Sir Billy Connolly to get his own series on BBC Scotland channel as part of new season line-up

A major documentary series on Sir Billy Connolly and a new family sitcom being developed by Burnistoun’s creators will part of the new season line-up unveiled for the second year of BBC Scotland’s channel.

Billy and Us will be premiered on the new BBC Scotland channel within the next few months.
Billy and Us will be premiered on the new BBC Scotland channel within the next few months.

Channel chiefs say Billy and Us, which Connolly made last year, will offer both a retrospective of the Glasgow-born comic’s career and a “social history of Scotland”. The four-part series for Sir Billy will be the latest in a string of TV shows he has been given since deciding to retire from live performance just over a year ago.

A full series of The Scotts, a “mockumentary-style comedy” following the exploits of “a typical Scottish family,” has been ordered by the new channel after a pilot in January.

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Burnistoun writers and performers Robert Florence and Iain Connell played two brothers who have a love-hate relationship, with Spooks and Filth star Shauna Macdonald, Scot Squad’s Louise McCarthy, and Rab C Nesbitt favourite Barbara Rafferty among the other co-stars of The Scotts.

The channel will also premiere a four-part series billed as “the definitive history of modern Scotland,” fronted by Kirsty Wark and featuring politicians and cultural figures reflecting on the last 50 years.

The new shows are expected to be among the highlights of the second year of the channel, which was launched exactly a year ago and has already notched up a string of hits amid criticism of its ratings, particularly for flagship news programme The Nine.

Channel chiefs have revealed they are also in talks with writer Neil Forsyth about a second series of Guilt, his hit black comedy-thriller about two brothers whose lives are thrown into turmoil after a late-night car accident.

A number of the biggest documentary hits, including Inside Central Station, Real Kashmir, Getting Hitched Asian Style and Murder Case have been commissioned for new runs, along with late-night football chat show A View From The Terrace.

Two major new documentaries, Anthony Baxter’s Flint, about one of American’s biggest pollution disasters, and war reporter David Pratt’s Pictures From Afghanistan will premiere this weekend at the Glasgow Film Festival, before they are screened on the channel later this year.

Steve Carson, head of multi-platorm commissioning at BBC Scotland, who has been at the helm of the £32m channel, insisted the channel was performing well, highlighting its weekly 825,0000 audience and how it has more than doubled BBC Scotland’s iPlayer audience in a year to 69 million.

Mr Carson said: “All three of the comedies we piloted last month were all very different and very well received. We felt The Scotts was very innovative in its approach and you could already see the strong family dynamic at the heart of it.

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“The new series with Billy Connolly will see him talk through his life, his career and the work he has created, but it will also function as a social history of the last 50-odd years.

The Scotts is the first major new sitcom to be commissioned for the BBC Scotland channel.

“Part of our remit is to make serious factional programmes that can cover Scotland’s recent history, such as Yes/No: Inside The IndyRef, which was a BAFTA Scotland winner last year, and our Children of the Devolution series.

“Becoming Scotland will very much look back at the last 50 years and how different a place was then compared to how it is now through the eyes of the people who lived through that period.

“Kirsty Wark is a very well-known and respected journalist, but the last 50 years are also the story of her life as well. I think it’s very important for our presenters to have a personal stake in the story, in the way Darren McGarvey did with the series he made around Scotland for us.”