BBC ALBA Shines with Five Nominations at RTS Scotland Awards

BBC ALBA has garnered five nominations at this year’s RTS Scotland Awards, a prestigious event that honours outstanding talent, skills, and creativity in Scottish TV production. These awards are regarded as the benchmark for excellence in the television industry.

The nominations span five categories: Live Event, Documentary and Specialist Factual: Arts & History, Camera, Children’s and Young Journalist presented in memory of George Sinclair.

Margaret Cameron, Director of Content for MG ALBA, said:

“It’s a testament to the consistent high quality of programming created for BBC ALBA that five entries spanning a range of different genres were nominated for RTS Scotland Awards this year. It’s particularly encouraging to see young talent being recognised, with nominations for both Hamish MacLeod and Ailean Beaton in their respective fields. Additionally, we’re delighted that BBC ALBA’s live music and children’s programmes are being acknowledgedas a reflection of the excellent content we have on the channel. Our congratulations to all of the RTS Scotland 2024 nominees. We look forward to finding out the outcome in the coming weeks.”

Here is the full list of BBC ALBA nominations:

Live Event | Cuirm @ Celtic: Celtic Connections at 30 | Beezr Studios
Documentary and Specialist Factual: Arts & History | Bill agus an Spitfire | Corcadal Productions
Camera | Hamish MacLeod | Dàna: Scotland’s Wild Side | Solus Productions
Children’s | An Sgoil: Series 1 | Jamie Kieran, Sarah MacKinnon, Calum MacDonald, Ellen MacDonald | BBC Scotland Productions
Young Journalist presented in memory of George Sinclair | Ailean Beaton

The complete list of nominations can be found here.

The winners will be announced at an awards ceremony hosted by Shereen Cutkelvin and Sanjeev Kohli on Thursday, June 13th, at the Old Fruitmarket in Glasgow.

SpeakGaelic strengthens Nova Scotia connections during “Mìos nan Gàidheal” overseas trip

A team of Scottish Gaelic speakers have embarked on an educational trip to Nova Scotia to strengthen cultural ties with the allied province.

Celebrating Mìos nan Gàidheal, also known as ‘Gaelic Nova Scotia Month’, the team behind SpeakGaelic – MG ALBA’s Scottish Gaelic learning brand – will travel around the province of Nova Scotia to learn from locals and promote the language to those both new to and fluentin Gaelic.

Over the 10-day trip, SpeakGaelic will visit Halifax, Antigonish, Mabou, Judique, Iona and Sydney to build relationships with the diaspora of Gaels in Canada, celebrating the similarities – and differences – of the unique culture and way of life overseas. Sharing insights and showcasing the resources available, it is hoped the trip will help create a new network of Gaelic-speaking contacts on the other side of the Atlantic.

SpeakGaelic online producer Mirren Buchanan, who coordinated the overseas project, said: “Gaelic is not just a language but a culture endowed with a rich heritage of music, folklore and anthropology, and so it’s such an exciting opportunity for us to visit the Scottish Gaelic communities in Nova Scotia to see how this translates, and plays out, in their daily lives.

With amazing SpeakGaelic resources now at our fingertips – and available to those around the world – we hope we can attract and inspire learners and speakers of all ages in Nova Scotia to take up, or brush up, on their Gaelic language skills.”

Sionainn MacMullin, from the Office of Gaelic Affairs at Cape Breton Council, said: “May is Mìos nan Gàidheal in Nova Scotia which is a time to celebrate and promote awareness of the history, culture, language, contributions, and achievements of Gaels across the province, supported by the Office of Gaelic Affairs and Comhairle na Gàidhlig | Gaelic Council of Nova Scotia. 

This year’s theme is ‘Gàidhealach nar Cridhe | Gaelic at Heart!’ so what better way to highlight the history and heritage of Gaelic, which is very much alive today, than with the support of the SpeakGaelic team who will be showcasing just how easy it is to get involved in the language and culture. We hope the series of workshops and events we have planned across the province will encourage all Nova Scotians to engage with Gaelic during the month of May and beyond.”

SpeakGaelic aims to transform the uptake and usage of Gaelic by providing a clear and integrated structure for Gaelic language learning – the most comprehensive approach seen in a generation.

As well as supporting complete beginners, the materials support Gaelic speakers at different levels of fluency to gain confidence to ‘SpeakGaelic’. The exciting and ambitious learning resource offers users in Canada, and across the world, a variety of services from self-guided online learning to media content available through YouTube and social media.

Find out more about SpeakGaelic and start your Scottish Gaelic journey today at

Four new Board Members Welcomed to MG ALBA

MG ALBA, the body responsible for ensuring the availability of high-quality television programmes for audiences in Gaelic, is pleased to welcome four new members to its Board.

David Byrne, Catriona Murray, Lachlan Peel and Calum Steele will join as board members from May 1, 2024. Full biographies of each board member are available below.

The appointments have been agreed by Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, Jenny Gilruth MSP, following a competitive recruitment process led by communications regulator Ofcom in Scotland.

Lisa Annette, Mairi Kidd, Ceit-Anna Macleod and Iain MacMillan each step down at their term on MG ALBA’s Board ends.

John Morrison, chair of MG ALBA, said:

“David, Catriona, Lachlan and Calum bring a wide array of talents, skills and experience from media, broadcasting, the public and private sectors, and we are delighted to welcome them to the Board.

“Through our work on BBC ALBA, FilmG, LearnGaelic and SpeakGaelic, MG ALBA has a vital role in not only facilitating Gaelic media but also promoting development, training and the use of Gaelic in Scotland and beyond – bringing with it huge social and economic benefits.

As a Board, we believe we are ready and able to build on this contribution with further investment and resources and this is a case we look forward to making with the input of our four new board members.

On behalf of the Board and staff and colleagues across the sector, I would also like to thank Lisa, Mairi, Ceit-Anna and Iain who conclude their terms with us. Their involvement has been vital in the success of our activities in recent years and we express gratitude for their time and commitment to serving our audiences.”

New appointees – Biographies

David Byrne

A Gaelic speaker from Inverness, David is an entrepreneur and 360° sustainable travel editor. His expertise has led to broadcast work with the BBC, ITV, and LBC, with his writing appearing in publications such as The Sun and The Scotsman. He is a postgraduate alumnus of Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, where he also worked in a development role before joining BBC Scotland, working on the multi-award winning current affairs programme, Eòrpa. He is currently vice chair of the Hillhead High School War Memorial Trust.

Catriona Murray

A freelance broadcaster, producer and editor with over 35 years of production experience at the BBC with credits as both a producer and presenter on numerous feature programmes on literature, the arts, music, history and language. Catriona is also a published Gaelic author and served as the Chair of the Gaelic Books Council from 2017 – 2021. She is a native Gaelic speaker based in Glasgow.

Lachlan Peel

A product of Gaelic Medium Education, Lachlan currently works for JP Morgan in Edinburgh having graduated from the University of Oxford with a degree in History. During his time at school, Lachlan competed in the short film competition, FilmG, where he won ‘Best Student Film’ and ‘Best Performance’ and has since continued to support the initiative as a judge.

Calum Steele

A recognised senior leader having spent fifteen years as General Secretary of the Scottish Police Federation until 2023, where he developed and influenced policy both in Scotland and globally, including the merger that created the Police Service of Scotland. Prior to this, Calum was a police constable and remains on the International Council of Police Representative Associations. He is a native Gaelic speaker currently based in Dollar.

BBC ALBA sparks creativity with new DIY competition series

Meet the contestants of Dùbhlain DIY (Instructions Not Included)

Get ready for an electrifying DIY showdown this spring as amateur Scottish duos go head-to-head in a brand new TV challenge series, Dùbhlain DIY (Instructions Not Included).

Airing each Monday at 8.30pm from 6 May, the five-part BBC ALBA original series will follow six pairs – made up of married couples, family members and friends – as they compete for a £2,000 cash prize and the ‘Dùbhlain DIY champions’ title.

Inspiring the nation to ‘do it yourself’ in the name of sustainability, the innovative format will see rookie pairs battle it out in a series of home renovation tasks – with a twist. Without any instructions, demonstrations or even guidelines to follow, the couples will need to bring their differing strengths and creative talents to the competition to see who measures up.

Some may shine while others fall flat as they face a variety of themed challenges, but everything is to play for with one couple being eliminated each week, putting their skills – and relationships – to the test.

