The Scottish television industry, and BBC Scotland in particular, is at a historic juncture.
Recently the visibility of Scotland on television has increased nationally and globally thanks to successful series such as the comedies Gary: Tank Commander and Still Game, documentaries like the four-part Story of Scottish Art, dramas including Shetland and Stonemouth, the arrival of a Scottish Doctor Who, and the Sony/Left Bank/Starz fantasy time travel series Outlander. Yet in a survey included in the UK Government’s White Paper on the renewal of the BBC Charter (May 2016), less than half of Scots (44%) said that they felt their nation was well represented by BBC output, while the Scottish Government’s own policy paper on charter renewal (February 2016) also stated that “audiences do not feel that the output of the BBC in Scotland fully represents their views and interests”.
The Government White Paper also mentions complaints about so-called ‘lift and shift’ programmes, originated in London and merely moved to Scotland for production, and only a fraction of the BBC’s budget, 9.2%, was actually spent in Scotland. Yet in September 2015 Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop announced the New Production Growth Fund in association with Creative Scotland, and in addition North Lanarkshire Council has approved an application for the expansion of Wardpark Studios in Cumbernauld, home of Outlander, potentially creating Scotland’s first substantial Film Studio. The BBC has also undertaken to increase spending across the regions, appoint a Scotland-based commissioning editor for both drama and comedy, make Scotland a ‘Centre for Excellence’ in factual television production, establish a ‘Writer’s Room’ training programme and create ‘portrayal’ objectives for national identities.
These initiatives are therefore responding to on-going issues about Scottish representation on Scottish, UK national and international television screens, and of Scotland’s ability to produce its own content dealing with Scottish issues. How has this situation arisen? How problematic is the provision of Scottish programming for Scotland, and what then is the future for Scottish TV? How can it draw upon its rich heritage to become part of the essential cultural and financial framework of the post-SNP Scottish national identity?
To consider such questions, The International Journal of Scottish Theatre and Screen is publishing a special issue exploring the past, present and future state of Scottish television. For this the editors are seeking proposals of 300-500 words for articles of up to 6000 words. The deadline for submission of proposals is 30 September 2016. Decisions will be made by 17 October. The deadline for submission of the articles will be 1 May 2017. Revisions to the pieces will be expected by the end of August 2017 in readiness for peer review, with final submissions due in February 2018 for a 2018 publication.
Proposals are welcomed on any aspect of Scottish Television including but not limited to:
- Industry and Policy
- Programming of Scottish Content in Scotland
- Scottish TV Audiences
- Scottish TV Drama
- Scottish TV Comedy
- Children’s TV
- News and Current Affairs in Scotland
- Scottish TV Factual and Documentary
- Genre and Scottish TV
- Representation of Scotland and the Scots in Scottish and Non-Scottish TV
Proposals and a short biography of 50-70 words should be sent via email by
the deadline to firstname.lastname@example.org
Simon Brown is Assistant Professor of Film, TV and Media at Kingston University and
Screen Editor for the International Journal of Scottish Theatre and Screen.