From Carl Gorham, creator of cult animation classic Stressed Eric, comes Very Old Pretenders, in which two Jacobite soldiers from 1745 are found alive and well in a cave in Perthshire and have to be integrated into modern society by academic Andrew Merron.
Jack Docherty, Rebecca Front and Gordon Kennedy
Writer and Director Carl Gorham writes...
History and being Scottish - I’ve always had a bit of a thing about both of these even though you couldn’t get much more English than me; I'm formal, totally non tactile, born in Brighton and have even been known to say "gosh".
The company behind this series, Absolutely Productions, is, however, predominantly Scottish. Some of my best friends are Scottish (When Scotland got kicked out of the '86 World Cup by Uruguay I was the first on the phone to them, offering genuine sympathy and righteous indignation - see below).
I'm probably the only Englishman who enjoys watching Braveheart and have found myself muttering on more than one occasion “Well you can see their point of view”. I love Edinburgh and the Highlands. I love the mists and the melancholy. I even love the sound of bagpipes.
I've always been a fan of history too. When other kids wanted to be pilots or spacemen, I firmly declared that I was going to be an actor and historian. When I was nine I bullied my mum into knitting me a mock chain-mail suit. I was so obsessed that after a year, when the poor woman, hands bleeding, came to me having just completed the helmet part, all I could think of to say was "Where’s the rest of it?"
At one time I also used to come down to breakfast each day dressed as a different historical character - ranging from Richard The Lion Heart to Wellington. The whole fad spanned several years and only ended when my Charles I execution shirt, which was ripped and covered in tomato ketchup, went a bit 'off' and stank the house out.
When the chance came for to me to combine these two interests in one series, I leapt at it. Very Old Pretenders is about two Scottish soldiers from hundreds of years ago trying to make sense of today’s world, gadgets, and attitudes.
Each week there is a different theme as the Scots are introduced to modern notions of patriotism, speed dating, therapy and finally the world of TV. The fact that the person doing the introductions is an English academic adds a further level of complication.
Though specific in its setting, hopefully the series is also accessible. There are references to broadswords, clans and bonnets but it is, at heart, about loyalty, love, and social embarrassment.
I know everyone says this but the making of the show really was a joy. Jack Docherty and Gordon Kennedy were naturals for the two feisty leads seeing as they have been arguing with each other since school and I've known the wonderful Rebecca Front since University. The only person I hadn't worked with before was David Haig who was fantastic, thoroughly nice and has the best moustache in show business.
Here is a preview from the show:
And now a word from Producer and actor Gordon Kennedy...
I remember the moment: 1986, coming back to the flat with Jack Docherty, Scotland dumped out of the World Cup again, but this time, more than any other time, WE WAS ROBBED. Appalling Ref, disgustingly filthy Uruguayan team, 0-0.
Out, gone, team at the airport. It was 1am. In the grim darkness of the hallway, heavy with the reek of shattered dreams, a single red light flashed on and off. It was winking at us: come on boys...why don't you listen to the message?
Unsteadily I extended a grimy, beer soaked finger towards the play button...surely a guffawing message from our new English friends...a suitable and deserving repost to us singing the Uber Alles after England got thrashed by Germany in the qualifiers. Something, anything to focus our anger and take our minds off the gaping, vacuous pit of despair before us...
It was Carl..."Hello?...Um, Hi Guys...I just want to say that was a disgrace this evening. You deserved to win, it's terrible, I can't imagine what you must be feeling now...." and so it went on....and on...and on for 20 suffocating minutes.
Nooooooooooooo! Doesn't he understand? Not only had we been dumped out of the World Cup; even more shocking and depressing was the revelation that the ferocious, unyielding sporting rivalry that we had assumed, up until this moment, was mutual between England and Scotland...wasn't.
You Bastard Carl, you cruel, complete and utter, utter Bastard. I can't remember who punched the answer machine first, but flushing it down the loo made us feel no better. One way rivalry: as useful as a commons select committee, as rewarding as a torn up betting slip.
Still I guess we got a sitcom out of it...
Nah, still not worth it.
Listen to Very Old Pretenders Thursday, 11:00pm on Radio 4
Gordon Kennedy and Jack Doherty will be talkinga bout the series on MacAulay and Co Thursday, 10:00am, Radio Scotland.