BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.

29 October 2014
Scotland on Film

BBC Homepage
»Scottish History
Scotland on Film

film/radio clips

broadband player
by theme
by location
a to z




Site guide

Live Chats

Web Guide

Nation on Film

BBC History


Contact Us

Welcome to the Scotland on Film website

If you missed the Live Chat with David Peat, Producer of the series Scotland on Film, and Janet McBain, curator of the Scottish Screen Archive, here is what they both had to say:

Question from Cris: I don't live in Scotland and have never heard of the archive. Can you tell me a bit about it?

Janet:The archive was established 25 years ago and our job is to rescue and preserve films that reflect all aspects of Scottish life in the 20th century. Most of the films in our archive are non-fiction - documentaries, news reels, public info, sponsor films, amateur home movies, educational and industrial films.
For further information, please see the website and there's a subsection on the archive.

Susie Maguire: I've missed most of the series, but tonight I heard my late father's voice (Leonard Maguire) narrating a 1950s film on Glenrothes - can you confirm ?

David: Yes it is indeed Leonard Maguire. And we may well have played as children!!

Janet: There's another film called Glasgow's Docklands from 1959, also narrated by Leonard and we also have a film called the Great Mill Race in which he also plays a part. If Susie would be interested in copies on video, please contact us at the archive.

Question from Findlay Hickey: Do you have any plans to release the series on video?

David: We are at present in talks with the hope that something might be published in the autumn.

Question from Chris Cavanagh: Do you sell archive material for broadcast overseas?

Janet: Yes! We do a lot of work with broadcast companies across the world and we do have a commercial enquiries facility.

Question from Rosie: How much archive did you have to look through to find the stuff you wanted?

David: It took our researcher 6 months viewing of anything up to 500 films. Because often we were looking for a shot which you would not expect to find under the title or subject matter of the film. So often we might find one shot from one film that was important for a sequence.

Question from Findlay Hickey: How did you trace the people who gave their stories to accompany the films?

David: We only actually achieved this in two instances. One was a film of a wedding in Ballater when we tracked the bride by asking locally. The other which was in tonight's final programme, The New Day film about Glenrothes - we traced the people by advertising in the local paper. We hoped to have achieved more but it is a very time-consuming process. However a number of people have phoned in after transmission telling us that they recognised people, usually their parents. I rather hoped that tonight's immigration sequence would reveal some of those who were leaving Britain in the 60s.

Question from Scot McMaster: Do you intend to produce another of these astounding series?

David: With compliments like that, it's very tempting. Over the next month we are looking at possible themes for a second series. There is certainly ample film in the archive to support a second series, it is just a question of finding the themes to bring them together.

Question from Mary M: Does the Scottish Screen Archive ever show these films to public? And if so do you visit areas outside Glasgow?

teacher in classroomJanet: Yes, from time to time, the archive presents public film shows at various venues throughout Scotland. In the cities we use the local film theatres e.g. Glasgow's GFT, Dundee DCA. In May, we will be in Hawick and Falkirk. In June, in Helensburgh in the mobile cinema 'The Screen Machine'. For details contact the archive. Our email address is Hope to see you at one of the shows!

Question from Rosie:
What was your favourite programme of the lot?

David: I have two favourites. One called Living and Loving, about relationships, sex and marriage, and the one called Working Life. The reason is that the living and loving programme covered such a wide range of emotions, from joy to despair and that the working life programme touched on a way of life that has completely disappeared.

Janet: I would share Working Life as one of my favourites. It was largely down to miner, Drew Hennessy and his account of conditions underground in mines.

Question from Ian Douglas: Are you still looking for original material? I know a retired doctor with 16mm he shot of various subjects shortly after the war?

Janet: The archive is continually looking for more film and indeed video for its collection. What we will collect today will become the archive material of the future. Even if the footage is fairly recent, it will become history in due course.
Our only criteria is that the material should relate to some aspect of Scottish life.

David: And if you were the Ian in the programme then thank you for your input. I hope you've enjoyed it.

Question from Julie: How did the idea for the programme come about?

Janet: We were conscious that there was a great deal of film in the archive which had never been seen. And we suggested to BBC Scotland that a collaboration between us would be a very fruitful way of bringing film material out of the box and onto the TV screens where it could be enjoyed and seen by large numbers of people.

David: From this motivation, provided by the archive, we simply had to view many, many films, choose some themes, and set about finding some characters around Scotland who could reflect on some of the gems that the archive holds.

Question from Carole Hindman: During the series, there seems to have been a lot more info on West coast locations than East. Is this because you have more material from there?
(I live in Dundee and would have been v. interested in more history of this city & surrounding areas)

David: This is a very fair question. It has been extraordinary to notice that the west coast of Scotland and Glasgow is far, far better covered than the east coast. I cannot explain this except that the deprivation in Glasgow appears to have attracted many filmmakers and public info films. The outer isles of the west coast have similarly attracted a different kind of filmmaker, intrigued by remote locations.

Janet: There are quite a number of films in the archive covering Edinburgh but they tend to reflect the tourism industry, as opposed to the city that ordinary inhabitants would experience.

David: Possibly in series two, Edinburgh will get a fairer crack at the whip. It does not in any way reflect our bias, particularly as the curator is from Edinburgh!! Simply that the richest vein was from the west.

BBC Host: There are some clips about the Dundee Jute mills on the Scotland on Film website Carole. We’ll give out the URL at the end of the chat.

David: Some of our best material that related to the east coast was reflected in the working life programme, which touched on the wonderful Dundee Jute industry and the herring industry. Plus, some of the earliest footage in the archive is from Aberdeen. So like the sun, the east coast is up first!!

Question from Findlay Hickey: You covered emigration as a theme this evening. Are you considering covering immigration?

David: Yes, we had intended to cover immigration. However, we could find only one film in the archive that touched on this theme. There was insufficient material within this film to do the subject justice. It was a great disappointment not to be able to counterpoint the emigration sequence with immigration, considering the many people from many races who have come to live in Scotland.

Question from Connie Lawrie: You managed to evoke exactly the right atmosphere by using appropriate music .well done!

David: Thank you for that thought. Like trawling through the archive, finding the right music took many hours but some of the pain was relieved by using the music from the films themselves.

Question from Willie: Janet, how did your interest in film start?

Janet: At school our history teacher showed us the film Night Mail (about the postal express train). At university, I studied Scottish history and I found that my passion for history and my affection for that early black and white film came together. The job I was lucky enough to get was as the first curator of the Scottish film archive.

David: Scotland should be grateful!

Janet: That was when the archive was established in 1976. Since then it's been a classic case of a square peg finding her square hole!

Question from Nick: Is there anything that you haven't got in the archive that you would love to find?young girls typing in classroom

Janet: There are two films that we would very much like to find. Both are Scottish feature films. One is the first ever Scottish feature film, made in 1911 and it is a version of Rob Roy. The second one was made in 1921 called Fitba' Daft, which I can only describe as the Trainspotting of the 1920's. Both films were very popular when they were released but so far have not been found. We would love to finally locate them if they do exist.

David: So please shut down your computers and retire to the attic!! Thank you all for making joining us tonight.

More Chats...

Gordon Highlander William Young and Chindit Stanley Rothney Gordon Highlander William Young and Chindit Stanley Rothney joined us after the transmission of a VJ Day special, 'VJ Heroes - Scotland's Jungle War' on Saturday 13th August 2005 to answer questions from those who watched. Read the transcript of Ask about WW2 in the Far East.


About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy