INTIMATE new portraits of football legend Jim Baxter and the celebrated painter John Lowrie Morrison are to be screened by BBC Alba as part of its new season, the Gaelic broadcaster has revealed.
The impact of a lavish lifestyle on Baxter’s health and how he struggled to handle that he had been adopted as a baby will be explored in the programme, which the late Rangers and Scotland star’s partner, Norma Morton, has helped make.
The documentary on the Glasgow artist better known as Jolomo, who sells around £2 million worth of paintings per year, will explore how his religious faith has influenced his work, which has been bought by the likes of Sting and Madonna.
The 150-year history of railway travel in the Highlands, a 30th anniversary celebration of the Gaelic children’s presenter Donnie “Dotaman” MacLeod and the story of how a charity based in Lewis is helping to build a new school from scratch in Africa will all feature in the line-up.
The first full series of the drama Bannan, being made on Skye by The Inbetweeners producer Christopher Young, will be shown from next week.
The music line-up features a profile of the Irish singer-songwriter Andrew Hozier-Byrne, highlights from last month’s Piping Live festival in Glasgow and next month’s Royal National Mod in Oban, and a live broadcast of the Scottish Traditional Music Awards from Dundee.
Margaret Mary Murray, head of service for BBC Alba, said the broadcaster was producing 600 hours of programmes per year, and commissioning content from 22 independent production companies, as well as the BBC and STV.
She added: “Over the past seven years, BBC Alba has established itself as a favourite with audiences, regularly attracting 700,000 viewers each week, and over the past year our programmes have had over seven million views via the BBC iPlayer.
“We hope to continue to build on this success by delivering high-quality programmes which audiences in Scotland and further afield love.”
The Jim Baxter documentary, which will be aired on 24 September, has been made by PurpleTV, the company behind an award-winning portrait of legendary Celtic and Scotland manager Jock Stein, which was honoured by the Royal Television Society earlier this year.
Former teammates, friends and relatives will be reliving their memories of the supremely talented but troubled midfielder, who had a long-running drink problem and battled liver disease before succumbing to cancer at the age of 61 in 2001.
Producer and director Margot McCuaig said: “Every so often in life in Scotland someone comes along who makes a real impact, affects the whole cultural consciousness and emotionally resonates with people, and their own aspirations. They looked at Jim Baxter and saw someone who realised those ambitions.
“He had a talent, but it took a bit of time for that to be teased out of him and for him to understand that he could make a career out of it. We wanted to try to get behind some of the misconceptions about who Jim Baxter was. It is quite an emotional journey that we share with Norma and his family.”
Ms Morton said: “Jim was just so many different people. I thought at first he was quite trivial and there was no depth to him. Then as I got to know him I could see there was a lot more to him. He was funny, but he could be very serious and complex.”
Jolomo, whose documentary will be broadcast on 29 October:, said: “I agreed to do it because it was BBC Alba and it was going to be a real profile of me. I do lots of stuff other than paint. I’m a lay preacher in the Church of Scotland, which is a side of me that probably hardly anyone will know, although I do it almost every Sunday.”