MG ALBA Director departs for senior UK Civil Service role

MG ALBA has paid tribute to its Director of Multiplatform content, Iseabail Mactaggart, as it is announced she is to join the Department of International Trade as its Deputy Director, Scotland.

Donald Campbell, Chief Executive of MG ALBA, said:

“Iseabail has made a huge contribution to MG ALBA and to Gaelic media since she joined us as Director of Development & Partnerships in 2014 and then in her role as Director of Multiplatform Content since 2016.  Under her leadership we have seen great success in the internationalisation of Gaelic media content, the development of comedy and drama for BBC ALBA and the delivery of Gaelic digital media to all audiences.

Iseabail has cemented FilmG as a key outlet for young people seeking to develop and share their media content. And she leaves us having launched the user generated content site, càrn, and after leading the successful development and launch of SpeakGaelic, a once in a generation media intervention in Gaelic learning.

Everyone at MG ALBA would like to thank Iseabail for her commitment and passion to our work and we wish her all the best in her new role.”

Allan MacDonald, Chair of MG ALBA said:

“Iseabail has been an extremely effective Director of Multiplatform content, driving forward the work of BBC ALBA beyond the linear service. Her strategic approach to content across the multi-platform media in which we now work has facilitated opportunities for engagement with Gaelic media in a world which is increasingly driven by digital presence.

I have no doubt Iseabail will continue to support Gaelic media to thrive, and we wish her well for her future.”

Future success the focus as MG ALBA awards FilmG contract

MG ALBA is delighted to announce that Stornoway-based media and project management company Astar Media has been awarded a two year contract to deliver Gaelic short film competition, FilmG.

Astar Media will be responsible for strengthening FilmG’s role as an important talent development vehicle, and for increasing its profile as a celebration of the digital content being created by new generations of confident Gaelic speakers.

FilmG has seen many of its participants go on to develop media careers and receive further industry recognition. Since its launch in 2008, the competition has seen over 1000 film entries, generating a significant volume of new and engaging Gaelic content, with a greater focus on creating a digital community in Gaelic.

Each year, the competition culminates in a highly anticipated awards ceremony which is broadcast on BBC ALBA.

The competition had previously been delivered in partnership with Skye-based multi-media company Cànan Graphics Studio (CGS).

Alison Bruce, Brands Communication Manager at MG ALBA said:

“Encouraging and inspiring filmmakers to become involved in the dynamic Gaelic media industry has always been at the heart of FilmG. CGS has made huge strides in fulfilling this aim since the competition’s inception and MG ALBA would like to thank everyone at CGS for growing FilmG to where it is today. We look forward to working with Astar Media to continue to develop and build on the success of the competition among Gaelic speakers of all ages and abilities. Through the tender process, we were particularly impressed by Astar Media’s ambitious outlook and passion for developing the competition with Gaelic language and culture at its heart.”

Budding filmmakers and industry professionals alike are encouraged keep an eye out for more information about how to enter this year’s FilmG15 competition in the coming months. 

Bekah MacLeod from Skye joins CBBC ALBA’s presenting team

BBC ALBA is delighted to announce Bekah MacLeod as its latest CBBC ALBA presenter.

The 24-year-old, from Skeabost, Skye, was on air for the first time last week as she made her CBBC ALBA bow on Wednesday.

The Sabhal Mòr Ostaig UHI alumna relished her on-screen debut as a part of the Gaelic-speaking presenting team, joining the presenter team consisting of Calum MacDonald, Ellen MacDonald, Hannah McKirdy, Zach Ronan & Lana Beaton.

Bekah, who is an avid reader and is currently trying to learn to roller skate, with some degree of success, has always loved TV and drama.

Calling on the experience she gained at the University of the Highlands and Islands through Sabhal Mòr Ostaig’s TV course and from her work towards a degree in Gaelic and Media Studies, Bekah thrived in the studio environment.

Currently living in Glasgow, the former Portree High School pupil has also spent time elsewhere in the BBC, undertaking an MG ALBA-sponsored student placement at Radio nan Gàidheal in Stornoway.

Speaking after making her TV debut and explaining her route to working in broadcasting, Bekah said: “I’ve had a few different jobs and never really knew what I wanted to do, but I’ve always loved being on stage and performing.

“I did some extensive training on my TV course where we covered a little bit of everything over two years”.

“Day one in the studio  was fun – but it’s quite different with the camera pointed at you!

“It was weird looking back at the recording as you notice things you wouldn’t normally see in yourself – I didn’t realise I blinked that much! Or you think: ‘Oh gosh what am I doing with my hands?’.

“The support I’ve received from everyone at BBC ALBA has been super helpful.

“It’s cool explaining to people what my job is and telling them I spend part of my day recording in a CBBC studio like we used to watch when we were younger.

“Between my placement at Radio nan Gàidheal and my early career with BBC ALBA, they have really helped me confirm to myself that working in the media is the perfect place for me.”

Contract for Services

MG ALBA has published an invitation to tender for the Delivery of Services for FilmG15 and FilmG16.

Deadline: 8 June 2022

More information: here

New series set to broadcast in Scotland and Ireland explores the science and stories behind universal element – the rain

A revealing three-part series is the latest in a number of collaborations between BBC ALBA and TG4 dealing with international stories.

Presented by Anne McAlpine (Anne Lundon) (Landward, BBC News) for BBC ALBA, An t-Uisge / Rain Stories explores how rain has influenced our cultures and traditions since time began.

Scientists study it, communities pray for it and governments have tried to control it; An t-Uisge / Rain Stories asks what rain actually is, and why it’s more important now than ever as the world deals with the climate crisis and looks for solutions.

The Atlantic fringes of Ireland and Scotland are infamous for their rainfall, but it’s these downpours that we have to thank for much of the regions’ produce.

In Raasay, off the coast of Skye, Anne visits the distillery to see if, as the saying goes, today’s rain really is tomorrow’s whisky.

But Anne discovers that the rain doesn’t always bring good tidings when she visits the National Trust for Scotland’s Hill House in Helensburgh. Right on the edge of Argyll’s coastal temperate rainforest, the Hill House is now undergoing a costly recovery after decades of rain damage.

In the series, viewers will learn that the survival of this iconic Charles Rennie Mackintosh masterpiece relies on the protection of a huge breathable suit of armour which encases the historic and beautiful building.

We also see traditions often used to keep the rain at bay. In Ireland, a statue of the Child Jesus, known as the Child of Prague, is placed in the garden on the eve of a wedding in the hope of clear skies for the following day.

Other Scottish stories in the series include: Prof. Mark Sutton and Netty Van Dijk of the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, who show Anne their unique experiment to monitor Nitrogen pollution, which gets into rain from farming and car emissions. Dr. Edward Graham, of University of the Highlands and Islands, discusses acid rain and Gordon Cameron, of Applecross, shows Anne how the community has used its abundant resource – rain – to create a community hydro scheme.
Anne also meets Michael Begg, an award-winning East Lothian sound artist collecting rain sounds to make music to highlight Climate Change.

Light Water Is Black Water, a commission from the Ocean ARTic Partnership, was created using rainfall data combined with rain sounds.

Michael is filmed recording the sound of rain as it hits the trees in a forest and in a variety of containers, from a copper pot to a Tibetan singing bowl.

Other highlights of the series, which was also funded by Screen Scotland, as well as NI Screen’s Irish Language Broadcast Fund, TG4, LIC in China, Creative Wales and distributed by TVF International, include eye-catching rituals from around the world – to call rain and to ward it off – two of them involving weddings!

In Assam, India, the wedding of two frogs is a highly colourful annual event to summon the monsoon rains.

Anne said: “We have an abundance of rain in Scotland and growing up in the west I’m well used to being out in all seasons, for work and pleasure. Working on this series was so interesting; digging deeper into the science and the stories – of which there are many!- behind rain was a topic I’m very interested in – as most Scots are!”

At the National Center of Meteorology in Abu Dhabi, Anne met some of the scientists involved in seeding the clouds – a type of weather modification that aims to increase the rain in this desert country.

She adds: “It was amazing to learn about how the UAE as a country addresses its water shortage.”

Anne also travelled to Sharjah in the UAE, to an art installation where you walk under rain, but don’t get wet!

Rain Room is a hundred square metre field of perpetually falling raindrops. When you walk into the room, network sensors in the floor cut off the supply of water from above, letting you wander through the downpour without getting wet.

Anne says: “It was a very unusual experience. As the sun is beating down in the desert outside you step into this darkened room filled with pouring rain! It was really cool.”

The MacTV /Cwmni Da / Below the Radar / LIC co-production series features stories from Scotland, Ireland, India, USA, Kenya, China and the United Arab Emirates.

AN T-UISGE / RAIN STORIES begins on BBC ALBA on Wednesday, April 6 at 9pm. Each programme will also be available to watch on the BBC iPlayer for 30 days afterwards.

Gaelic Media recognised with 14 nominations for Celtic Media Festival 2022

BBC ALBA and BBC Radio nan Gàidheal content has today been recognised for its high quality with 14 nominations across the categories at this year’s Celtic Media Festival.

