: Systems Application Analyst - Data, SQL

£22000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing SaaS (Softwar...

Recruitment Genius: Events Consultant

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A position has arisen for an ex...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence