BBC Scotland and BBC One Scotland and BBC Two Scotland sketch show from Robert Florence and Iain Connell. 22 episodes 2009 – 2019.
Robert Florence and Iain Connell write and perform this sketch show set in a fictional Scottish location that somehow seems eerily familiar. Burnistoun has its own newspaper, furniture store, gym, pub and all-you-can-eat buffet restaurant, radio station and even an ice-cream van.
Characters include Uncle Willie the man who insists on having his own funeral before he dies, wannabe girl-band singer Jackie McGlade who can make any tune sexy except football songs, and John and Terry two pub pals who insist they do not fantasize about each other sexually.
Other Burnistoun characters include disgruntled serial killer The Burnistoun Butcher, and snippy siblings, Paul and Walter, who share high drama inside their ice cream van.
The teenage romantic comedy set in a Scottish new town has been an enduring success for 40 years.
Hardly a day goes by without somebody asking Clare Grogan to quote a line from Gregory’s Girl, the teenage romantic comedy set in a Scottish new town which became an unlikely hit when it was released 40 years ago this week.
“Sometimes they ask me if I can lie down in a bank of grass and dance,” says Grogan, who was just 18 when she filmed that scene in the film four decades ago.
Grogan, whose career also included huge success as a pop star in the band Altered Images, told BBC Scotland she does not mind the constant reminders of a film she made when she was a teenager.
Shortly after Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh and husband of Queen Elizabeth II, died last Friday, the BBC cut away from its schedule to broadcast special coverage across its TV channels and radio stations for the entire afternoon and night.
As popular shows were taken off the air — including Friday’s episode of “EastEnders,” a soap opera that has run since 1985, and the final episode of “MasterChef,” a cooking competition show — the BBC was flooded with expressions of displeasure. To be exact: 109,741 complaints were received, the BBC said on Thursday, making it the most complained-about moment in the BBC’s history. [ . . . ]
It’s pointless trying to divide up and second-guess audiences. Just create high-quality television and let us choose for ourselves
Should the BBC be making more programmes specifically targeted at older viewers? Responding to a letter accusing the corporation of taking older viewers for granted, the audience services department (on behalf of senior management) said that, in their opinion, the over-50s actually had varied tastes, so were encouraged to enjoy shows made for a “general audience”.
That wasn’t good enough for DCMS chair Julian Knight, who declared that many people feel “the BBC has left them behind”, while, in contrast, writer Charlie Higson has said that the BBC was “forever tying itself in knots about the ageing demographic of its viewers” and stereotyping them by programming gardening shows and documentaries about tanks. It’s also notable that BBC Three is getting an extra £40 million for its terrestrial reboot, with a schedule “aimed at audiences 16-34”, while BBC Four becomes a repeats channel.
But is the viewing audience really that simply – or starkly – divided? I think it’s eminently more sensible to make programming for that so-called “general audience” rather than fretting about demographic targets or second-guessing audience preferences in such an offhand, even patronising, way.
One of the big hits of lockdown, BBC Three’s adaptation of Sally Rooney’s novel Normal People, might seem a prime example of “yoof” telly, as a coming-of-age drama centring on two teenagers navigating love, sex, family and education. Yet only 5m of the record 16.2m viewers in its first week were from that 16-34 group; the other two-thirds were older viewers.
And that makes perfect sense. You don’t need to be a teenager right now to be able to understand adolescent experience; we’ve all gone through it. Nor do you need to match the characters’ age in order to appreciate a sensitively crafted, beautifully performed piece of drama. If anything, it might be a more powerful watch with an added wistful nostalgia. Certainly, Rooney’s readership wasn’t confined to young adulthood, even as many labelled her a “millennial” voice.
The same applies to other lockdown favourites, like The Queen’s Gambit on Netflix. By November 2020, over 62m households had tuned in to watch the exploits of chess prodigy Beth Harmon, not just those of a similarly tender age. And of the 9m-plus consolidated viewers who enjoyed ITV’s Quiz, about Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?’s “Coughing Major”, 1.5m were aged 16-34, even though this was based on a scandal that took place before many of them were born.
It just goes to show that you can’t pigeon-hole viewers – and it’s foolish to try. What we really want is quality entertainment, and if it touches on a universal experience or emotion, then of course it will appeal to people of all ages. The best television doesn’t divide us; it unites us. And never have we needed that more than in this past difficult year, with many separated from loved ones or living in isolation. Continue reading →
A Falling Tree production for BBC Radio 4 first broadcast in September 2016.
Annie Briggs was a leading figure in the English folk revival of the early 1960s, inspiring Bert Jansch (famously, in Blackwater Side), Sandy Denny, The Watersons and many more. But she was a restless spirit, travelling through the British Isles and Ireland, finding songs and living close to the earth.
As Sandy Denny depicted her in The Pond and the Stream: Annie wanders on the land. She loves the freedom of the air. She finds a friend in ev’ry place she goes. There’s always a face she knows. I wish that I was there.
And so she remains, now a grandmother living by the water in the west of Scotland. She’s always resolutely resisted celebrity and commercial success, withdrawing from the folk scene in the early 1970s, but her legacy – her voice and her attitude – continue to inspire and to carry a link to life as it was once lived in ‘the imagined village’.
Annie talks to Alan Hall about childhood holidays singing along with the waves, writing songs while living on a beach in west Ireland, her garden and the wildlife that she shares it with, and the ballad tradition she discovered as a teenager and that she ‘belongs to’.