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Bagpipers' lament for BBC 'tartan fun day'

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.. Bagpipers' lament for BBC 'tartan fun day'

Post by wee_fee-Fee on Mon 20 Oct - 9:46:33

THE skirl of the bagpipes has been the war cry of Scots for centuries, and last night they were marching to the door of the BBC.

The Scottish bagpiping bible, the Piping Times, has vented its anger about "grinning personality girl" Jackie Bird fronting a programme that turned the instrument's most prestigious competition into a "tartan fun day".

In a vitriolic editorial column, the magazine said the BBC Scotland coverage of the World Pipe Band Championships was "flippant", "annoyingly presented", and "verging on the unwatchable", as Bird talked over performances and displayed a lack of piping knowledge.


It went on to accuse the TV personality, along with fellow presenter Laura Marks, of "failing hopelessly to disguise the fact that they would rather be anywhere else on the planet", and giving the programme, which should have showcased world-class talent, "a Blue Peter-esque frivolity".

But the organisers of the event said they were delighted with the BBC1 coverage, as it appealed to a wider audience, and the corporation said it received record-breaking viewing figures.

The annual championships were held on Glasgow Green on September 7, and attracted more than 8,000 pipers from all over the world.

It was shown in a 50-minute programme on the evening of Sunday, September 7, at 6.40pm, and attracted 380,000 viewers, which was 100,000 more than last year's programme. As last year, the programme was introduced by Bird, but the format differed with the addition of "roving reporter" Laura Marks, a new BBC Scotland presenter who is a member of Scottish glam rock band El Presidente.

Bird previously caused controversy as a presenter in 2000 when she wore a sequined dress with a plunging neckline for BBC Scotland's Hogmanay broadcast, provoking suggestions that she looked like a chicken.

The Piping Times was disappointed that Bird and Marks failed to convey the gravitas of the piping championship, and said that many readers had voiced their dislike of the programme. The editorial column asked: "Why, when they hire an expert like (Canadian piper] Bob Worrall do they use him so little? Instead we had two BBC 'personality girls' grinning and dashing about, consumed with faux enthusiasm.

"Let the music and the people who make it speak for themselves. Let an informed presenter provide the continuity and the viewer will get quality all right."

The column was written by Piping Times editor Robert Wallace, a top piper and principal of the College of Piping. He told Scotland on Sunday: "The flippant tone is not reflecting the hard work and the sheer brilliance of the musicianship that goes into it. The BBC just made the pipes and drums all kitsch. If a similar show had been broadcast about top violinists or pianists there would be absolute uproar."

He added that the BBC should worry less about viewing figures and more about the quality of its programmes.

The event, which draws 40,000 spectators, has been broadcast on the BBC for the past three years, following a campaign by pipers to televise the competition.

Wallace said: "This is the national music and it should be on national television. We've got enough stories about the pipers there without them having to give it the spin. As a public service broadcaster, the BBC shouldn't be worrying about the number of people watching it. Maybe the answer is to put it on BBC4 and give it the seriousness it deserves."

Responding to the magazine's criticism, a BBC Scotland spokesman said: "The addition of a roving reporter to this year's coverage enabled us to reflect more fully the range of the performances, particularly from the younger musicians. It also allowed us to give our audiences a fuller sense of the excitement of the World Pipe Band championships.

"Many young people attend the event, either to perform or watch, and we are pleased that we focused on that age group, as well as giving due prominence to the elite performers."

The Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association, which organises the competition, said it did not share the magazine's disgust and was delighted with the BBC's new style of coverage.

Chief executive Ian Embelton said: "I understand what Mr Wallace is saying, but the BBC is making commercial TV programmes to appeal to a wider audience. There are a few thousand pipe band people in Scotland but the BBC broadcasts to five million people. It very successfully made a programme with wider appeal.

"We recognise it's an entertainment programme and not a traditional music programme."

He added that the piping world was split down the middle in its opinion of the coverage. He said: "Most of the younger element of the pipe band world liked it, but some of the older traditionalists, and I would include Mr Wallace in that, would like to see a more serious programme.

"But it is 2008 and we need to move with the times."

Bugbears

What else gets up bagpipers' noses?

The inaccurate use of the word "skirl" (see article). A skirl is in fact a bum note.

Drummers. While pipers consider themselves musicians who lead the pipe band, the drummers who trail after them are nothing more than men with sticks.

Bad buskers. Anyone who owns a kilt and can get a sound out of the bagpipes can make money out of tourists in Princes Street in Edinburgh and Buchanan Street in Glasgow.

