Media Release: Fascinating Nationwide stories to be rebroadcast in new BBC ALBA series

Alasdair Fraser

Nationwide an Alba: An Taobh An Iar / West

BBC ALBA, Friday 7 March at 9.00 – 10.00pm

FASCINATING stories of years gone by will be rebroadcast in a new BBC ALBA series using footage from the popular series, Nationwide, which was the BBC’s long-running news and current affairs show transmitted on BBC One from 1969 to 1983.

Nationwide was a magazine show with a remit to cover regional stories throughout the whole of the United Kingdom and BBC ALBA is offering viewers the opportunity to see some of the best of Nationwide’s Scottish content over a three-week period with a selection of stories from the West, East and the islands of Scotland.

Programme one of the three-part series, Nationwide an Alba: An Taobh An Iar / West, will take a look at the most compelling stories of that time from the West of Scotland, many of which have only been seen once before, presented by BBC News journalist, Alasdair Fraser.

Highlights include droving cattle 200 miles from Skye to Crieff, an insight into the work of Glasgow’s Air Ambulance Service in 1974 and why Ballachulish was regarded by some as the dirtiest village in Scotland in 1973.

Regional stories include:


  • In 1971 Glasgow Corporation Housing Committee decreed that all air raid shelters would be demolished, spending quarter of a million pounds in doing so at the outrage of many, where they have stood the test of time for over 30 years.
  • This year also saw the collapse of Rolls Royce with the knock on effect on subsidiaries leading to 30,000 job losses in Glasgow. A recruitment of Scottish employees to work for Krupps in Germany took place, which many felt was poaching  given that Rolls Royce and Krupps were enemies during WW2.
  • 1974 reports on the work of Glasgow’s Air Ambulance Service, a service which started by accident in 1933 on Isle of Islay when a patient urgently had to go to a mainland general hospital so only option was by plane. The service handled 800 calls in one year covering anything form expectant mothers to series road accidents.
  • Bingo but not as we know it – in Glasgow in 1971, bingo had a different tradition where the prize from a 5p (old money) card could provide 50 shillings worth of household groceries, a saving of around £2.
  • A Green Goddess (Bedford self-propelled pump) answers a call during the fire fighters strike of 1977 where members of the Royal Highland Fusiliers step in to ensure the safety of the people of Glasgow.
  • A new form of entertainment hits Glasgow in 1971 on a quiet Sunday night when pubs and cinemas are closed – kickboxing which even leads to promoters organising bizarre kickboxing dinner dances.

North Lanarkshire:

  • In 1982 Scotland’s industrial credibility depends on Ravenscraig Steelworks with 10,000 families being affected if it was to close. The report hears from the people of Motherwell who are desperate to save their town from collapse and fighting for their right to defend their jobs.
  • Cumbernauld in 1970 was the new town of modern Scotland however its residents were vassals and forced to pay an ancient form of levy, a feu-duty, the common form of land tenure in Scotland.


  • Portavadie, Argyllshire in 1977 was to be home to a new generation of oil platforms for the north sea however dreams turned into nightmares when the plan for spending £15m was scrapped and left a scene of desolation with the largest hole in western Europe and housing estates uninhabited.
  • 1978 sees the discovery of a treasure trove of Victorian bottles and glass jars in the garden of a local resident in Helensburgh. It is thought that the house is situated on a Victorian rubbish dump that is worth a fortune where the fruits of her soil can raise anything up to £50.
  • Ballachulish was regarded by some as the “dirtiest village in Scotland” in 1973 when the quarries became redundant which lead to the railway station becoming abandoned with a hillside of slate building up, derelict houses and wrecked cars. As the quarry was privately owned, Argyll county council had to apply for a compulsory purchase to help start the clean up process of the area.


  • A special report on Crieff Sporta Football Club in 1973 tells the story of the team who have let in over 434 goals this season over 32 games, have gone through ten goalkeepers  and hold the record for the worst football club.
  • In 1981 the report follows a couple and their friend who are droving cattle 200 miles from the Isle of Skye to Crieff in Tayside. During the arduous task which entailed a cattle ferry crossing as the cattle were not very skilled at crossing waters themselves, the group are visited by the RSPCA inspector to check over the cattle and talk to the drovers. Drovers can be an unlikely mixture of people and when they pass by locals were never quite sure whether to lock up their cattle or their daughters first.


  • 1973 reports on the giant north sea oil production platforms in Drumbuie and South West Ross where locals feel it will mean the end of society and the possible end to crafting whilst others believe it is important to the economy that they be built. A local school matron says she is worried about the moral effect on communities and already has witnessed taxis going from Inverness to Easter Ross with prostitutes.
  • In 1973, Frank, a retired city dweller from London has given up everything to become a professional Loch Ness monster hunter. He has dedicated his life to his passion and has built a platform to perch on for Nessy spotting, having spent over 9,500 hours doing so.

Dumfries & Galloway:

  • 1974 reported on the harbour at Drummore, Wigtownshire which had been extended by the Ministry of Defence to accommodate ships but has caused a build up of hundreds of tons of rotting seaweed to become trapped in it. Known locally as the ‘gitters’ the odour from the seaweed becomes almost unbearable when the tide is out and has affected the tourist trade as well as the health of local residents, and at its worst been known to put cows of their feed and set people rocking back on their heels five miles away.
  • The town of Palnackie on the Solway Firth is home to the annual flounder tramping contest with residents of all ages taking part in the 1975 festival, where one successful contestant  says “big feet makes a big tramper”.

Produced by BBC Gàidhlig, Nationwide an Alba will commence on Friday 7 March from 9.00 until 10.00pm with an hour long programme being transmitted on each consecutive Friday over the three week period.


For further information please contact Lorna Gardner or Gary McQueen at Media House on 0141 220 6040 or email /

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)
  • BT Vision 8 (Scotland only)
  • Smallworld 170 (Ayrshire and North West England)
  • 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 or visit for scheduling and programme information.

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Contact: Gary McQueen
Phone: 01412206040