My Column

Glasgow is new star of small screen

  • Date: Tuesday 6th November 2018
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Television broadcasting began in earnest in Britain with the BBC in 1936 and by 1997 there were five channels on our terrestrial TVs – it was staggering at the time. Five!  

When I was growing up, there always seemed to be ‘something on’, yet the addition of a new channel was momentous.

More than 20 years after that Channel 5 launch, there are more viewing choices out there – terrestrially and online – than ever before. 

New programmes and new channels seem to appear without any real fanfare which shows how well-oiled the TV wheels are.

But an awful lot of work goes into production and programming, and to stay ahead of the rest of the pack, channels have to continually reinvent.

Channel 4 has always been a bit more ‘out there’ and more groundbreaking than some of the others with its close-to-the-bone documentaries and gritty news coverage.

When the team behind it announced, earlier this year, that the channel would be investing £250m in a new national headquarters and two new creative hubs, I think everyone in Scotland was very excited and proud to see Glasgow in the running.

Last week, Leeds was unveiled as the location for the overall National HQ but Glasgow and Bristol were named the homes of the new hubs – vehicles for smaller production and commissioning work with a focus on reflecting cultural diversity.

The Glasgow hub will provide a springboard for new Scottish screenwriters, producers, directors and actors, and channel chiefs have already said that the team will be working with educational establishments to help nurture new talent.

It’s likely that the hub team will comprise 40 roles too, so there’s potential for new jobs.  

This is a fantastic boost for Glasgow, not just for the city itself but for its surrounding communities.

Glasgow is not all just about the highs and lows of the big city, it’s about people in urban, suburban and rural villages, so it’s important that they’re represented too. 

What the viewers want should always be at the forefront of programming, of course, and I think real stories from people who are passionate about their culture and about the city they live in should be at the heart of it.

The Channel 4 programmes coming out of Glasgow should be different and dynamic and I think all the conditions are in place to help us do that. There are also significant commercial opportunities that could arise from it, in turn boosting the local economy.  

Channel 4’s chief executive Alex Mahon said that Glasgow has a ‘well-established production sector across multiple genres’ and lauded its rich cultural diversity, so it’s clear that the channel has confidence in us.

I’m sure we’ll rise to the challenge. Bringing the hub to Glasgow means that Channel 4 will be closer to the other production partners and channels in the thriving creative community. 

We already have BBC Scotland, STV and more than 120 production companies, so the passion for television is definitely there, and it makes sense for Channel 4 to be in the mix too.

With the new BBC Scotland channel due to launch in February, there will be a lot of anticipation in the city next year.

Six new programmes are already in production for the new BBC Scotland channel, which will air 365 days a year, from noon until midnight.

Despite us being firmly in the era of on-demand providers like Netflix and Now TV, I think it’s important that we remember where it all started out and continue to invest in grassroots telly – programmes spearheaded by real stories and imaginative dramas.

I’m looking forward to seeing how the small screen performs on a big stage over the next few years.



Looks like Scottish company Rockstar Games has well and truly done it again.

Its latest hotly anticipated video game release, Red Dead Redemption 2, which came out just 10 days ago, is racking up absolutely massive sales.

The 18-rated game is set in the Wild West and has everything from barroom brawls and pistol duels to train robberies and bounty hunting missions.

There’s even some of Rockstar’s famous ‘Easter Eggs’ - hidden surprises scattered throughout the game for those who don’t know their PlayStations from their Xboxes - including an extra-terrestrial encounter and a meeting with Bigfoot.

Top that off with incredible graphics, a first-class soundtrack, and truly immersive gameplay and it’s clear to see why it has all the winning elements.

And when I say immersive, I really mean it. The attention to detail is staggering with the game presenting a world that you can truly get lost in and where pretty much anything is possible.

It’s also paid off gloriously. Red Dead Redemption 2 made a whopping £650m in retail sell through in its first three days.

Why’s that significant? Because it makes it the single biggest global entertainment launch this year and the second biggest ever after Grand Theft Auto V.

For those who aren’t in the know, that game was also produced by Rockstar and has raked in $6bn since 2013.

So it’s no surprise that avid gamers were waiting with baited breath for Red Dead Redemption 2 to hit the shelves – they knew it was going to be special.

It’s tremendous to see a home grown firm enjoying such massive worldwide success and I’m sure, like GTA V, this latest release is going to keep the cash rolling in.



Social media has been jam-packed with brilliant Hallowe’en costumes all week - and Scots certainly didn’t disappoint with their creativity.

One young woman from Kilmarnock found her pictures going viral thanks to her homage to one of our best known brands, Irn Bru.

Jennifer Gallacher donned an orange t-shirt, a necklace made of bottle tops, branded earrings and truly stole the show with her ‘hat’ – an Irn Bru bottle that had her flame-coloured hair ‘pouring’ from the bottle neck.

Scottish lad Derren Reid also did a great job with his Nicola Sturgeon costume and found his pictures sweeping the internet too.

I’m sure he’s enjoying his five minutes of fame but I did chuckle to hear he superglued on his earrings – bet that’s one part he regrets!



Houston, we have a problem. Okay not Houston…Sutherland.

It looks like potential plans for a Scottish spaceport have hit a snag. A crofting estate between Tongue and Durness was earmarked as a potential spot for rocket launches carrying satellites into space.

It was thought it could create hundreds of highly skilled jobs.

But crofters have raised concerns about the impact on the environment, roads, and crofts, and reckon the potential harm would outweigh the benefits.

It’s disappointing to think this exciting plan could be shelved – but I do think that both sides of the argument must be very carefully considered given that crofting is of huge importance to the rural economy.

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