Still Game director creates Gaelic sketch show as BBC Alba plans expansion

Michael Hines, left, has created a new Gaelic sketch called Func for BBC Alba. The station is marking its 10th anniversary this autumn
Michael Hines, left, has created a new Gaelic sketch called Func for BBC Alba. The station is marking its 10th anniversary this autumn
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The director of one of Scotland’s most successful TV sitcoms has created a new Gaelic language sketch show as part of a “bold new content vision” unveiled by BBC Alba.

Michael Hines, who helped turn Still Game into a multi-award-winning ratings smash, has created Func - a fast-paced show described as blending razor-sharp satire and surreal silliness.

The comedy is a cornerstone of BBC Alba’s autumn schedule, which will see the digital channel enter its second decade with an expanded programme of content.

The Gaelic station will also produce a seven-day news service for the first time, with current affairs programme An Là now being broadcast at weekends - an investment the BBC said had created six new jobs in the Inverness area.

Gaelic language children’s programming will be quadrupled under the expansion, with further details expected at an event next week.

But it is the addition of Func to the station’s listings that bosses are hoping will tempt more viewers to the channel.

It will showcase a variety of rising screen and writing stars, many of whom were mentored through a partnership with BBC Writer’s Room Scotland.

Producer Michael Hines said: “There aren’t many channels that would show so much trust in programme-makers - and so much commitment to up-and-coming talent.

“We have a wonderful young cast and some brilliant writing, and I’m extremely proud of all the hard work everyone has put in across the four episodes.

“There has been a terrific creative collaboration to find fresh and exciting new Gaelic writers, and I know - finger’s crossed – that everyone will find it as funny as we have.”

It was confirmed earlier this week that BBC Alba will screen all of Scotland’s 2019 Women’s World Cup matches live after Shelley Kerr’s side reached their first-ever finals.

Margaret Mary Murray, head of Gaelic Services at the BBC, said: “We are delighted to be marking BBC Alba’s 10th birthday with a fabulously rich package of programmes and digital content.

“Autumn 2018 will bring with it some fantastic television: laugh-out-loud comedy, a new-look children’s zone, moving and inspiring documentaries, and the latest dramatic twists and turns in Bannan.

“In addition, music continues to be at the heart of our schedule and new international co-productions such as Iùl a’ Chiùil join acclaimed series including Port. BBC Alba will bring the best television to audiences in Scotland and beyond.”

Launched in September 2008, BBC Alba is broadcast for up to seven hours a day. It is funded by both BBC Scotland and by MG Alba, which itself is financed by the Scottish Government and UK Government.

Iseabail Mactaggart, MG Alba director of strategy and partnership said: “As BBC Alba enters its second decade, we are excited to be attracting new audiences and creating an amazing showcase for Scottish women’s football.”