Made Here: Trusadh – Am Pàipear/The News of the Southern Isles, BBC ALBA

BEGINS a media release – here: “It was a newspaper that was started with the aim of giving a voice to the community.

“Now, four decades on, BBC ALBA examines the story of Am Pàipear, which has moved from humble beginnings to become an acclaimed, award-winning title in an ever-changing media landscape.

“In this latest edition of Trusadh, as well as telling the story of how it all began in South Uist in 1976, we meet those who have contributed and played a part in the paper’s life up to the present day.”

Trusadh – Am Pàipear/The News of the Southern Isles, is being broadcast on BBC ALBA Monday, August 8 from 2100. It has been made for BBC ALBA by MacTV.

Here, Niall Campbell, the programme’s director, answers the questions…

Who commissioned the series?

Trusadh is BBC ALBA’s flagship documentary series commissioned by MG ALBA with Margaret Mary Murray working with the MacTV team as executive producer.

Explain the thinking behind the production’s ‘look and feel’

In documenting 40 years of social change throughout the Uists, including the islands of Berneray, North Uist, Benbecula – where I am from – South Uist and Eriskay, we sought to feature relevant archive from across these decades.

We researched the stories using the complete archive of Am Piper editions, which was very interesting. A lot of heart and soul went into the production of this local paper, producing an amazing archive for the islands.

We recorded contributions from many of those involved in the paper’s production across the years.

Who are the key personnel? How were they recruited?

MacTV work with a core full time staff, and a variety of freelancers across the range of projects produced for the Trusadh brand.

The team on this Trusadh project included Gavin MacLeod Humphreys, who was a good choice for the offline and online edit as he is skilled at working with archive material and cutting to tight deadlines.

Meanwhile, key interviewees include Fr Colin McInnes, who founded Am Pàipear, members of the initial team of volunteers – such as the paper’s illustrator Andrew McMorrine, columnist Michael Russell (MSP), as well as several of the paper’s previous editors including current editor, Iain Stephen Morrison.

All contributors were delighted to take part to both reminisce and to highlight the importance of this community newspaper as it celebrates its landmark 40th anniversary.

What kit and software?

The documentary was shot on Canon XF305 and was edited on Avid media composer.

What have been the main production challenges?

Although the production had access to every back issue of the Am Pàipear as well as a wealth of archive, the biggest challenge was whittling down all the stories so that we had a diverse and relevant combination of items and articles which would reflect the changes, character and humour of the paper and the islands it represents.

Most of the interviewees had moved on from island life and the production schedule involved travelling between Glasgow, Inverness, Lochgoilhead, Skye, Uist and as far south as Durham in order to conduct interviews.

Reducing the original 1.5hr rough-cut to 59mins was also challenging – we all dislike putting great material on the cutting room floor.

What did you most learn and enjoy from the experience?

It was a pleasure to meet and interview all of the contributors and hear their first-hand accounts of their time at Am Pàipear.

I learned that although historic accounts of events can be both interesting and entertaining, they may not always be suitable for inclusion in a modern-day documentary, particularly when they were written at a time when political correctness was perhaps not what it is today.