The first impact of this news was a bit of a shock that this superb series had not actually been on UK-wide transmission in the first instance. This now raises questions about the calibre of the programming judgment of the BBC.
The series, with its impeccable and compelling photography, should never have been about Scotland talking to itself but about Scotland talking to the entire UK and well beyond.
If this series had been about a group of islands anywhere, it would have been very well watched. There was nothing parochial about it but the programming decision-makers seem unable to escape from the parish pump mentality.
This series told the story of a magnificent part of the world – to the world. It was made with an unlimited audience in mind. There was no reason to question that it was being offered to a wide audience – until the press release came in, alerting us to the fact Dave Thompson, MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch, has managed to get this series released to fly.
Dave Thompson, welcomes the news that, following a successful run on BBC Scotland – and his own determined intervention – the four part documentary, Hebrides: Islands on the Edge, will be broadcast across the UK from the 11th July, on BBC2 at 9pm.
Mr Thompson wrote to the BBC to make the case for the programme to be shown outwith Scotland – on the grounds of its potential positive impact on tourist numbers.
This series supports transmission anywhere on grounds of merit alone – the camera did the serious ‘talking’, engaging with the character of a very specific place whose cultures were formed by their context of land, sea, air, wildlife, seasons and seascapes.
Dave Thompson says: ‘I am delighted that, following my letter to the BBC Director General, the decision has been made to show this excellent documentary across the United Kingdom.
‘Tourism is a vital industry for the Highlands and Islands, and I am particularly pleased that the programme will be shown in early July, when it can have a positive impact on this summers tourism.’
Nigel Pope, Executive Producer of Islands on the Edge says: ‘The Hebrides series was hugely popular with the audience in Scotland – winning more than a quarter of the viewing audience.
‘I’m delighted that the wider UK audience will now get a chance to see the programmes.
‘Human beings and wild places are deeply entwined in the Islands.
‘I hope the series helps to shine a light on one of the world’s most outstanding wild places and brings some benefit to both the people and animals that live there.’
This immediately begs the question of why ‘one of the world’s outstanding wild places’ was not shown to the world of the UK at least, in the first instance.
Do we know if the series is to marketed by the BBC to overseas television stations? It has to be.
One has also to ask why this intervention was left to a politician What was the ‘national tourism agency’, VisitScotland, doing?