Brian Ferguson: Red Road reaction normal

Five of the six tower blocks are to be demolished. Picture: Getty
Five of the six tower blocks are to be demolished. Picture: Getty
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Red Road reactions only to be expected, though that could change, writes Brian Ferguson

There is something ironic about the plans to demolish Glasgow’s Red Road flats during the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games, emerging just weeks after the return of Siobhan Sharpe to the nation’s TV screens.

The genius of the ghastly PR guru, who first appeared in London Olympics spoof Twenty Twelve and has now returned with a vengeance on BBC satire W1A, is how terrifyingly true-to-life she seems.

I can’t have been the only one thinking of Sharpe when the full extent of the fall-out over the Red Road plans became clear. Had it been announced a couple of days earlier, Glasgow 2014 would have been credited as an imaginative April Fool’s Day prank.

I’m not sure we’ll actually ever know at how many meetings the plans were discussed, who was involved in them and how much dissent there was from any of those present. But, for the time being at least, Glasgow is stuck with them and faces a monumental PR challenge in winning around the many doubters and critics to have spoken out.

Make no mistake: much of the goodwill and momentum which had been gradually building behind Glasgow’s hosting of the Commonwealth Games has been lost by the events of the last few days.

Although the Games organisers have certainly succeeded in generating massive publicity with their plans – which were deemed worthy of an entire press conference on Thursday – the tone of the majority of the coverage will surely have left them with their heads in their hands. Or will it?

The “celebratory moment” unveiled at the People’s Palace will just be one element of the opening ceremony at Celtic Park. With just a few months to go, I would assume they know the full running order and are confident the overall impact will triumph.

My own initial reaction to the announcement was mixed. As far as statements of intent go, it was undeniably impressive. I cannot imagine anything worse than a hackneyed, unimaginative, play-it-safe opening ceremony. But there is no denying that the thought of 900 people having to leave their homes for the night to allow the spectacle to unfold and the sheer scale of destruction involved has left a nasty taste.

The cultural programme for the Commonwealth Games – with which many of Scotland’s leading artists are involved – has been lauded for its diverse, imaginative, ambitious and all-embracing nature.

Perhaps some of those cultural creatives can come up with a solution to the Red Road rammy that ensures these landmarks still play a major part in the opening ceremony – but without the need for wholesale destruction.