life beyond Fife
l i A new BBC Scotland series. The l Insiders looks at the country from
the perspective of the local inhabitants. But. wot. no Glasgow? Tom Lappin hears why from producer Caroline Roberts and presenter Gordon Kennedy.
A posse of [idin burgh sixth-formers canvassed during the Television Festival were unanimous about what they believed was the worst aspect of Scottish broadcasting. ‘Everything is set in Glasgow.‘ they moaned with one voice. and justifiably so. (‘ertainly network viewers could be forgiven for believing that outside Strathclyde Region. Scotland was occupied by Gaelic Mod singers and a few flocks ol‘sheep.
There are signs of reliel‘on the horizon however. Jute City. a drama that can be seen next month. is set in Dundee. and a new series starting this week. The Insiders. offers a guide to Scotland that completely ignores the Dear Green No Mean Miles Better Place.
I think it’s possible to make eight programmes about Scotland without talking about Glasgow.
‘In 1990. there were a lot of programmes that went out from Glasgow.‘ says series producer Caroline Roberts. ‘I made three of them myself. Just talking to people. I think it‘s possible to make eight programmes about Scotland without talking about Glasgow. I‘m not saying Glasgow‘s not a fantastic place to live because it is. but it has been overdone. A lot ofprogrammes made in London
are just about one square mile in London. and that
purports to be network coverage. That‘s bollocks. and I think. by the same token. when you talk about living in Scotland. you shouldn‘t see it entirely through the experience ofliving in Glasgow.‘
Well. having established that.'I‘he Insiders has a novel approach to exploring Scotland. taking presenter Gordon Kennedy (he of/Ibsolutely fame) around the country. where he is guided in each programme by a local with no previous television experience.
‘Part of the idea of the series was that Gordon didn‘t know much about the places he visited. so the insiders could introduce him to the area.‘
Roberts explains. The ‘insiders‘ were found by systematic research. resulting in a diverse range of people talking about their home towns. ‘In a lot of places. our researchers found that one name kept cropping up as having something to say about the place they lived in. We‘ve got someone who is unemployed. a schoolgirl. someone training for circus school. a hairdresser. a cartoonist and someone who makes radio commercials. They were just the business. All the directors were amazed that. despite having no previous experience. without exception they all got their first pieces to camera completely right.‘
Kennedy too pays tribute to the insiders. who showed him aspects of the towns that went beyond the usual facade presented to visitors. The Edinburgh programme (already broadcast as a pro-Festival teaser) covered subjects as diverse as an HIV ‘fanzige‘. and the increasing gentility of
I like being here, and there wasn’t much that I saw on telly that showed any enthusiasm for living here.
greyhound racing. "There are elements to the programmes that even if you lived in the place. there are going to be things you won‘t know about.‘ he says. ‘In 30 minutes you can‘t h0pe to do the definitive guide to an area.‘ adds Roberts. ‘What we are trying to do in each show is reﬂect several different elements. and provide entertaining television.‘
‘Places like Perth surprised mel‘ says Kennedy. ‘because I‘d been through it plenty of times on the way north to lnverness. but I‘d never actually seen the town. I was very dubious about the place. but when we went there. it was a very vibrant place. doing very well for itselfwithout shouting about it.
In a way. that really showed up some of my preconceptions.‘
The Shetland he visited also bore little resemblance to the ‘Stoneybridge‘ that is the subject ofaffectionate satire in Absolutely. ‘lt was an amazingly welcoming place.‘ he says. ‘and everyone knew exactly what we were doing there. We might have been filming 70 miles away the day before. but word had got around and by the next day people would come up and ask us how it was going. Funnin enough. they were all big fans of Absolutely as well . . .‘
That sounds completely wanky and ‘Family Circle’, but I wanted to do something that showed how young people lived.
The Insiders. aimed at a young audience. is something of a departure for BBC Scotland. whose previous specialist shows have tended to
. target a rather mature viewer. ‘There was a gap.‘ admits Roberts. ‘I like being here. and there wasn‘t much that I saw on telly that showed any enthusiasm for living here. That sounds completely wanky and Family Circle. but I wanted to do something that showed how young people lived. Saying that. it‘s not really a youth-type programme. It has the humour. but I think it‘s very different. Rough Guide is a brilliant series. but it‘s two people travelling all the time. In this series Gordon travels around but in each place he goes to he meets someone who stays there and works there. which gives a slightly different edge on a
f place.‘ Kennedy agrees: ‘If this programme does
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nothing else it will show there is life beyond Fife.‘ The Insiders starts on BBC Scotland on Friday 20 September at 7.30pm. The first show comes from Perth.
62 The List 13 — 26 September 1.991 _