I suspect I was just very rude to a lass trying to book me for a BBC Scotland TV programme. I asked if I could use the Dundee studio. She said it depended where other guests were and if she could find someone to let me in outside normal hours – but would probably be OK because the programme was keen to "trundle round the Scottish countryside." Now I've shrugged off similar comments a thousand times. During a recent conversation a BBC Scotland producer asked if I still lived in "the boondocks." Again, I know he didn't mean to be deliberately negative –he comes from further north than me.
But since I got some things off my chest about BBC Scotland's Glasgow-centricity in this week's Scotsman column – I'm feeling too bolshy to let these comments pass. Dundee is Scotland's fourth city – it's not the countryside. And even if the BBC is prepared to wearily accommodate people who live "out here", I don't have a pressing need to take part.
There is not enough petrol in the ground, money on the trees or hours in the day to justify a 3 hour round trip to Glasgow for a three minute appearance when a perfectly functioning studio is relatively close in Dundee. And yet many BBC producers effectively insist that folk far busier than me drop everything to head to Glasgow – however big a hole that leaves in their day. I suppose if people are keen enough to be on TV they're "happy to travel." I suspect that also makes it hard for them to question the BBC's "terms of trade."
So I feel I must. Am I the only non-central belt dwelling Scot who doesn't see nearly enough smart, informed, kindred spirits on BBC TV Scotland current affairs – especially discussing the independence referendum? It's not even the whole Central Belt that's favoured with the chance to be on BBC TV – but a select suburban few. I'd guess folk from Bathgate, Larkhall, Easterhouse and Irvine are as rarely heard as folk from Inverness, Aberdeen or Barra. And this isn't just a token matter of hearing different accents. Brian Taylor's programme on Radio Scotland had a fab debate today from Shetland with totally different perspectives. Really rich, provocative listening that reminds you of Scotland's life-affirming diversity – on radio. The technology and local studios are there to involve folk across Scotland in BBC Scotland TV debates too. The budget is there for programmes to travel. But the mountain is still expected to come to Mohammed.
Not this stubborn little Sidlaw.
But apologies to the producer lass all the same.