Martin Gray: Stop messing the TV schedules around

BEEN ENJOYING SPOOKS OVER THE last few Monday nights on BBC1? Well, don't tune in this week and wonder where Harry and his band of MI5 spies have gone – they're secreted away at 10pm tonight.

Were you at all peeved when Stephen Fry in America suddenly moved to 10:20pm on Sundays for the last few episodes, having previously had a primetime 9pm slot?

Both moves can be blamed on one thing – a little show called A History of Scotland.

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Certainly, the Neil Oliver documentary has a lot to commend it, but it seems BBC Scotland is determined to push it to the front of the schedule at all costs. Dozens of trailers a day? Check. Scotland-only Radio Times cover? Sure. Pushing a sassenach show around the schedules? Oh so very yes!

No doubt History would have remained on Sunday for the rest of its run but for the network deciding that its own Next Big Thing – a reworking of 1970s sci-fi drama Survivors – should get the coveted weekend slot. Heaven knows why BBC Scotland couldn't just wait a few weeks until there was a natural opening and give History its very own, no need for resentment, position in the schedules. A pox on the people who are already enjoying Stephen Fry and Spooks, there's haggis and heather to worship.

And the attitude isn't a recent phenomenon. For years now Strictly Come Dancing fans have been fuming at the disappearance of the Thursday It Takes Two BBC2 spin-off in favour of minority-interest Gaelic shows that could easily be broadcast in less-viewed slots. Unlike the superb US thriller Medium, shoved back nearly an hour from its national screening on Wednesdays to make way for Sportscene, Thursday's It Takes Two isn't broadcast at all. If you've no access to a BBC iPlayer or a set-top box carrying all the BBC regions, you're scunnered.

This sort of scheduling, which makes Radio Times less a programme guide than a Where's Wally? book, is due to the BBC's commitment to the nations and regions. As a licence payer, the only commitment I want is the knowledge I can find my favourite shows where I left them. Who's to say A History of Scotland wouldn't be one of them had it not begun with a big raspberry blown at something I'm already enjoying.

And now STV is getting in on the act. Hurrah for transmitting original Scottish thriller Missing a few weeks ago. But did they have to stick it on a Sunday when the rest of the nation was getting the hugely popular drama Sharpe's Peril? Couldn't they have pulled one of the zillion peaktime repeats of Midsomer Murders? STV say they have no plans to show Sharpe. None.

And if you're not happy with that, dear viewer, you can stuff it. Or complain to STV – it's certainly kinder than what Sean Bean's fighting man would do.

The basic message from Scotland's TV overlords seems to be, unless you're a viewer obsessed with Scottishness, you're not our kind of viewer. Commitment to the nations and regions? Or a porage of parochialism. You decide.

Me, I'm buying a new digital box.