Rude jokes about them. Why do bagpipers walk when they play? To get away from the noise. What's the difference between bagpipes and an onion? Nobody cries when you cut up bagpipes.
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.. Re: Bagpipers' lament for BBC 'tartan fun day'

Post by Piping Connections on Mon 20 Oct - 13:15:50

who cares what wallace thinks,
It was all about atracting people that knew very little about what we do
its a live event, nought wrong with trying to jazz it up a bit,

How many youngsters will after seeing this programme think ' hey its no about auld farts in kilts after all' and come along and learn or join your local band !!!!
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.. Re: Bagpipers' lament for BBC 'tartan fun day'

Post by wee_fee-Fee on Mon 20 Oct - 15:03:14

yeah I agree, I think we should be pleased we get any footage at all. I remember few years ago I along with a few other members of Clan G and other bands wrote to the BBC for coverage as there was none at all. Just the last three years or so since it has been captured on tv. If ppl were so fussed about how many minutes are spent on the grade 1 bands they can buy the DVD's. There so much more than just pipe bands at the Championships and a lot of ppl go by the name "World Pipe Bnd Championships" and don't actually realise that there's dancing, highland heavy events, drum majors, stalls and stuff. It's good to get a wider audience.
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.. Re: Bagpipers' lament for BBC 'tartan fun day'

Post by Gordy88 on Mon 20 Oct - 17:01:32

Have to disagree I'm Afraid,

True we need more coverage, but not the shoddy crap presented by the BBC.

Sorry to say but it reeks of cheap Scottish 'culture for the masses' right up there with plastic kiltie dolls in plastic tubes.

BBC northern Ireland has done a great job over ther years covering the All Irelands and the Ulsters, proving that it can be done, BBC Scotland failed pretty badly,

Surely 2 hours can be found out of the 17520 viewable hours on BBC 1 and 2 for decent coverage of a world championships, in any event ?

Wouldnt hurt to scrap 95 % of the soaps, would be plenty of room for somrthing requiring some intelligence, ability and commitment

Evil or Very Mad
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.. Re: Bagpipers' lament for BBC 'tartan fun day'

Post by Robbie.Crow on Mon 20 Oct - 18:35:50

i agree with richard here. THe worlds program was not put on to give all of the cheap-skate pipe banders like myself who could not be arsed to pay 20 to get into the g1 areena a place to watch all the grade 1 bands free of charge. it was put on the TV to show people what pipebands are really like. If people want to see every grade one pipeband performance, buy the DVDs. Sure for us, if that was shown on the TV.. it would be great... but any normal person watching it would get bored after the first performance by SFU.. why? because to them it's all the same! But ofcourse, to us - we enjoy seeing waht they are doing.

THe show is first and formost an entertainment show for the general public. IT is not a show for pipe-band-people-only-everyone-else-bugger-aff.

That fit prezenter (big grin) had to pretend she had ADHD in order for the young people of today to watch the show, she was the "youth aspect". Lets face it, if all they had to watch was Bob Worral.... even i'd turn over after 10 mins!

And that after all is what bob warral is there for, for the pipers and drummers watching. he says the technical stuff, but people who dont understand it dont pay attention to it!

IT also lets people see the other side to the worlds (not just the beertent laughing)

aye.. a thought it was well put together... could it have been longer? redneck's act of reproduction aye.. but thats another story!
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.. Re: Bagpipers' lament for BBC 'tartan fun day'

Post by Redneck on Mon 20 Oct - 20:20:09

Spot on Richard 'n Ruby..............I agree, a thought yer woman was a bitta alright too. Never seen 'er in the beertent Greetin , mighta got 'er a wee buckie da warm 'er up. big grin
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.. Re: Bagpipers' lament for BBC 'tartan fun day'

Post by stormy on Tue 21 Oct - 20:19:13

wee_fee-Fee wrote:The inaccurate use of the word "skirl" (see article). A skirl is in fact a bum note.

From a personal point of view I thought that this years BBC coverage was vey poor. I don't recall hearing any band playing any tune from start to finish. This is something the BBC may wish to look at. Talking over the performance of a band was garbage. Just as easy to have a chat show!

Many non pipers and drummers told me they had watched the programme and thought it was vey good. They are liable to attend at the event next year as they didn't realise how exciting a day it was.

Jackie Bird's attire on that Hogmany show was fantastic. No complaints from me on that!!! laughing

As for the "quote" - Not true. A "skirl" can be caused by poor fingerwork or a duff reed. A "skirl" (usually heard when going from the top hand to Low A) is not in itself a "bum note". Playing E with the pinkie of the bottom hand off the chanter ( for example) would be a "bum note".

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.. Re: Bagpipers' lament for BBC 'tartan fun day'

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