Hailing from across Scotland, the Dùbhlain DIY (Instructions Not Included) contestants include:

  • Isle of Lewis and BBC Radio Nan Gàidheal pals, actor Marisa MacDonald and An Lot crofter Donald “Sweeny” MacSween;
  • Hebridean siblings, solicitor Isabel Macleod (from Carloway, now based in Stornoway) and Royal National Mòd ‘Traditional’ gold medallist, Tormod Macleod (from Carloway);
  • Lewis-based spouses, wife and mum-of-four Marie Duke (originally from Skye) and her film editor husband Paul (originally from Newtonmore);
  • Glasgow-based friends, singer Josie Duncan (from Laxdale) and artist and content creator Choirstaidh Iona McArthur (from Greenock);
  • Retired twin sisters from the Isle of Lewis, Donna Barden and Mina Nicolson; and
  • South Uist cousins studying in Glasgow, Alasdair Campbell and Calum MacMillan (raised in Bornais)

From basic flat pack furniture to their own creations made out of recycled materials, their imagination will be allowed to run riot, before being tempered by materials, time constraints and often, their own abilities.

Dùbhlain DIY competitor, Tormod Macleod said: “I do occasionally try my hand at DIY. I have built flatpacks like everyone else and have built a couple of basic raised beds for my garden. I do try to fix things when needed as well but I’m certainly not a professional.”

Hoping to learn a few things along the way, his solicitor sister Isabel Macleod added: “I learnt a lot from my dad – he was a fisherman, joiner and builder and could turn his hand to anything. I would often spend time helping him make and repair things but wish I’d learnt more! I always attempt to fix things around the house as I don’t like how wasteful society is. Not sure if I’m very good at some tasks but it’s always worth a try!”

Hosted by TV and radio presenter Derek “Pluto” Murray, alongside main judge musician Iain “Spanish” MacKay – a skilled joiner by trade – the Gaelic duo ensure there will be plenty of laughs along the way. Enlisting the help of an expert guest judge each week, viewers can join in with the excitement and exasperation as the couples vie for the title, with a display of improvisation at its best.

Presenter Derek “Pluto” Murray said: “Get ready for the ultimate test of creativity, ingenuity, and skill with our new DIY competition, pitching challenges with the twist of “instructions not included” – as if flat pack furniture building wasn’t stressful enough! Although the competitors lack in instructions, they excel in enthusiasm and craic.”

Judge Iain “Spanish” MacKay added: “It’s a celebration of the country’s DIY culture – whether an amateur enthusiast or someone who has had to pick up a hammer out of necessity, Dùbhlain DIY will give the viewers something they can relate to, even if it’s just seeing the sheer frustration of attempting even the most basic of DIY tasks. While offering feel-good escapism, we hope it’ll inspire those at home to get out there and start a new project of their own.”

But which couple can prove to the nation that they have what it takes to be the first ever ‘Dùbhlain DIY champions’ and still remain friends?

A joint project between Demus and Seaglass Productions, Dùbhlain DIY (Instructions Not Included) premieres on BBC ALBA and BBC iPlayer on Monday 6 May at 8.30pm (in Gaelic with English subtitles), with weekly episodes available every Monday evening. Watch live or on demand:

Sorcha Groundsell announced as lead for high-end BBC ALBA crime drama as filming begins on Isle of Harris

BBC ALBA has revealed the cast for brand-new TV crime thriller, An t-Eilean (The Island), with acclaimed Scottish actor Sorcha Groundsell taking the lead role.

Gaelic-speaking Sorcha Groundsell (His Dark Materials, Clique, Shetland and Netflix’s The Innocents) will play PC Kat Crichton, a police family liaison officer who returns to her home island as part of the investigation into a brutal and inexplicable murder.

Brought up in Ness on the Isle of Lewis, Sorcha moved to Glasgow at the age of nine to attend the Glasgow Gaelic School. Here, she took up drama classes at the Citizens Theatre and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland before moving to London to pursue her acting career. Sorcha broke out in the States in 2018 with her starring role in the Netflix science fiction series The Innocents.

Sorcha Groundsell said: “I’m thrilled to be part of this incredible series and honoured to participate in breaking new ground for the Gàidhlig language. I have been hoping to find an opportunity to bring this element of my personal life, which means so much to me, into my professional work. I can’t think of a better project than An t-Eilean (The Island) to do so. This show feels like a momentous opportunity for us Gaels to share the language, culture and scenery we love so much with the wider world.”

