Scottish actor John Cairney has died aged 93

John Cairney as Robert Burns
John Cairney played Burns on screen and stage

The actor John Cairney, who found fame playing Robert Burns on stage and screen, has died at the age of 93.

The Glasgow-born actor also appeared in the films Jason and the Argonauts and the Titanic drama A Night to Remember.

He trained at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (RSAMD) and was a critically acclaimed stage actor before becoming a regular on television and in films.

In later life he became an acclaimed painter.

John Cairney was born in 1930 in the Baillieston area of Glasgow. He briefly attended art college but dropped out to pursue the life of an actor.

After drama school, where he met his first wife Sheila, he began a successful career in the theatre. He was in the British premiere of Arthur Miller's The Crucible in Bristol and played Hamlet at Glasgow's Citizens Theatre.

His most famous film role came in 1963's adventure Jason and The Argonauts, where his character is crushed to death by the living bronze statue, Talos.

John Cairney in Scotch on the Rocks
Cairney played a revolutionary nationalist in the controversial BBC thriller Scotch on the Rocks

In the 1970s he was the star of the BBC Scotland drama Scotch on the Rocks, in which he played an SNP politician with links to paramilitaries and the Soviet Union.

The series, which was based on a novel by the Conservative politician Douglas Hurd, was considered very controversial and has never been repeated.

Cairney began his long association with Robert Burns when he portrayed the poet in the play There Was A Man at The Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh in 1965. The play was then televised and Cairney recorded an album of the performance.

He would be associated with Burns for the rest of his career, touring the world with his one-man play on the poet. His 1987 autobiography was titled The Man Who Played Burns.

Cairney celebrated other Scottish figures in stage shows about William McGonagall, Robert Louis Stevenson and Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

He lived for many years in New Zealand with his second wife Alannah. The couple moved to Glasgow in 2008, where Cairney returned to the canvas, picking up his paint brushes and finding fresh acclaim for this paintings.

He is survived by Alannah and five children from his first marriage.

A spokesperson for the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, formerly the RSAMD, said:

"We are so incredibly sad to hear of John Cairney's death. John was a member of our very first acting programme and was literally first in the classroom door when it opened in 1950.

"Throughout his life he was a passionate advocate for the power of performance and the transformative potential of the arts and arts education. He was a lovely man and will be sorely missed."