Gaelic-speaking youngsters are set to become TV stars throughout Europe after a new children’s drama for BBC Alba was picked up for broadcast.
The story of a bid by youngsters to recruit an actress to save their rundown local theatre, it is one of the highlights of BBC Alba’s festive line-up.
But before it has even been broadcast, the programme – Mystique no 375 – has been shown in Bulgaria, Serbia, Germany, Czech Republic and Croatia.
It is hoped the film, produced and funded through a European Broadcasting Union initiative to encourage more children’s drama, will help pave the way for other BBC Alba programmes to be shown overseas.
Filmed in Glasgow and Largs, Mystique no 375 features two actors from BBC Alba’s island-set drama Bannan – Cailean Collier and Màiri Maclennan – along with Caramarie MacCalman, from Skye, who plays the lead schoolgirl character. Three pupils from Glasgow’s Gaelic school will also be making their TV debuts in the programme after a nationwide hunt for new child stars by the programme’s producers.
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The story was penned by the Lewis-born voice-over artist, presenter, producer and writer Patsi Mackenzie, whose production company Sorbier has also made the drama for BBC Alba, which will show Mystique no 375 on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
The show was directed by Alan de Pellette, whose previous credits include the original stage version of Still Game and the hit BBC Scotland comedy Chewin’ the Fat.
Channel editor Margaret Cameron said: “The European Broadcasting Union, which is probably best known for running the Eurovision Song Contest, has a children’s drama scheme, which caught our eye as a way to develop talent behind and in front of the camera, as well as a way to get new children’s drama on screen, which is not very easy these days.
“We’re pretty pleased that Gaelic will be travelling so far under this scheme and that these young people will have their work seen in so many different countries. It really works for us on a number of fronts. If you enter the scheme you are obviously able to screen the film that is made in your own country but you also have access to as many other films from other countries as you want.”
In the film, ten-year-old Kriselle lives with her father, Mackie, who manages a rundown seaside theatre. After school and during the holidays, she and her cheeky best friend, Roland, help him to run the place.
Kriselle, who is wise beyond her years, has a hankering for being on stage herself – but something is holding her back: the theatre is fast losing money, and Mackie worries that it may have to close down.