Iain Macrae (Bannan, Outlander and Crowdie and Cream) has been confirmed to play self-made millionaire, Sir Douglas MacLean, while Sagar Radia (Industry, The Good Karma Hospital and Unicorns) will play the role of lead police investigator, DCI Ahmed Halim. The dysfunctional Maclean siblings will be played by Sinead Macinnes (Outlander and A90), and Skye-born actors Meredith Brook (Bannan) and Sam James Smith (Royal Conservatoire of Scotland’s Faustus: That Damned Woman). And in his first ever TV role, Andrew Macinnes from the Isle of Lewis has been confirmed in the part of Sir Douglas’ eldest son and black sheep of the family, Calum.

Edinburgh-based actor, writer and filmmaker Elspeth Turner (Riptide and Marram) will portray Sir Douglas’ murdered wife, Mary. Also appearing in supporting roles will be well-known South Uist actor Daibhidh Walker (Mara: The Seal Wife, An Clò Mòr and Bannan), Lewis-born Tormod Macleod and Carina Macleod, and exciting newcomer Sharyn Ferguson.

The spectacular Amhuinnsuidhe Castle in Harris will be the main location with filming also taking place across Harris, Lewis and Glasgow.

Arabella Page Croft, executive producer at Black Camel Pictures, the producers of An t-Eilean (The Island), said: “We’re thrilled to be working with Sorcha and the rest of the talented An t-Eilean (The Island) cast on this exciting new drama series. Packed full of complex and provocative characters, and set against the stunning Hebridean landscape, we can’t wait for viewers both at home and abroad to be swept away by what we hope is a must-see, ambitious crime thriller.”

BBC ALBA announced the groundbreaking project last month as the biggest Gaelic drama series in the broadcaster’s history, set to hit international screens in 2025 with support from global distributor All3Media International.

David Swetman from All3Media International, said: “We’re delighted to be working with Black Camel Pictures and BBC ALBA on this gripping crime thriller. This is our first Gaelic project and we’re excited to bring the unique and dramatic Hebridean culture, language and landscape to a global audience.”

Co-written by screenwriter/creator Nicholas Osborne (producer of Remember Me and License to Wed) and screenwriter, Patsi Mackenzie (Buidheagain and An Clò Mòr), and directed by Tom Sullivan (Arracht), An t-Eilean (The Island) sees four troubled siblings gather at their family home in the Outer Hebrides as their father is questioned over the mysterious death of their mother.

With the cast confirmed and filming now underway, Bill Macleod, Commissioning Editor at BBC ALBA, added: “We’ve brought together an amazing cast of brilliant actors for this ground-breaking project. With the breathtaking Isle of Harris as our setting, An t-Eilean (The Island) will bring Gaelic language, culture and story-telling to audiences around the world.”

BBC ALBA announces first high-end Gaelic drama series set to hit international screens in 2025

Black Camel Pictures will produce An t-Eilean (The Island), created by Nicholas Osborne and co-written by Patsi Mackenzie, with Tom Sullivan as director

BBC ALBA has commissioned a brand-new TV crime thriller (4 x 60’) which will be the biggest and most high-profile Gaelic drama series in the channel’s history.

With a budget of over £1 million per episode, the ambitious four-part series, An t-Eilean (The Island), is set to put Gaelic-language drama on the global map with a gripping storyline from screenwriter/creator Nicholas Osborne (producer of Remember Me and License to Wed), co-written by screenwriter Patsi Mackenzie (Buidheagain and An Clò Mòr).

Produced by BAFTA-winning Black Camel Pictures (makers of hit TV show Annika) and directed by Tom Sullivan (best known for his award-winning film Arracht), An t-Eilean (The Island) is set to air to an international audience with support from MG ALBA and global distributor, All3Media International. Development of the project has been supported by Screen Scotland.

Set against the elemental landscape of the Outer Hebrides, An t-Eilean (The Island) is a compelling crime story that follows a family caught up in a murder investigation very close to home. When their mother is found murdered in the family castle, four adult children return to the Scottish island of their birth as their father is questioned over her death.

Bill Macleod, commissioning editor at BBC ALBA, commented: “An t-Eilean is a game-changer for BBC ALBA as our biggest budget and most prestigious TV drama to date.

“We’re in the process of bringing together an amazing cast and breathtaking filming locations to help bring this enthralling Gaelic story to life on a global stage.”

Filming is expected to begin on location against the stunning backdrop of the Western Isles in spring 2024, with more information on casting to be confirmed in the coming weeks.

