ACTOR Freddie Boardley, like so many talented people this year, has fallen to the deathly ravages of 2016, aged 66.

Rab C. Nesbitt writer Ian Pattison, who created the 1996 comedy drama Bad Boys specifically for Freddie, pays tribute to his chum.

“I first met Freddie Boardley in a Glasgow bar during Mayfest, 1988,” says Ian.

“I liked Freddie immediately. He was gallus and totally deadpan.

“He smiled so seldom it was as though his face charged him money. He looked like the kind of guy who’d spin you round on the waltzer while seducing your sister at the same time.

“Luckily, I don’t have a sister, or a waltzer, so the theory was never put to the test.”

Freddie Boardley was a success in Bad Boys, starring alongside Londoner Karl Howman. Ian Pattison had noted the pair’s on-screen chemistry in an ad for McEwan’s Export in which they played ex-cons.

Freddie, in fact, played a series of bad boys throughout his career.

Yet while he was a party animal and the West End of Glasgow his private enclosure, he was certainly our very own Oliver Reed - but without the aggression.

The capacity to look malevolent simply highlighted how good an actor he could be.

“Cops stop me all the time,’’ he once recalled. “When I walk home from the pub at night in the West End they recognise my face and think I’m a gangster. It’s an occupational hazard.’’

But it’s no surprise many casting agents saw great potential in the mean, moody-looking Scot, placing him in national soaps such as Take The High Road, Coronation Street and Brookside.

However, Freddie was often hired as much for his likeability as his talent.

Alex Norton and Sandy Morton became close pals, as did Brian Cox. John Byrne loved him, casting him in several of his plays, including The Slab Boys.

Director Bill Bryden hired Freddie to star in cult promenade productions of The Ship, and the Big Picnic.

And Freddie appeared in THREE episodes of Rab C. Nesbit. Ian Pattison recalls the characters he wrote for Freddie.

“His first Nesbitt saw him play an assistant to the Lord Provost, in the next he played the Lord Provost and then he was an underworld hit man.”

The writer adds, smiling; “Each time he was becoming more respectable.”

Growing up in Ayr, young Freddie Boardley never figured he would become an actor.

His father, Ivan Boardley expected his only son (he had three daughters) to join him in the family fishing business.

But the teenager with the film star looks and multi-screen sized insouciance was hardly going to contain himself to a boat boat.

Oddly, a stint in Agricultural College was followed by a slightly longer, and even more bewildering appearance, in the Army.

“Freddie joined because he liked the idea of wearing the uniform,” says his sister, Lynn Stenson. “But he hated being told what to do. It was no real surprise when my dad had to pay to get him out.”

The decision to study acting came about one night in a pub when it was revealed to him the RSAMD was the perfect place to meet girls.

Freddie graduated in 1974 and went on to join the prestigious National Theatre for five years, appearing with John Hurt.

“John liked me,” Freddie once recalled. “I think it was I because I could drink as much as him.”

But the Boardley bouts of hedonism certainly didn’t get in the way of his ability to perform and he picked up great reviews for cerebral theatre work such as Pirandello’s Six Characters In Search Of An Author and plays by Brecht, and Ibsen.

Freddie Boardley never married, although he loved women. His partners tended to become infuriated by his lack of commitment to anything but serious drinking.

If Freddie Boardley had written his autobiography, which he often threatened to do, he would have told many tales of drunken nights, such as touring Spain with the National Theatre and meeting a very attractive woman, having his drink spiked - and waking up minus his £1000 watch - and all his clothes - in a strange hotel room.

Freddie certainly loved his mother, whom he would call every evening for exactly 59 minutes (his call plan allowed this free time) at her home in Ayr.

And one long-term partner has spoken of the profound love the actor revealed for her children.

In recent years however, Freddie’s drinking really took its toll. He suffered from alcohol-related peripheral neuropathy, and the more he drank, the less often casting directors called.

Two weeks ago, the actor sensed the final curtain, suffering blackouts.

He even spoke of making a will (he never got around to it - reflecting his life of quiet chaos.) And it seemed he had few regrets, unlike his family, his mum Lorraine and sisters Brenda, Irene and Lynn.

“We all looked up to Freddie,” says Lynn, with obvious sadness etched into her voice. “Yet, while Freddie loved acting, he loved playing his guitar and he truly loved life, he loved drinking more.”

Freddie also had the ability to laugh at himself, recalls Ian Pattison who would meet his pal on Friday evenings in ‘Boardley corner’, upstairs at the Ubiquitous Chip in Glasgow’s west end.

“There was a period when Freddie was more than usually exasperated by a lack of acting work,” Ian recalls. “One night, our conversation went like this; Freddie: ‘When I die, man, I now know what words I want carved on my tombstone.’ Me: ‘What are they, Freddie?’ Freddie: ‘For once, Freddie Boardley is not available.’”

The writer adds; “There’s an old saying a person never dies until his name is spoken for the last time.

“Freddie Boardley was the living embodiment of the wayward west end spirit. And so long as there is still a pub on Ashton Lane, a party in a Hyndland tenement on a Friday night, or a framed playbill for the Slab Boys adoring somebody’s Dowanhill en-suite, Freddie’s name will live in legend.”

• Freddie Boardley’s funeral will take place at Ayr Crematorium, January 7 at 12pm. He asked that mourners wear Hawaiian shirts.