Runrig to team up with BBC Alba for new programme telling tale of North Uist hero behind iconic song

Runrig are set to reunite with the man who inspired one of the band’s most iconic songs in a new BBC ALBA programme.

The short documentary - named The Cutter: Seonaidh Beag Iain after Runrig's 1987 song - tells the story of the man behind the tune, Johnny (Seonaidh) Iain Morrison, the North Uist lorry driver who emigrated to Canada.Johnny was immortalised by Runrig on their breakthrough album The Cutter and The Clan as the Gaelic Celtic rock band paid homage to their local hero.Appearing for the first time on camera, Johnny, now 87, caught up with founding members Calum and Rory MacDonald over Zoom from his home in Scarborough, Ontario, where he has lived for over 50 years since leaving island life in Lochmaddy.

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The life and times of Runrig – in 90 minutes

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In his younger days, Johnny was idolised by Calum, Rory and the other children of North Uist as he delivered goods the length and breadth of the islands.Johnny was also a peat cutter and every year the kids would go with him back and forth to the moor on the island.As Rory recalls: “When I was a lad in primary school in Lochmaddy, my pals and I used to play a game.“We used to take the lid off a jam jar…and we’d put a safety pin through the lid.“Then we would take an old licence plate of our father’s and put it in the lid and attach the lid to our jumper.“And then we were lorries. We’d go around the playground playing at lorries. And that was when the arguments started.“Everybody wanted to be wee Johnny, son of Iain.”

Runrig are reunited with the man who inspired one of the band’s most iconic songs in a new BBC ALBA programme.

The film tells how and why Johnny left home for Ontario, how he felt about the song at the time - and how it makes him feel now.Johnny said: “When I listen to the song, I think about myself. It reminds me of what I used to do.“It was for my mother that I did it. That means a lot to me.”The Cutter - Seonaidh Beag Iain, airs on BBC ALBA on Saturday 16 April at 9pm and will be followed by the band’s farewell concert Runrig: The Last Dance.The Cutter will also be available to watch on the BBC iPlayer for 30 days afterwards.

Johnny (Seonaidh) Iain Morrison, the North Uist lorry driver who emigrated to Canada.