Landmark new BBC Scotland series to chart 'definitive history of modern Scotland'

Kirsty Wark will be presenting the new four-part series for BBC Scotland.
Kirsty Wark will be presenting the new four-part series for BBC Scotland.
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A major new documentary series charting the “definitive history of modern Scotland” is to be made for BBC Scotland this year.

Broadcaster Kirsty Wark is to present the four-part series, which will explore how the nation has evolved and transformed over the last 50 years by recalling the big events which have had “lasting effects” on the country.

Billed as a “landmark” series, Becoming Scotland’s producers say it will feature interviews with Scotland’s “greatest thinkers, politicians, cultural leaders, artists and actors.”

Two Rivers Media, the Glasgow production company led by Wark’s husband, Alan Clements, has been commissioned to make four hour-long programmes for BBC Scotland’s channel, which launched nearly a year ago.

Each episode will look at a different chapter in the nation’s history (1970 to 1982; 1983 to 1996; 1997 to 2007; and 2008 to 2020), including events that “once appeared of little significance, now revealed as moments that changed the nation.”

The series will explore the impact of the North Sea oil boom in the 1970s, the teachers’ strikes and the closure of the Ravenscraig steelworks in the 1980s, Glasgow’s recovering from the decline of its shipyards to be crowned European Capital of Culture by 1990, the Dunblane Primary massacre in 1996, and the 2014 independence referendum.

Images and celebrities used to sell Scotland to the world, including the famous “Caledonia” promotional video produced by VisitScotland, will be recalled in the show, which goes into production next month.

The impact of the novel Trainspotting and its film adaptation in the 1990s, and the global success of video games sensation Grand Theft Auto, which was created in Dundee, will also be featured.

Wark said: “I’m so proud to be presenting this new, definitive, series. The political cultural and social change in Scotland has been breathtaking, and yet Scotland’s DNA remains. But we express ourselves differently now. I think we’re a more open society.
“I’ve witnessed first-hand and reported on the biggest events of the last 50 years - from the musical explosion, to our enduring sporting ecstasies and agonies, to nation-defining events, like the closure of Ravenscraig, the devastation of the Dunblane tragedy, and the long tail of the independence referendum.

“Scotland has changed immeasurably since 1970 however Becoming Scotland is not just about big history. We’ll bring you the perspective of the women and men who were eyewitnesses to the key events – famous and far from famous, and whose actions have shaped modern Scotland. That’s what will make this series so different.”

David Harron, commissioning executive for BBC Scotland, said: “The BBC Scotland channel has established a reputation for commissioning high-quality factual programmes that tell compelling stories of how contemporary Scotland has been shaped.

"Becoming Scotland will bring the audience fresh insights into key events that have had lasting effects on the development of the country over the last half century.”

Mick McAvoy, head of factual at Two Rivers, said: “The last 50 years have transformed Scotland.

"This landmark documentary series will begin in the Seventies and we will hear from Scotland’s best and brightest to reveal how the nation has grown, suffered and changed to become the place it is today.

"The Two Rivers’ team have an outstanding track record in both landmark documentaries and human interest storytelling, so we are perfectly placed to deliver this ambitious series which we expect to have both UK and global appeal.”