Documentaries

Last updated: 22 july, 2009 - 14:27 GMT

Community and Society

Across the Water

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Nick Rankin travels to Fair Isle, one of the most remote inhabited islands in the British Isles, to see how newcomers find their place in a small and tight-knit community – on a rocky island which is too windy for trees to grow on, one of the Shetland Islands way north of the Scottish mainland, where the Atlantic Ocean meets the North Sea.


At times in the last century Fair Isle's population became so low that there was talk of evacuation, as happened on the island of St Kilda.

The Hyndman family of Fair Isle (Pic: Tommy Hyndman)

Henry, Liz and Tommy have fit in very well on Fair Isle

But Fair Isle is an outward looking island which has always traded things like its famous patterned knitwear, and its community has survived because of its capacity to absorb newcomers and make them its own.

In Sepember 2005, the Fair Isle community of around 65 people advertised for a family to join them, and after interest from all over the world, Tommy Hyndman, a hat maker from Saratoga Springs, New York, his wife Liz Musser and their young son Henry were the successful applicants.

Nick Rankin talks to them and other incomers of different generations to Fair Isle about creating a life there, as well as to the 'indigenous' islanders they have joined.

Across the Water is part of Global Perspective, the BBC World Service international documentary series. This year's theme is Islands.

First broadcast on 24 July 2009.

Global Perspective 2009

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