Arabella Page Croft, executive producer at Black Camel Pictures, said: “We are hugely proud to produce An t-Eilean, another ambitious TV drama series from Black Camel and the first ever high-end Gaelic-language drama made in Scotland!

“It has been such a joy and inspiration to develop this gripping thriller together with BBC ALBA and the whole team are looking forward to beginning principal photography on the spectacular Hebridean isles of Lewis and Harris next month.”

Nominees Announced For Gaelic Short Film Competition

While some may be eagerly awaiting the Baftas and Oscars, Scotland’s Gaelic communities are busy preparing for Gaelic film’s biggest night of the year: the FilmG Awards.

Over 50 films have been shortlisted for the FilmG Awards, a night celebrating the best Gaelic storytellers and filmmakers in Scotland and beyond. Winners will be crowned in categories such as Best Performance, Best Production Design, Technical Excellence, and the Best Film Award.

Leading the way with four nominations in the Under-18 competition is ‘A Bheil Thu An Sin?‘, a psychological drama by the new independent filmmaking group Lost Rollerskate Pictures from Glasgow Gaelic School.

In the Over-18 competition, Inverness charity FC Sonas’s ‘Blàr nan Gàidheal’, which tells the story of the first-ever official football match in Gaelic, also has four nominations, closely followed by Isle of Lewis-based Tormod MacLeod’s funeral farce ‘An Tiodhlaiceadh’ (three nominations).

With the judges’ job now complete, the only categories still to be decided are the FilmG Choice Awards, with the public vote for these categories still open until midnight, 2nd February. Votes can be cast online by the public at

Rachel Kennedy, FilmG Judge and star of hit BBC ALBA drama series An Clò Mòr, said:

“It’s been a record-breaking year for FilmG, with over 160 entries – the highest number of submissions since the competition began. The appetite for the competition is brilliant, but it makes our job as judges incredibly difficult as there is so much talent to choose from. Our shortlist has been carefully considered and showcases the best Gaelic filmmakers based on production, technical ability, and storytelling. From highly skilled animation to tear-jerking documentaries and cutting-edge dramas, the high level of talent, creativity, and effort has been evident in every film shortlisted, and they are all deserved finalists.”

FilmG Project Manager Megan Dale said:

“The theme for this year was “Mo Shealladh’ (My Point of View), and all the entrants embraced this by showcasing different perspectives and playing with form. The shortlisted films show a deep understanding of perspective and the importance of listening to Scotland’s multitude of voices. The nominees represent different perspectives from all over Scotland, including Thurso, Portree, Glasgow, Harris, Lewis, Dunoon, and Inverness. Often, when we think of the film industry, we picture London or Glasgow, but FilmG shows that a wealth of talent can be found in all corners of Scotland (and beyond) and that it is important to encourage these voices to be heard.”

MG ALBA’s Head of Publishing Maggie Taylor said:

“Congratulations to all the nominees this year – it’s wonderful to see such a diverse selection of stories and to acknowledge the skill, talent, and enormous technical effort it takes to bring them alive. The Awards night is where this talent can be recognised, and I’m excited to see who will be crowned FilmG winners on 23rd February. For the first time, the nominees list includes Gaelic filmmakers from the Isle of Man and Canada, showing the international reach of the Gaelic film competition. We hope to continue developing FilmG’s transnational ties and supporting the talented filmmakers emerging across Scotland.”

The FilmG Awards will take place on 23rd February in the Lomond Auditorium of Glasgow’s illustrious SEC. The awards will be live-streamed to YouTube, with a highlights programme to be broadcast two days later on BBC ALBA (Sunday, 25th February.)

Countdown to Christmas with BBC ALBA

Star-studded schedule unveiled as BBC ALBA invites viewers to get ready for the festive season in style 

Cathy MacDonald, Coinneach MacLeod (aka The Hebridean Baker) and Anne McAlpine are among the personalities inviting viewers to get ready to party with BBC ALBA as it reveals a stellar line up for its 2023 festive season schedule.

BBC ALBA has something for everyone this Christmas and New Year with a schedule set to entertain throughout the festive break.

With a line-up of much-loved Gaelic personalities and a host of programmes which promise to deliver a captivating mix of inspiring first-person stories, nostalgic archive, and heart-warming classics, BBC ALBA is the perfect place to celebrate the festive season.

