THE Mart is a new, six-part BBC Scotland observational documentary about an Aberdeenshire market, which is one of the biggest of its kind in Europe, selling livestock as well as farming equipment, cars, etc.
Episode one is being broadcast this evening on BBC One Scotland, from 1930. It is available afterwards across the UK on BBC iPlayer.
Here, producer, Holly Booth, of BBC Aberdeen, answers the questions…
Who commissioned the programme?
Ewan Angus, commissioning editor (TV), for BBC Scotland.
Explain the thinking behind the programme’s ‘look and feel’.
The Mart is a lively observational documentary series about Thainstone Mart – the people who work there, the people who buy there, the people who sell there… and the animals!
Many people have no idea what a mart is, let alone how important it is to the farming community, and we felt it was important to show a side of rural life rarely seen in the media.
Aberdeen and Northern Mart is owned by 5,000 farmers and run as a co-op; the Mart owns farms, runs weddings, helps young farmers set up in business, and, when a farmer wants to retire, they even run the ‘roup’, selling the machinery and contents from the farm gate.
They sell almost everything a countryman could ever want: from cows-in-calf to tractors, from rare breed sows to snow ploughs and it was this diversity of business that gives the series its energy and humour.
What kit and software?
We had two crews using Sony 305 cameras which we chose for their versatility in a fast-moving environment.
On sale days, we rigged the auction rings with GoPros to make sure we didn’t miss any of the action.
We also used a pole cam and drone to capture some fantastic high shots and aerials which have given the series a polished feel.
What were the main production challenges?
As an observational series, it is important that every scene feels as though the viewers are ‘in the moment’, seeing events as they happen.
This meant we had to be ready to capture the action in the livestock lines where the animals could behave unpredictably.
Luckily, the mart staff have a wealth of experience dealing with cattle, sheep and even horses when they are kicking off and they managed to keep us all safe even when we were in the thick of it.
What did you most learn and enjoy from the experience?
We spent four months behind the scenes at the mart, filming everything from the top-end show calves at the ‘Spectacular’ to an escaped golden pheasant at the Rare Breeds Sale and just about everything in between.
But one of my personal favourites was the Annual Shetland Pony Sale which will be shown in the final episode.
The mart staff were amazing to work with and the access they gave us meant we really managed to capture the drama of life there.