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24 September 2014
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Celebrating Scotland's History

Scotland's History is a new multi-platform project from BBC Scotland to bring the country's history to life on screen, the internet and radio. It will be backed up by a programme of events and a series of concerts at historic locations.


Spearheading the project is a new landmark 10-part television series, A History Of Scotland, which will start on BBC Scotland in November this year, with a screening on network BBC Two at a later date.


A History Of Scotland, co-produced with the Open University and shot in high definition, will use dramatic photography to capture the best of Scotland's varied and breath-taking landscapes, iconic landmarks, monuments and historic architecture, picking up on the richness of the country's heritage as well as its major characters and influences.


Presented by Neil Oliver, A History Of Scotland will be broadcast in two parts.


The first five episodes will transmit this winter, starting with the origins of Scotland and ending with the Unions of the Crowns in 1603.


The second part, which will go out late next year, takes the story from the Covenanting movement through the Treaty of the Union right up to devolution.


Although the series will be chronological, each episode will also tackle a theme such as Scotland's sense of identity or latterly its contribution to the wider world.


Archaeologist, broadcaster and writer Neil Oliver says: "What better time could there be to look again at Scotland's past, with people openly questioning the future of the Union and Britain?


"It is a great time for debate about Scotland's identity and I passionately believe if you care about Scotland's future you have to understand its past.


"It's a gripping tale.with a cast of characters that is hard to beat, set against a landscape that is second to none."


Neil also believes that the time is right for a radical re-think of the general approach to Scottish history. He says: "The beauty of Scotland is overwhelming but I've often thought that Scotland's popular history is just like her landscape.impossibly romantic, obscured by mist and myth and always changing.


"Over the centuries, the romantic version has been of a 'lost cause' - the tragic victim - but this isn't history, it's Scottish mythology and this series is looking to explode the myths.


"We've lost touch with the past. I care passionately about this country and, on a very personal level as a Scot, I really want to understand its complex past, to get to the real story of what has made us the people we are today."


BBC Scotland Controller Ken MacQuarrie says: "Scotland's History is one of our most ambitious projects ever. It is mapping the history of Scotland in a way that is entirely relevant to modern Scots and Scotland, and will provide an ongoing legacy to entertain and inform the Scots of the future.


"A History Of Scotland will be a visual feast but also a cornerstone of reference for years to come. Neil Oliver is a Scottish archaeologist with a passion for our history and behind the scenes there is also a raft of top history consultants bringing authoritative and fresh insight to the subject.


"We will have accompanying radio programmes and the website will live on beyond the television and radio programmes, providing information but also a focal point for the audience to add their contributions."


Richard Downes, series producer of A History Of Scotland, says: "There has been a renaissance of interest in Scottish history in the last 15 to 20 years amongst academics and we are aiming to bring that to a wider audience.


"We are looking to get beyond the myths, to get an honest portrayal of the history of Scotland rather than its perceived history, its position not only in terms of the situation here but Scotland's wider influence.


"The general perception has always tended to be of a country on the periphery, but the initial work on this series has brought it home to me that Scotland has been pivotal in a wider context from its crucial part in the creation of Britain to its contribution to the outside world."


Dr Ian Donnachie, Reader in History at The Open University in Scotland, and academic advisor for the series, says: "This is a highly significant development as it comes at a time when Scottish public history has a higher profile than ever before.


"The series, with its innovative techniques of presentation, and lively engagement with controversial personalities and events, will open up the Scottish past afresh to a huge audience and heighten people's desire to know more.


"The Open University in Scotland is delighted to be associated with this prestigious series which will not only enhance interest in Scotland's past but also help explain much about the country today".


Under the umbrella of the broader Scotland's History project, a new website will phase in alongside the series, building up to an interactive timeline of the country's past as a home for BBC Scotland's new and archive history content, providing on-demand access to rich video, audio and interactive elements.


It will contain maps, timelines, audio-tours, listings, a 'history mystery' game, a vehicle for public contributions and a dedicated educational section for learners and teachers.


BBC Radio Scotland is planning several new major series and strands to tie-in with the weblaunch of Scotland's History.


These range from What You Didn't Learn At School - looking at events which have slipped off the educational radar, alongside a topically relevant examination of the teaching of Scottish history - to The Gaelic/Lowland History Of Scotland and Scottish History - The Missing Bits on iconic objects from Scottish history which have literally gone missing.


Other programmes are also in the pipeline. Off-screen activity will include a major series of BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra concerts, which will be held during the two-year life of the series, at historic locations, showcasing music from the television series alongside a celebration of Scottish music through the centuries. These concerts will be supported by Registers of Scotland as part of its public engagement activities.


Roadshows and other events are also being planned. BBC Scotland is also working closely on the project with external organisations, including Historic Scotland, VisitScotland, the National Trust for Scotland and the Scottish Association of History Teachers.







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Category: BBC Two; Scotland
Date: 06.03.2008
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