Made Here: EÒRPA

EÒRPA is a Gaelic language current affairs series, focussing on stories from across Europe. It has a team of three reporters.

The programme is broadcast each Wednesday on BBC ALBA, with repeats on BBC Two Scotland and BBC Parliament.

And tonight it looks back on 20 years of programming with an extended, hour-long EÒRPA, being broadcast at 2100 on BBC ALBA.

BBC Gàidhlig producer, Rebecca MacLennan, answers the questions…

Who commissioned this latest series?

EÒRPA was launched in 1993 collaboration with the CTG (The Gaelic Television Committee) and is produced by the BBC.

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

The series has, over the years, had many guises, starting with a studio-based production, and is now being fully location-based.

Having started on the series as a production assistant back in 1993, it was a little daunting, looking back over the years for this 20th anniversary programme.

I began as producer last year, and I have tried to give the series a bit of a facelift – especially with such an important birthday looming. One of the main elements was to commission new graphics and music idents, which have been well received.

For the 20th anniversary show, in particular, we are looking at some of the main stories and events we have covered.

Who are the key personnel? How were they recruited?

This 20th anniversary programme is the final episode in the current series, with our 21st run beginning in October.

We currently have a team of three reporters – Darren Laing, Anne Lundon and our third reporter is seconded on cyclical basis from BBC ALBA’s news team. We also have a team of three directors – Colin MacLeod, Nina Matheson and Maureen MacLeod, plus two hard-working researchers, Catriona MacNeil and Murdo MacSween. All are BBC staff.

On filming trips, the teams are usually accompanied by a camera person – this is normally a BBC staff member but we do also occasionally use freelance crew.

Fixers and translators are a key part of our team on location, and they work with us in order to find the best and most appropriate contributors and locations for us to film in whichever country we visit. They live and work locally and usually come from a journalistic background.

What kit and software?

We now shoot our reports on XDCAM discs, but we have been experimenting with the latest technology using file-based cameras and broadcast quality DSLRs.

What have been the main production challenges?

In the current economic climate, our main issues during this season have been sourcing a range of stories that are not all associated with the financial crisis facing most European countries.

We also face many logistical challenges when organising working trips and travel to and from various parts of Europe, as there are still areas which are considered ‘hostile environments’.

What did you most learn and enjoy from the experience?

EÒRPA is a fascinating series that really broadens your mind. The team have worked extremely hard to find stories that are rarely touched upon by the mainstream media – for example, the plight of those being evicted in Kosovo to make way for a new motorway and the legacy that Soviet psychological torture has left on its victims within Latvia.

It’s essential to work efficiently as we are tasked with delivering a 29-minute programme each week. It certainly ‘keeps you on your toes’ when it comes to ensuring this happens as, occasionally, reports change at the last minute, so we have to be prepared to react and change right up to the last minute.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working with a talented team who are so passionate about what they do and always want to deliver the highest-quality programmes.