Calanais – Full Circle
BBC ALBA – Starts Monday 18 January at 8.30 – 9.00pm
THE story of the Calanais Stones on the Isle of Lewis, and the ingenuity of those who erected them, began more than 4,000 years ago.
They remain one of the most mysterious and spectacular historic locations in Scotland, with an annual footfall approaching 50,000 tourists visiting from all corners of the globe.
The task of serving the varied needs of the Calanais visitor is a highly unpredictable challenge and now, BBC ALBA goes behind the scenes of this fascinating location from March to October in a four-part series, Calanais – Full Circle, to see how it’s done.
Twenty years ago, an ambitious community group gathered funds to establish the Calanais Visitor Centre, the main ethos being a facility run by the community, for the benefit of the community.
A café, shop and interpretive centre that seldom stands still, today the staff continue to be sourced from the nearby villages, with the tourist demand being so great that it is now open 50 weeks of the year.
The centre is managed by the witty Angus Alec MacKenzie, with the support of a team including two of his longest-serving staff – kitchen manager, Gregor Macleod, and assistant, Kirsteen MacMillan.
Resourcefulness and the ability to remain calm are essential requirements when dealing with situations as varied as the arrival of a dozen coach tours from a passing French cruise-ship or 200 islanders and television crews gathering for a will it/won’t it appear solar-eclipse on a cold spring morning.
The tourist industry built around the Calanais Centre also provides employment for Gaelic speaking tour-guides, such as Maggie Smith, whilst resident summer artist, Ivor Mackay, is under constant pressure to make a living from his paintings at Calanais.
The Calanais experience is such a success story that a new state-of-the-art facility is being planned for the next generation of travellers who choose the stones as Scotland’s top unmissable destination.
Produced by Mast Ard for BBC ALBA, Calanais – Full Circle starts on the channel on Monday 18 January at 8.30pm. It will be repeated on Friday 22 January at 8.00pm and the series will be available on BBC iPlayer.
Notes to editors:
BBC ALBA is available on the following platforms:
- Sky 143 (UK)
- Freeview / You View 8 (Scotland only)
- Virgin Media 161 (UK)
- Freesat 110 (UK)
- BBC iPlayer
BBC ALBA is run by MG ALBA in partnership with the BBC. MG ALBA is the operating name of Seirbheis nam Meadhanan Gàidhlig, the Gaelic Media Service. Find out more about MG ALBA and the partnership at www.mgalba.com or visit www.bbc.co.uk/alba for scheduling and programme information.
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