The social history of Scottish football in a four part series for the BBC. The first episode ‘I Play for Money’ sets the tone and style.
Thirty years ago Scottish football was riding high, producing many World class players and regularly qualifying for International tournaments. But the social landscape was changing fast with a new political doctrine placing money above everything – resulting in one fifth of the work force in Scotland losing their jobs, fracturing the industrial communities that supported many of the football clubs.The game badly needed modernisation and a new direction.
Predicting Trump? Some 18 years ago as we approached the millennium, this film’s subtext was to give the audience a glimpse of what the future leadership of the USA may look like around 2015 to 2020 – it turned out to be an accurate warning of the shape of things to come.
The vast majority of politicians, judges, businesspeople and leaders in the USA are members of the ‘Greek’ system. This film follows several characters as they race around the clock during ‘Rush’, their first week at Iowa University, seeking membership of the Greek system. The future careers of many of these young students are dependent on what particular fraternity or sorority they are recruited in to – giving them enhanced opportunities to shape the future Political and Fiscal leadership of the USA. The film was shot in 1998 and finished in 1999 for the BBC2 anthropological series UNDER THE SUN.
The Holyrood Files
Five years in the making, the feature length filming project became as controversial as the subject matter – the construction of a new parliament building for Scotland’s new Devolved Government. The story is the fusion of art, politics and the tragic human costs involved against all the odds, to see a controversial vision through to the very end. This is a metaphor for anyone with artistic ambition. Rarely has a documentary given rise to so much media attention over such a prolonged period. Speculation about the content of the footage – often fuelled by political opportunism – has ranged far and wide, from the ill-informed to the absurd. When an attempt to gain access to the unseen footage was denied to a Government Inquiry in to the spiralling costs of the building project, it unleashed a huge political firestorm, culminating in threats of legal action and imprisonment. The Holyrood Files premièred at the Edinburgh International Festival and also distributed to many film festivals Worldwide. The film won the BAFTA Scotland award and the Celtic Media award for ‘Best Feature Documentary’. It has been shown on BBC television and had a run in the Edinburgh’s Filmhouse as part of the ‘Made in Edinburgh’ season.
The Gathering Place
The Gathering Place is the television version of ‘The Holyrood Files’ in four one hour episodes. It tells the full story and in much more detail. Such was the controversy concerning the footage after the Government Inquiry was denied access to it, that the BBC legal team recommended that no footage could be included in any pre-publicity, including the promotional trailers that normally run for a week or two prior to transmission. But with the sheer volume of column inches dedicated to the project in the press, it had already gained a notoriety unprecedented in Scottish Broadcasting. It was suggested by some audience analysts that this programme was watched by every journalist, politician and lawyer in Scotland! Not bad eh? But not the audience we were aiming for. However, the series was very well received – was shortlisted for a documentary BAFTA and for the first time ever in newspaper history, had the ‘Last Night’s TV Review’ printed on the front page. There is a much bigger story to tell with the shenanigans that took place during this production and I’ll post it up soon. In the meantime – a small insight in About.
Doctor Fortune’s Australian Casebook (BBC Versions)
This series is about the wilful destruction and genocide of the Aboriginal people as seen through the eyes of Doc Fortune. After the BBC transmission, John Pilger the renowned investigative journalist and broadcaster pitched in to the discussion remarking that these were the best films he had seen regarding Aboriginal health and Australian race relations. All very flattering. But the series was watered down and sanitised in a re-cut version for transmission on SBS in Australia – despite loud protests from myself and the Exec Producers. Pilger watched them both and remarked that the difference was like watching the ‘truth’ and ‘half-truth’. This use of the ‘alternative truth’ tells you everything anybody needs to know about present day Australia. I firmly believe that the conclusion as articulated by Doctor Fortune at the end of Episode 3 – bring in the World Health Organisation – is the only solution that may slow, and hopefully halt the genocide.
Desperately Seeking Doctors
This series is the forerunner to ‘Doctor Fortune’s Australian Casebook’. It set Doctor Fortune and myself on a journey into the Ozzie outback – seeking answers to questions we didn’t know existed.
After responding to an advert in a medical magazine, Doctor Mary Fortune is whisked from the North East of Scotland to the middle of the Australian desert. The Australian Heath Service, after decades of failing to train adequate numbers of Doctors, now have a chronic shortage, and in an effort to bolster their numbers they advertise and recruit Doctors from all over the world. For 25 years Doctor Fortune has worked as a General Practitioner all over Scotland, ‘I wanted to do something different, but still in medicine’ explains Doctor Fortune as she packs her bags in preparation for the gruelling 37 hour journey. During her three month placement, Mary will be separated from her teenage son Tom and her Husband Alistair. ‘We’ve been married 22 years, and we’ve only ever been separated for 10 days, so going off on my own is going to feel really strange’.
Only after arriving in Australia are overseas Doctors told of their placement locations. Mary’s first job is in Kalgoorlie, a gold mining town 600 km inland, and known as the richest square mile in the world. Big mining means big money and this has attracted its share of drugs, alcohol and prostitution. And hidden almost unseen amongst the transient workforce, are the original custodians of the land, the Aborigines. This heady population mix presents Mary with some of the most challenging, and humorous consultations of her long career and finds herself dealing with a newly decorated leg, a topless ‘Skimpie’ barmaid with depression and a hidden community of Aborigines with a life expectancy of 38 years. And while battling against the inadequacies of the Ozzie Health system, discovers something very special about herself.
Much of Scotland’s past has been ignored and airbrushed out of the history books. The reasons range from political expediency to cultural imposition. But Scots were always on the forefront of the expanding British Empire – willing members that gained them a reputation for their formidable pioneering sprit.
This three part series brings together the hidden stories of Scotland’s magnificent men and their flying machines – the first commercial transatlantic crossing – the first flight over Everest – the first east to west crossing of the Atlantic – the first non-powered flight – the first aerial reconnaissance – and many more……..’Scotland has been at the forefront of aviation since the early pioneers looked upwards to the skies’ – Curator, Museum of Flight.
This clip is from Episode 1 ‘Pioneers’ and tells the remarkable and little known story of how two young Scots were the first to fly over the highest point on Earth, Mount Everest. The event took place just 30 years after the first powered flight by the Wright Brothers. The sons of the two pilots, Dougal MacIntyre and James Douglas Hamilton tell their father’s story aided by some incredible archive footage from the Drama / Documentary film ‘Wings Over Everest’ made at the time .
Flying Scots – Episode 1
Ruby Wax – American Pie
Plenty to say on this production experience, enjoyable, eye opening etc……and the sort of show all broadcast staff should stay away from. I think the kindest thing to say is that this was a great story……and I’m very glad to hear that Ruby now gives her time to mental health (it wasn’t that bad really…….it was a great programme that spearheaded the series launch…..and I was asked back).