Margaret Cameron, Director of Content at MG ALBA said: “This year, our programming is not just about entertainment; it’s a celebration of all Scotland has to offer. From pure escapism to insightful explorations into real people and real places, the schedule is packed with original programming which promises a diverse and engaging viewing experience.

“With a glittering line up featuring some of the best known and emerging talents in Scotland, we extend a warm invitation to both new and returning audiences to join BBC ALBA this season to embrace our vibrant culture and get to know our ‘famous stars a little bit better.”

The classic Christmas special Alleluia na Nollaig (24 December, 11pm) hosted by Iain MacKinnon, celebrates 100 years of Gaelic broadcasting with readings, reflections and carols. This follows Tuath Cheòl (24 December, 9pm) – a new two-part archive series with singer Ruairidh Gray with highlights from the legendary 90s Gaelic-meets-country music series recorded at the Grand Ole Opry; and Geamannan nan Eilean (23 December, 7.30pm) which looks back at the International Island Games which took place in Guernsey earlier this year.

Christmas Day offers a feel-good double bill, with Bill agus an Spitfire – Bill and the Spitfire (8.30pm) following 90-year-old retired airline pilot Bill as he fulfils his lifelong ambition to fly a Spitfire; viewers are then invited ‘behind the scenes’ with The Hebridean Baker – Bèicear nan Eilean (9pm).

Stunning new short drama Cur is Dlùth – Cloe, Warp and Weft also airs on 25 December (6pm) which follows a young girl’s perilous journey to reach family unity and a colourful future; while 11-year-old Mia achieves her dream of riding the family donkey on the beaches of Lewis in the short documentary, Mia agus Jimmy an t-Asal – Mia and Jimmy the Donkey (6.40pm).

On Boxing Day, Hugh Dan (26 December, 9pm), follows one of Scotland’s most recognisable sports broadcasters. Hanging up his microphone earlier this year after a 40-year career, the documentary shines a spotlight on the life and times of Hugh Dan MacLennan. Ramsay MacMahon sets off on his travels to Vienna to indulge himself in all things Christmas in Mach à Seo! An Roinn Eòrpa (10pm), sampling the festive food and drink on offer at the Christmas markets and local cafes while learning about the age-old traditions; while new Gaelic adaptation of the hit movie Creag nam Buthaidean agus na Caraidean Ùra – Puffin Rock and the New Friends (5pm) provides film fun for all the family as Oona, Baba and friends try to bring a missing egg to the safety of the burrows before it is lost.

Looking towards 2024 with a firm focus on music, Peat & Diesel invite viewers to join them on tour and in life across two roller coaster music documentaries (airing on 28 December and 1 January at 9pm); while Fuaim na Fèisean – Scotland’s Festivals (30 December, 9pm), takes a nostalgic look at the 50-year history of Scotland’s music festivals. Exploring some of the best 2023 events, musician Iain “Spanish” MacKay meets the performers, organisers and fans – braving all kinds of weather – to find out what makes the true ‘festival experience’ today.

Bring in the bells with Cèilidh na Bliadhn’ Ùire (31 December, from 11.30pm), with Cathy Macdonald and Niall Iain Macdonald hosting the live Hogmanay ceilidh from Govan Old Town Hall, with performances from Tide Lines, the Glenfinnan Ceilidh Band, Rachel Walker, Mischa MacPherson, Darren Maclean, Finlay MacDonald and the Binneas Choir, conducted by John Joe MacNeil.

The magic continues into 2024 with the brand new series of An Clò Mòr (from 8 January, 9pm). Season two is set to illuminate the winter evenings, promising even more high drama – and high fashion – against the stunning backdrop of the Western Isles.

The fourth instalment of Druthag na Hearadh – A little drop of Harris (31 December, 8.30pm) visits the Harris Distillery as their first batch of whisky goes on sale, almost eight years after the first spirit was distilled; and Ceòl Sìth (31 December, 9pm) follows musician Ingrid Henderson’s thrilling journey through Scotland’s mythical world of fairies and folklore. The first of a new eight-part series set in the stunning Scottish countryside, sees Ramsay MacMahon join eight guests for a walk during which they reflect on life, love, nature and loss in Rathad Ramsay (Saturdays at 8pm from 6 January).

