Columnist Casts Doubt on Value of Increased Scottish Content on TV and Radio

An increase in Scottish content on television and radio is not necessarily something to shout about, a leading newspaper columnist has written.

Writing in yesterday’s Sunday Herald opinion section, Joanna Blythman laments: “I always thought that one of the notional virtues of the Scots was that, unlike Colonel Blimps in the Shires, we are true internationalists, people who take a lively interest in things, even if they don’t touch on our narrow, familiar lives. I’m interested in London in the same way as I’m interested in New York or Paris. 

“If you live in Scotland, is it obligatory to close your ears when anyone talks about London or mentions the filthy word (whisper it) England? Must we submit to being force-fed a phoney diet of couthy broadcasting because it relates exclusively to Scots and Scotland? I’d rather emigrate.”

She adds: “To be honest, the knee-jerk campaign for more Scotland-centric programming fills me with foreboding.

“I’m sick to the back teeth of sitting down to watch a high-quality current affairs programme or top-drawer drama series which just happens to be made in London, only to find that it has been unceremoniously bumped for something considered to be more relevant to viewers north of the Border, such as Postcode Challenge, whose hosts have included sunny Carol Smillie. The show is a low-grade product.

“For a while, both BBC Scotland and STV were obsessed with rummaging through their archive footage and splicing supposedly choice bits with the reminiscences of elderly Scots. My, but that was down-beat and depressing.”

Her comments follow news – reported last week on – of a significant increase in Scottish output on the BBC, UK-wide. 

She continues: “It’s not just the politics, light entertainment and documentaries that are dire. The prospect of Scottish news being given more air time doesn’t bear thinking about.

“We’d be subjected to more dreary, formulaic tales, prominently featuring strung-out court reports of deprived, inadequate people doing horrible things. Or more cautionary tales of teen road fatalities.

“Such reportage barely qualifies as journalism. It’s lazy but its redeeming feature is that it is cheap to make and can be badged as relevant to Scots. Spare us.”