As the people I make the programmes with will testify, I have a somewhat ambivalent relationship with TV. It’s the F factor, as in F for faff, that holds me back from doing more, and it surprises me that an industry that has become so advanced, and such a big part of our lives, still requires a van load of equipment to make a film.
That being said, I am happy with the two telly films I have out this coming week. They are very different, Monday night being a Panorama on Britain’s relationship with alcohol, Tuesday night a Sky Arts ‘First Love’ film on my relationship with bagpipes.
The timing is a little unfortunate, I guess, in that it might look like overkill to have two documentaries on telly on successive nights, but the scheduling was out of my hands.
In some ways, the timing of the alcohol film could not be better, with David Cameron this week making clear he is taking a personal interest in the development of the government’s new alcohol strategy. I just want them to look at the right questions. I have an interview in the Sunday Express tomorrow on some of the themes from the film, Britain’s Hidden Alcoholics.
As for the bagpipes film, you will get to meet members of my family, my Mum included, and some of my relatives from the Hebridean island of Tiree where my Dad was born and raised. There are some fabulous shots of the island, and I hope a few tourists are drawn there as a result. You’ll also get to meet my piping mentor, a young guy called Finlay Macdonald, who is one of a group of young Scots adapting pipe music for a new generation. He is a terrific player, and a great teacher. The film culminates in me playing tunes chosen by Finlay in front of a frighteningly well informed audience of 2,500 people in Glasgow.
I suppose both films have me looking back at different parts of my life, my drinking in one, my music (in which drinking played a big role) in the other. But I hope they also have a sense of the future as well as the past, that the alcohol film gets a few people to reassess their relationship with booze, and the bagpipe film does a little to promote pipe music and the attractions of Celtic culture and Hebridean scenery.
PS … The new coat, which features in both programmes, is the one I have mentioned before, sold to me by a brilliant Louis Copeland sales assistant at Dublin airport … The one who taught me how to get four bags into one and defeat the Ryanair luggage police.