Highlights include landmark documentary Trusadh: Afro-Gàidheil, (MacTV) in which musician and actor Cass Ezeji explores her cultural identity as a young Gaelic speaking Black woman in Scotland, which has been nominated for both best episode in a Factual Series and is also in the running for the coveted Spirit of the Festival award.

BBC ALBA’s ever popular traditional music coverage has also been recognised, with lockdown made Cuirm @ Celtic: Duncan Chisholm (Beezr Studios) securing a nomination in the Live Music category. Continuing the music theme, HG Productions’ documentary God Save the Quine, looking at some of Scotland’s best female musicians and their rise to fame has secured a nomination in the Factual Entertainment Category.

Independent production company Sgeul Media, based in Glasgow, has received two nominations for it’s poignant and important documentaries; Dystonia: Beatha air Fhiaradh follows the story of DK MacPhee, who has suffered for most of his life with the condition dystonia, and his search for treatment, and Ceòl is Cràdh examines the mental toil that the music industry can have through the eyes of some of Scotland’s premiere traditional musicians.

BBC Radio nan Gàidheal content has also been recognised with 6 nominations, including its insightful coverage of the Euro 2020 tournament Ailig aig na Euros, landmark short radio drama Danns a’ Rathaid and detailed retrospective look at the collapse of the BCCI bank Staing BCCI – ‘S Iomadh rud buidhe ‘s chan e an t-òr.

The winners of this years coveted Celtic Media Festival Torc Awards will be announced in June at the International Summit of Sound and Screen in Quimper, Brittany.

A full list of BBC ALBA and BBC Radio nan Gàidheal nominations is available below, but for more information, head to https://www.celticmediafestival.co.uk.

BBC ALBA Nominations BBC Radio nan Gàidheal Nominations
Factual Entertainment

God Save the Quine

History

Teàrlach Ceannadach: A Good Man Speaking

Music

Cuirm @ Celtic: Duncan Chisholm

Children’s

Alba Eagalach – Witch Trials

Sol

Factual Series

Trusadh – Afro-Gàidheil

Short form

Ardan ‘s Aineolas: Soidhnichean

Arts

Ceòl is Cràdh

Single Documentary

Beatha air Fhiaradh

Spirit of the Festival

Trusadh Afro-Gàidheil

Radio Music Programme

Siubhal gu Seachd

Radio Documentary

Ailig aig na Euros

Staing BCCI- ‘S Iomadh rud buidhe ‘s chan e an t-òr.

Radio Sports

Spòrs na Seachdain

Radio Drama

Danns a’ Rathaid

Radio Station of the Year

BBC Radio nan Gàidheal

Transformational Gaelic learning initiative SpeakGaelic steps up to Second Stage

Having had over 250,000 plays of its media content since the launch of its first stage last year, the SpeakGaelic multiplatform learning project now moves to its second stage.

This will see it offer its unrivalled multiplatform Gaelic learning materials to Gaelic users who are ready to take the next step in their Gaelic journey.

SpeakGaelic offers a unique integrated learning model, with the content and progression based on a European standard (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages). The materials which form its foundation are authored by the National Centre for Gaelic Language and Culture, Sabhal Mòr Ostaig.

Programmes are available on BBC iPlayer, BBC Sounds as well as on the BBC ALBA channel, and its presence on YouTube ensures global availability. Self-guided online learning is possible through the SpeakGaelic website, alongside all of the classroom materials. SpeakGaelic is also supported by imaginative social media content.

Face-to-face learning is also available, with local Gaelic classes and tutors adopting SpeakGaelic as the backbone to their teaching, catering to those seeking a more structured learning environment with additional media content providing an even more immersive experience.

SpeakGaelic is being delivered by a partnership between MG ALBA, Sabhal Mòr Ostaig and the BBC, and is funded by Bòrd na Gàidhlig, the Scottish Government, MG ALBA and the BBC.

The first stage of the project (A1), aimed at complete beginners, was launched in October 2021, and now the second stage (A2), aimed at both A1 graduates and those who have previous knowledge of Gaelic but need a refresher, launches today, March 14.

BBC presenters and social media stars, Joy Dunlop and Calum Maclean lead SpeakGaelic.

Joy Dunlop, from the village of Connel in Argyll, is familiar to many who watch BBC Scotland and BBC ALBA as a regular weather presenter, musician and programme contributor.

Calum Maclean is known to social media regulars for his outdoors content (including his unforgettable ‘midge challenge’) and in BBC ALBA’s Dhan Uisge, he showcases his passion for wild swimming in the seas, lochs and rivers around Scotland.

