Neil Oliver's new BBC series Blood of the Clans brings Scotland's history to light with his trademark flair – Murdo Fraser MSP

The drama documentary Blood of the Clans delves into a complex period in Scotland’s history, writes Murdo Fraser MSP

A statue of James Graham, First Marquis of Montrose, in Montrose (Picture: Robert Perry)
A statue of James Graham, First Marquis of Montrose, in Montrose (Picture: Robert Perry)

As a student of 17th-century Scottish history, I tuned in with great interest last Wednesday for the first part of Neil Oliver’s new BBC TV series “Blood of the Clans”, which focussed on the 1st Marquis of Montrose’s “Year of Victories” in 1644-45 over the Covenanters.

This is a complex period in our nation’s history, where personal and family rivalries intertwined with the political and religious disputes of the day. Disappointingly, the religious element in the revolution against the rule of King Charles I was hardly touched upon, with no reference at all to the significance of the National Covenant of 1638.

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Rather, the Scottish civil war of the period was depicted as essentially a clan battle between the Macdonalds and Campbells (although given the title of the series perhaps that should not be surprising).

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Moreover, it is hard to imagine the 1st Marquis of Montrose, and the 8th Earl and Marquis of Argyll, leading statesmen of the time, being referred to at the time as “Jamie” and “Archie” as they were presented throughout the programme.

All that said, this was a quality, well-produced introduction to an all-too-often forgotten period in Scottish history, presented with Oliver’s trademark flair.

For BBC Scotland to put this out at prime time on a mid-week evening is a real credit to them, and it will have introduced a whole new group of people to aspects of our past about which they will previously have known little.

The next part in the series, on Rob Roy MacGregor, goes out tomorrow night, and I will certainly be watching.

Murdo Fraser is a Scottish Conservative MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife

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