not a narrow history of Scottish art. We spent a long time finding a title which would justify why we are making the series. I think I was listening to a Waterboys song and there was a Mike Scott lyric, ‘l’m starting to see the bigger picture.”

The programme is directed by Douglas Rae, and successfully intercuts static paintings with landscapes related to the art. The scenes ring with patter-ised commentary and are infinitely watchable. Archer also created The Late Show but this approach is anything but sanitised.

‘I believe in making television as accessible as possible; I get annoyed with arts programmes when they want to speak to people who are already into it and already understand. There are certain modes of doing things that are alienating. I hate dinner jackets on television. You’re sending out a message which people read as, “that’s not for me”. I think it’s important to have a relaxed attitude towards the arts.

‘And so someone like Billy emphasises that artists are very human people in his very approach. That’s an important thing for television to do. to bridge the gap between learning and entertainment. I’m sure that people will watch these programmes and want to lind out more and then go and see the paintings in the galleries.‘

In early 1994. those Raeburns. Ramsays. Wilkies, McCullochs. McTaggarts. Guthries. Mackintoshs, Peploes. Gillies. Eardleys. Bellanys and Howsons will be on show at the Mchllan Gallery, Glasgow. in an exhibition to coincide with the series. As for Connolly. he has plans under wraps for another series of documentaries. A natural educator, even his profunditics are laced with his wicked. twinkling wit.

‘lt’s a bit like seeing your soul on canvas,‘ says

Connolly of his portrait by Bellany. ‘Although this photographic portrait seems a lot like me on the outside. the question is, which of these images reflects the true likeness? For me it’s the painting. Takes years off me. Of course my soul’s much younger than I am. I gave it so much time off in my youth. . . 1;] The Bigger Picture on BBC 2, 10 Jan at 7.30pm. The Exhibition opens I4 Jan in the McLel/an Galleries and the hardback book is published by BBC Books, priced £25.

left: Margaret lindsay, the artist’s wife (1758-60) by Allan Ramsay.

‘The influence of French portraiture on Ramsay in the 1750s cannot be overetimated. In both the softness of Ramsay’s technique and in the muted palatte, this portrait is highly reminiscent of female portraits by artists such as Nattier and Perroneau. Ramsay’s draughtmansbip and natural sense of restraint rescue the picture from artificiality.’

Below right: My Father by John Bellany.

‘An exhibition of painting by German Expressionist, Max Beckmann and a visit to a death camp in East Germany had a dramatic effect on Bellany’s work; the stoic-looking fishermen who dominate in his early pictures were gradually replaced by nightmarish, totemic creatures, often dressed in the striped uniforms of the death camp inmates.’

Below left: A Hind’s Daughter (1883) by James Guthrie (detail).

‘One of the innovations introduced into Scottish art by the Glasgow Boys was the effect that of how the paint is applied - the ‘hand-crafted’ quality - is in itself worthy of appreciation. In this picture, as in all those which Guthrie produced during the heyday of the Glasgow Boys, Guthrie insisted that the work be appreciated first and foremost as a painting' - the intrinsic interest of the subject is only of secondary importance.’

. All quotes from ‘ihe Bigger

Picture by Andrew Gibbon Williams and Andrew Brown, published by 886 Books.

The List l7 December l9‘)3—-l3 January I994 9