The Rig and Mayflies: Hibernating Scottish viewers spoilt for choice as Martin Compston leads new home-grown entertainment

After a full-on festive period packed full of shows and events, it was a bit of a relief to find an empty diary for the first full weekend of the year.

I was definitely in the mood for hibernating and seeking out an alternative to the festive film favourites that dominate the schedules in December. It may have happened more by accident than design, but I quickly realised that I was spoilt for a choice of home-grown entertainment, which has created an unprecedented buzz of excitement about new Scottish film and TV as 2023 starts to unfold.

Fans of Martin Compston have a double dose of new drama to lap up thanks to the arrival on screen within days of each other of Andrea Gibb’s BBC adaptation of the Andrew O’Hagan novel Mayflies, a heart-breaking tale of a life-long friendship thrown into turmoil, which he stars alongside with Tony Curran, and David Macpherson’s sci-fi thriller The Rig.

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The latter is the first series to be made at the new FirstStage Studios complex in Leith, where all the scenes on a North Sea oil rig were shot. Schitt’s Creek star Emily Hampshire and Game of Thrones actor Iain Glen join Compston and a host of other Scottish stars, including Mark Bonnar, in the cast.

It has been a while since any Scottish film has had the kind of acclaim lavished on Aftersun, which has been wowing critics and audiences since premiering in Cannes and Edinburgh last year.

Charlotte Wells' emotionally powerful debut feature, which sees Normal People star Paul Mescal and newcomer Frankie Corio play a father who bonds with their daughter on holiday, has been launched on the streaming platform Mubi just days after picking up eight nominations in the BAFTA longlists.

Another hit from last year winning new audiences since its BBC premiere over the festive season is Jono McLeod's thought-provoking documentary on the Brandon Lee affair, the bizarre tale of the Bearsden Academy pupil who went back to the school in his 30s with a false identity.

There are more laughs to be had in the newspaper documentary series Hold The Front Page, particularly seeing comics Nish Kumar and Josh Widdicombe grapple with working for The Scotsman during the Fringe – a task a lot tougher than they thought it would be.

Tony Curran and Martin Compston star as Tully and Jimmy in Mayflies. Picture: Jamie Simpson
Frankie Corio and Paul Mescal are the stars of Aftersun.
Alan Cumming plays schoolboy imposter "Brandon Lee" in Jono McLeod's doumentary My Old School.
Iain Glen plays offshore installation manager Magnus in The Rig, while Emily Hampshire stars as Rose, an oil industry executive and petrochemical geologist.
Martin Compston stars as communications operator Fulmer in The Rig.

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