Iseabail Mactaggart, SpeakGaelic Project Director and Director of Multiplatform Content at MG ALBA, said: “SpeakGaelic is the biggest project ever aimed at helping adults take up – and improve – their Gaelic and aims at being a game-changer for the learning and usage of Gaelic.

“It’s hugely important that we make it as easy as possible to learn Gaelic, and for those who already have Gaelic, to grow in confidence in its usage, and offering this multiplatform approach allows individuals, classes and institutions to choose their preferred route, with complementary content available whenever they need it.

“It’s vital for the future of Gaelic – and for its role in a modern, diverse Scotland – that we build confidence in all of the language’s speakers, whether they are new or lapsed or already fluent and seeking to consolidate. As each stage of SpeakGaelic comes on stream, we very much hope that all those with an interest in using their Gaelic find the material and content that suits them, wherever and however they learn, so that we help them grow in confidence.”

Sign up for more information today at www.speakgaelic.scot or follow the SpeakGaelic social media pages – Instagram, Twitter, Facebook & TikTok.

Winners of Gaelic Film Competition FilmG

The winners of this year’s prestigious Gaelic short film competition FilmG 2022 have been announced tonight (Friday, February 25) in a special awards ceremony on BBC ALBA.

Many of the winners across the 17 prize categories were brought into the FilmG studio by video link to accept their award and chat with programme hosts and competition stalwarts Fiona MacKenzie and Niall Iain MacDonald.

The specially created awards programme will be shown on BBC ALBA at 9pm tonight (Friday, February 25) and is available to watch on the BBC iPlayer for 30 days afterwards.
Films followed this year’s competition theme Lorg, which means search, find or trace, and with over 90 filmmakers attempting to find the winning formula, the judges had a tough job whittling down the entries over multiple days.
Parker Dawes (14), a pupil at Ardnamurchan High School in West Lochaber, scooped three awards – Best Young Filmmaker, Best Film Fluent Speakers and Best Production, for his slapstick spy thriller Spies-R-Us.

Parker said: “We chose the spy topic because it was opposite to the film we made last year which didn’t win any prizes.

“We were interested to see if an action film could get different results – and it worked! I created a storyboard and we had crash mats so everything was well planned.

“I’ve always loved filmmaking and I’ve always looked up to FilmG . I’m really happy to get these awards because my friends and I were so sad when we didn’t win last year. It was great to be on that podium as a winner.”

An animation by Alina Brust from Edinburgh won ‘Best Film’ in the Open Category, the first time an animation has won this prize in FilmG.

‘An Taigh Solais’ follows a shepherd who is trying to find a lost sheep and has to shelter with her flock in an abandoned lighthouse to escape a storm. Due to the pandemic Alina had no access to university facilities so she made the entire film in her bedroom.

Alina (23) said: “I’m inspired by the Scottish landscape and coastline, especially the lighthouse and the cliffs around St. Abbs, one of my favourite places. And a lighthouse is a perfect setting for a weird and spooky story.

“Making this film was a great opportunity to combine my two passions of art and languages.

“I’m so grateful that all my hard work has paid off – as a Gaelic learner it feels like such a special achievement for me.”

Scooping the prize for Best Production (Under 12), Coignear air Chall (5 Lost Souls) by Sandbank Primary School in Dunoon follows five school friends as they take a spooky journey to one of the town’s historic landmarks.

A film about hillwalking and scrambling as a way to get a new perspective on the world from beyond the cold, dark glens and high above the clouds, ‘Thar Nan Sgòth – Beinn Eighe’ (Above the Clouds – Beinn Eighe) by Anndra Cuimeanach from Gairloch secured the prize for Best Documentary (12-17).

In the Open category a short documentary called ‘A’ Mhuir’ (The Sea) about wild swimming by the students at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig in the Isle of Skye who take part in the sport, has picked up two separate awards, Film Duthchais and Best Director (Anna Garvin).

Emily Murray (21), from Lewis, accepted the FilmG award on behalf of the class.

She said: “Taking part in FilmG was a good opportunity to practice the skills we had learned in class, such as camera, sound and editing.”

Anna Garvin (23) from Oban, who is studying Gaelic in Media at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig in Skye, said: “I feel very honoured to have won this. It was my first time directing and I learnt so much about the skills needed to direct from working on this film.

“Entering FilmG was a great opportunity to use all the technical and production skills we had learnt so far to create a film that would be shown to a public audience.”

‘Am Buaile Dubh’ which takes a look around Am Buaile Dubh on the outskirts of Inverness, has secured the Best Performance award for the film’s producer and narrator, Eòghan Stiùbhart.