Tune in to BBC ALBA and iPlayer over the festive period, with all new programming from 23 December. Watch live or on demand: BBC ALBA – website

Christmas comes early for FilmG

Christmas has come early for the Gaelic short film competition, FilmG, with a record-breaking number of entries submitted by filmmakers across Scotland and beyond.  

In total, 162 films have been entered across the 2023 short film competitions, resulting in the highest number of submissions since the competition began in 2008.  

FilmG tasks filmmakers of all ages to create short films in Gaelic based on a different theme each year, this year’s theme being ‘Mo Shealladh’ (My Point of View). The competition and surrounding workshops and activities promotes the development of Gaelic storytellers, providing a path for budding filmmakers to enter the world of Gaelic media.  

FilmG Project Manager Megan Dale said:  

“This is Astar’s second year working with FilmG, and our aim was to enable as many people as possible to create a Gaelic short film whilst making the competitions as appealing as possible to teenagers and young adults. Working with industry experts, we facilitated over 50 FilmG workshops throughout Scotland and beyond, giving communities and schools the tools and confidence to tell their own narratives through short film production.   

This is the largest number of workshops FilmG has ever facilitated, and you can see the positive impact of these workshops in the quality and number of FilmG entries. Many FilmG nominees and winners go on to work professionally within the film and TV industry, so it’s reassuring to see such an appetite for Gaelic storytelling. The future of Gaelic media is looking bright.”  

MG ALBA’s Brands Communication Manager Alison Macdonald said:   

“Congratulations to all the filmmakers who entered this year’s FilmG. The standard is incredibly high and it’s great to see a range of entries from all corners of Scotland. We’ve also had several entries from the Isle of Man and Canada, showing an increased international interest and reinforcing the interest in Gaelic language and culture overseas. Undoubtedly, the FilmG16 Awards ceremony will be the biggest we’ve seen so far and we can’t wait to celebrate the incredible wealth of Gaelic media talent with friends and colleagues in February 2024.”  

The FilmG team is processing the entries before they are available to view on the FilmG website later this month. A panel of independent judges in the media profession will then choose the shortlists of nominees in January 2024, with winners being announced at the FilmG Awards ceremony in Glasgow on Friday, 23 February 2024.

Presenter Cathy MacDonald reveals 1920 novel in new BBC ALBA documentary

Catherine Carswell’s sadly neglected novel reveals the life of a strong-willed and free-thinking young woman brought up in a bourgeois, strict and Presbyterian Glasgow family in Sàr Sgeòil – Open the Door.

The documentary, which is produced by Caledonia TV, focuses on main character Joanna Bannerman, who is born a prisoner of Victorian and Edwardian values, but into a time of possibilities.

Artistic, idealistic and passionate, she breaks free from middle-class, Presbyterian values to pursue love and fulfilment.

However, this story was not just Joanna Bannerman’s, it also belongs to Catherine Carswell, who used the 1920 novel to explore female desire – a taboo subject at the time, especially for a female writer.

Born Catherine Macfarlane in Glasgow in 1879, Carswell was the daughter of two devout Presbyterians who met at an evangelical meeting. George Macfarlane, her father, was an affluent merchant trader and became a town councillor, and both he and his wife Mary Anne were pillars of the church.

In her novel, Catherine’s alter-ego Joanna studies at the Art School, has talent and dreams of earning her living in London. She has a wide circle of friends, one of whom was with writer D.H Lawrence.

In the programme, Cathy spoke to Gerry Carruthers, Professor of English at the University of Glasgow. “This is a new time of frankness,” he said.

Cathy and Gerard Carruthers with a copy of the novel

“It’s a new time of explicitness. Not in a prurient sense, but in the sense that people want to begin to tap in both psychologically and sensually to the body as well as the mind.”

Catherine eventually did move to London, where she supported herself as a journalist and married Donald Carswell, who had loved her from afar for a long time.

Much like Catherine, main character Joanna also followed her dreams in London, using her artistic talent to get by. Her life, like her creator’s, had been very different from the one of a young middle-class woman born at the end of the 19th century.

Catherine Carswell experienced a critical time in the lives of women. Her novel, Open the Door gives a remarkable insight into that changing world, and Cathy MacDonald tells the story in Sàr Sgeòil – Open the Door.

Sàr Sgeòil – Open the Door airs on BBC ALBA on Tuesday 19 September at 9pm and will be available on BBC iPlayer for 30 days after first airing.