Straight from the Art

Donny O’Rourke, the newly appointed Head of Arts at Scottish Television, talks to Beatrice Colin about his plans.

in Scotland. ‘There is an amazing amount of activity to be reflected back to people living in Scotland, so I‘m glad we have the chance to do that now.‘

The programmes are scheduled by crop rotation, as O’Rourke puts it. ‘lf you turn on your TV on Tuesday night at 1 1.40pm. you get an arts programme. We’ve got a books programme one week. a film the next, a documentary on the arts the next and if there‘s a fallow week. sometimes there‘ll be an arts debate or maybe a programme on Scottish language.’

O’Rourke has an inexhaustible energy and a genuine creative approach to his field. At 33, he finds time outside the demands of what many people would consider an exhausting job to teach a night class at Glasgow University on television in Scotland and he is also a published poet. He is currently editing an anthology for Polygon of poetry by young Scottish writers.

‘I think that the generation around now is one of the most exciting Scotland has ever produced. What intrigues me about this bunch is that they‘re all TV kids. l’m well aware how

‘NB is tapas television. the kind of snippety approach, and I’m well aware that a lot of people don‘t like to see the arts treated in that way. But the audience is more than the combined attendance of every theatrical event in Scotland for a year.‘ Donny O’Rourke has recently taken up the brand-new position as Scottish Television’s Head of Arts. The fact that he‘s there at all is because he has spent the last four years as producer of the snappiest listings programme on TV.

Viewing figures of over 750,000 mean he doesn't need to justify the new early evening Friday peak-time slot for Janice and Bryan. The success of NB has also allowed him to introduce a new strand of programmes which give more in-depth exposure to a whole range of different areas of the arts scene


deeply trivial TV can be, a lot ofjunk gets pushed out. but these people grew up with TV and they were the first generation to do so. I really think that the width of reference in their work. the imaginative restlessness that you can see. their desire to be broadcast, their wish to make vivid personal experience compelling for a wider audience. all these things make them unique.‘

While he may be frustrated by financial restraints and the pressure to make commercial TV, his programming does aim to give a voice to young



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Donny o-‘gg .wa." not w mm“ . i",- wo a

time thinking about what used to be.’

Scotland which has rarely been heard. He also sees the need to re-define the national image of a country which has been overshadowed by the grim faces of Rab C. Nesbitt and Taggan for too long. ‘We’re at the cusp between boldly going forward to a new Scotland and harking back to the Scotland of my father who worked as an engineer at the shipyards. Here we are, we’ve got to proceed energetically and we can’t spend time thinking about what used to be.‘ stresses O‘Rourke. ‘But i do think we’re on to something at the moment.‘



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The List 26 March—8 April W93 73