Eòghan (40), from Inverness, is a Gaelic teacher with over 5k followers on Instagram for his Scottish Gaelic learning videos. He’s also an advocate for men’s mental health.

He said: “I went to Am Buaile Dubh a lot through lockdown, it’s a great place to be outdoors and get exercise. It allows me to be in a little world of my own and helps my mental health.

“For this film I wrote a monologue about what the place means to me and paired this with my own and old images and maps to illuminate the place.

“Winning this award was a surprise and honour, it was really cool to win the big metal G.”

And ‘Eilean Lois’ (Lois’s Island) by Somhairle MacIain from Kirkintilloch, East Dunbartonshire, which follows him and his girlfriend, Lois, as they cycled the Hebridean Way in the summer and he teaches her to speak Gaelic on the trip won them the award for Best Student Film.

Former Bishopbriggs Academy pupil, Sorley (19), who is studying Gaelic Media at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, Skye, said: “I entered FilmG because I wanted to showcase a film that I had made myself while I was still on my course and had access to all the editing equipment and software.

“I’m planning on putting the prize money towards a camera of my own so I can continue to make films after my course finishes.”

Debbie Mackay, Project Manager at CGS who deliver the project said: “It was another great year for entries, and we were especially impressed by the high level of storytelling and filmmaking skills amongst our youth categories. As the competition continues to grow, we see filmmakers push themselves to a higher standard year after year. It’s a privilege to be a part of the project.

Iseabail Mactaggart, Director of Multi-platform Content at MG ALBA said: “FilmG has always been so important to Gaelic media as a whole and also to the individual filmmakers and groups who take part year after year.

“Seeing the talent coming through the ranks and refining their craft in order to pick up one of the coveted prizes is gratifying for all involved in Gaelic media and testament to our ambition to continue to nurture an unrivalled Gaelic-speaking talent base both in front of, and behind the camera for years to come.”

All films from this year’s competition are available to watch on the FilmG website: www.filmg.co.uk

BBC ALBA to broadcast Scotland Women’s pivotal Rugby World Cup Qualifier

Scotland will be competing for the last remaining place at New Zealand Women’s Rugby World Cup as they face off against either Colombia or Kazakhstan at The Sevens Stadium, Dubai on February 25th.

The Scotland side’s opponents will be confirmed on the 19th of February after Colombia and Kazakhstan battle it out to get through to this final crucial qualifier.

Full match coverage and commentary from Hugh Dan Maclennan will be on BBC ALBA from 15.00 on Friday 25 February.

For more info about the game, squad and wider tournament, see https://bit.ly/34ew7qT

Young Trad Finals on BBC ALBA & BBC Radio Scotland

The final of BBC Radio Scotland’s Young Traditional Musician of the Year 2022 will be broadcast on BBC ALBA & BBC Radio Scotland this Sunday, February 6.

Gaelic broadcaster Joy Dunlop and Travelling Folk’s Bruce MacGregor introduce coverage from the finals, with six talented young musicians competing for the prestigious title, as part of this year’s Celtic Connections festival.

Hailing from across the country, with a diverse background of musical styles and influences, the finalists are:

• Breanna Wilson, Fiddle, Glasgow
• Malachy Arnold, Clarsach, Glasgow
• Eryn Rae, Fiddle, Borders
• Saffron Hanvidge, Gaelic Song, Inverness
• Malin Lewis, Highland Bagpipe, Skye
• Sophie Joint, Piano, Glasgow

Margaret Cameron, Commissioning Editor and Head of Creative Partnerships at MG ALBA said: “The wealth of traditional music showcased on BBC ALBA every year is one of the things that makes it stand out as a such a valuable cultural asset, showcasing the best in the business and supporting our creative musicians in bringing their voices to audiences across the country, and the BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year contest is no different, bringing these up and coming stars to listeners and watchers looking for the cream of the crop in the traditional music scene.

“Our broadcast partnership with BBC Radio Scotland continues to be fruitful as we bring these finals to BBC ALBA for the third year in a row.”

Simon Thoumire, Creative Director at Hands Up For Trad, who organise the competition, said: “It’s so exciting to have the BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician Award Finals broadcast live on BBC ALBA. this gives an opportunity for a whole new audience to hear the wealth of young talent that is in Scottish Trad music.”

BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year will be broadcast on both BBC ALBA and BBC Radio Scotland from 17.00 Sunday 6 February and available again on the BBC iPlayer and BBC Sounds afterwards.

Visit www.bbc.co.uk/youngtrad for more about the competition.