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BBC ALBA hosts 11 international broadcast partners

6 December 2019

BBC ALBA this week hosted broadcasters from around the world as part of a European Broadcasting Union (EBU) event screening new children’s drama and documentaries.

The BBC, which operates BBC ALBA in partnership with MG ALBA, has been a long-time partner with the EBU, which brought the 11 different nations to the BBC in Glasgow.

Within the scheme, broadcasters are required to make 15-minute programmes all set to a common theme and which are directed specifically for ease of international versioning. The partners are then freely allowed to broadcast the other nations’ selection on their own platforms.

The drama programmes all followed the common theme of “Tell me a Secret”, whilst the documentary programmes were inspired by the phrase “I can do it”.

Broadcasters visited from Spain, Germany, Japan, Finland, Serbia, Portugal, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Croatia and Ireland.

MG ALBA’s Commissioning Editor, Bill MacLeod, chaired the proceedings over the two days. Bill said:

“It’s been great having our international partners here at our Glasgow base, exchanging ideas and perspectives. It’s a really creative forum that produces the very best international films for children, something which is hugely important for BBC ALBA and for children who want excellent Gaelic programming.

“Creating children’s content like this can be so universally relatable and appealing. Whether in Gaelic, German or Japanese, children will understand and appreciate the themes and messages in each of these stories.”

BBC ALBA have taken part in the drama scheme for the past three years and last year’s selection Buidheagain, by Sorbier Productions, won Best Children’s Programme at the RTS Scotland awards.

Rùn / Private Pet, this year’s Gaelic drama, is a quirky comedy about listening and learning, in which a mischievous deaf boy’s world is transformed thanks to a four-legged friend who becomes the “ears” he never had.

This year, BBC ALBA are newly entering the children’s documentary scheme with Balach aig a’ Mhullach / Boy at the Top, a breath-taking documentary charting a boy’s attempt to climb the equivalent of Everest – mountain by mountain!

Glasgow-based production company Sorbier Productions were successful with both these commissions and recently announced extra funding from the BFI’s Young Audience Content Fund.

Patsi MacKenzie, director of Sorbier Productions, said:

“Working with partners across Europe has been a hugely enriching experience as a producer as well as for Sorbier and our freelance colleagues. The whole process is collaborative throughout, and we’re thrilled to be at the heart of such a diverse, multi-lingual film scheme.”

Phillis Fermer, Executive Producer on the children’s documentary series of the EBU said:

“It was a fabulous year working with our colleagues from all around Europe and Japan on the documentaries and we’ve delivered 10 very strong yet different films. The protagonists of our documentaries are from different countries, cultures and social backgrounds, but what they all have in common is that they are children around the same age all facing their own personal challenges and fighting to manage them. The films are emotional and informative and show the audience in each broadcasting country that we are one world.”

Beryl Richards, Executive Producer on the children’s drama series of the EBU, said:

“It’s wonderful to see the coming together of different nationalities at our drama series meetings, and it makes me realise that we all speak and understand the same creative language. And with this shared understanding we make better and better films.