A raft of Scottish celebrities, new talent and documentaries showcasing modern Scotland will be featured on the new BBC Scotland channel.
Airing for the first time tomorrow (Sunday) at 7pm, Still Game’s ninth and final series forms part of the launch night celebrations.
Scottish comedian Iain Stirling will also host a special one-off entertainment show, A Night at the Theatre, broadcast in two parts over the course of the night.
Recorded at the Theatre Royal in Glasgow, it was made by the Scottish production arm of Hungry Bear Media – the team behind All Round To Mrs Brown’s and Michael McIntyre’s Big Show.
It will be the realisation of a vision first announced by Tony Hall, director general of the BBC, in 2017.
The corporation has invested an additional £40 million a year in Scotland, with the initial budget for BBC Scotland sitting at just over £32 million.
Tony Nellany, channel manager and commissioning executive, believes the money has been well spent putting Scotland and its people centre stage and he can’t wait for viewers to tune in.
He said: “The BBC’s Scottish output already performed strongly but we wanted to show more of Scotland, more often.
“We did research the length and breadth of the country before making a case for the channel.
“And the public response convinced us there was an appetite for it.
“The channel will allow us not only to showcase modern Scotland and its people, but also to take more risks by providing a platform for emerging talent.
“If we’re not developing new talent, we’ll be doing something wrong because the talent out there is incredible – it can be seen in all of our programmes.
“So we hope to see our content also going out on the network and being sold abroad, giving us an international platform.
“Scots are passionate about their place, not just in the UK but on a global stage.
“We should be sharing their stories across the UK and the world.
“This channel will be more than Scotland just talking to itself.”
Tony is eagerly awaiting tomorrow night’s launch when audiences will get their first glimpse of the channel.
He said: “The fact we’re showing Still Game first shows that the BBC is fully behind what we’re doing.
“Iain Stirling is a home grown talent who has gone on to do big things so we’re delighted he agreed to be part of our opening night.
“And if the demand for tickets to the live recording is anything to go by, a lot of people will be tuning in!
“I’m passionate about what we’re doing and there’s a brilliant team who are also very passionate about it.
“BBC Scotland has been a long time coming so we can’t wait for launch night – we just hope the rest of Scotland is as excited as we are!”
Working with 70 different production companies to create new programmes for BBC Scotland, Tony set them all one challenge.
“Hills and glens may be the backdrop for many of our programmes but they’re also packed full of people and stories,” he said. “That’s the challenge we set them.
“Tartan and shortbread will always be celebrated as part of our culture.
“But our audiences want to see a contemporary and modern Scotland – a new take on our culture.
“History will, of course, have its place but we will be focusing on real people and their lives.
“Scots have a long and proud storytellling history and that’s evident when we put a camera in front of them and let them tell their own stories in their own way.
“You quickly discover there’s no such thing as an ordinary person. Everyone has a story to tell – we’re giving them that chance.”
While already proud of the channel’s content – a mix of 50 per cent originations/acquisitions to 50 per cent repeats – Tony believes it will only get better with age.
He said: “We’re pleased with our programming for the first year and beyond.
“But it will get better, the longer we’re on air.
“As people get used to the channel being part of their everyday life, we hope they’ll not just watch and enjoy it but also want to appear.
“That will enable us to share even more stories with our audiences.”
BBC Scotland will be on-air every day from noon to midnight – extending for events such as Hogmanay.
From noon to 7pm the channel will show BBC Two content, as well as First Minister’s Question Time, Politics Scotland, sporting and music events.
But the core content will be screened from 7pm to midnight, with an hour-long news programme, The Nine, at 9pm – featuring stories from across Scotland and global news of local interest.
Celebrated Scots will Takeover TV too – being invited to curate an evening featuring their favourite programmes and films.
Tony added: “They will be invited to take over the station for one night and share what their favourite programmes mean to them.
“I think we’re going to have a lot of fun with that!”
Guilt brothers met at school and can’t wait to work on new drama
Acclaimed Scots actors Mark Bonnar (Catastrophe) and Jamie Sives (Game Of Thrones) will star in Guilt, a new four-part drama series.
Written by Neil Forsyth, it is the first drama commission for BBC Scotland’s new digital channel.
Set in Edinburgh, Guilt is a stylish, contemporary drama with riveting plot twists and a strong vein of black humour.
The series will premiere on BBC Scotland and follow on BBC Two later this year.
The story follows two disparate Scottish brothers Max (Bonnar) and Jake (Sives) who, while driving home from a wedding together one night, accidentally run over and kill an old man on a darkened street.
After making the panicked decision to cover their tracks, the brothers seem to get away with their crime.
However, as neighbours and relatives of the dead man begin to suspect his death wasn’t as innocent as it initially seemed, the brothers find their lives falling apart as their actions begin to catch up with them.
Mark said: “The moment I read the first scene I was totally hooked. Neil has managed to write a captivating and breathless thriller which, even in its darkest, most dramatic moments, maintains a pitch black sense of humour.
“And to be standing shoulder to shoulder with Jamie Sives, whom I’ve known since we were at Leith Academy together, aged 11, is joyful beyond words.”
Jamie is equally excited.
He said: “Our director Rob McKillop is a special talent and everyone I’ve met on this project has been so enthusiastic.
“I’m also over the moon at the prospect of working with Mark.
“It’s really quite surreal to think that he and I sometimes walked to school together.
“Now we’re about to lead up a terrific new drama in the year of the launch of BBC Scotland.
“I’ve been wanting to work with Mark for ages. It doesn’t get any better.”