BBC Alba - first impressions

I have watched the opening night of the new Gaelic TV channel BBC Alba. On the whole I would say that it was a successful launch and an enjoyable evening of watching the telly.

The evening started with A Chuirm, what the Irish would probably call a ceilidh and we Welsh would call a noson lawen. Personally I am not fond of this sort of programme. I really enjoy attending a ceilidh or a noson lawen, its just that I don't feel that the fun one has in being present can be translated into a tv experience. But as an example of such programmes this one was as good, if not better, than others of its type. Even on tv the haunting sound of unaccompanied Scottish island Gaelic singing can still send a shiver down the spine.

The second programme, Eilbheas, was the best of the night. A drama about a young Punk Rocker in 1977 who was haunted by the Ghost of Elvis Presley! Poigniantly heart tugging in parts, hilariously funny in others, a good story and one of the best tv dramas that I have seen for some time.

The third programme was a docudrama about a mass murderer called Peter Manuel. This evil bastard was, probably, the most notorious of all Scottish murderers - despite that I had never heard of him before. I am uncertain about programs like this. Should we make such people "famous" by dramatising their exploits? More importantly should we turn their evil deeds into "entertainment"? Despite my miss-givings the programme was extremely interesting and very watchable.

Moral doubts apart, I do have one "editorial" complaint about this programme. I don't speak a word of Gaelic, but I was able to follow the story by virtue of on screen subtitles. But I am very hard of hearing and I have particular difficulty understanding people speaking with unfamiliar accents. Unfortunately the subtitling was switched off when some contributors with strong Scottish accents were speaking English. So I found myself in the odd position, of being a non Gaelic speaker being able to follow the Gaelic content with much more ease than I was able to follow the English content! In future BBC Alba, please keep the subtitles going throughout the programme.

The evening ended with the second half of A Chuirm.

There is no doubt at all that I will watch BBC Alba again, I will keep a special look out for new dramas. So Hearty Congratulations to all at BBC Alba, and best wishes for the future.


  1. Scots would say 'ceilidh', Irish is 'ceili'. Unfortunately, as i don't subscribe to Rupert Murdoch's Sky, i can't see my Gaelic tv service.

    Others like myself are urging the BBC to put it on Freeview and there's a petition going just now.


  2. http://epetitions.scottish.parliament.uk/view_petition.asp?PetitionID=289

    Seo agaibh an ceangail/ here's the link.

  3. Agree though, ceilidh programs are usually boring. How about some Gaelic punk rock?!

  4. It is not necessary to subscribe to Rupert Murdoch's Sky to receive BBC Alba !