28 Oct 2009

Scotland's history... and the pursuit of happiness?

Neil Oliver

Neil Oliver

BBC One, Scotland, Sunday 8 November, 9.00pm

A History of Scotland returns to television screens in early November, taking the story up from the 1600s to the present day. The award-winning BBC Scotland programme, which is co-produced with The Open University, is the flagship television series of the broadcaster's Scotland's History project, which also includes radio, online and events.

On the next five parts of the television series, presenter Neil Oliver says: "We are looking at a period of 400 years within which Scotland is a country punching above its weight – internationally dynamic in terms of industry, ideas and sheer get up and go, but that as we'll see was part of the problem.

"The country was transformed from a poor northern backwater with a serious image problem into one of the richest nations on Earth. Atlantic trade kick-started a profound economic transformation and provided the foundations for huge social change and rapid industrialisation with Scotland contributing new ideas and modern thinking through the Enlightenment, and then latterly becomes a major industrial player.

"Scotland burst into this modern world with a bang, but on the home front there was a cost...

"Scotland makes its mark on the world but she does it by exporting her most valuable commodities - her people and ideas."

Ian Donnachie, Professor in History at The Open University and academic advisor for the series, says: "As the series moves on in time it highlights major themes in the history of Scotland to our own times. Many important and controversial issues that are addressed and debated in the programmes help to explain how Scotland came to be the country it is today.

"No doubt the series will continue to provoke lively debate over major strands and personalities explored through Neil Oliver's lively presentation."

Editor’s Notes:
A History of Scotland is a co-production between The Open University and the BBC. The Executive Producer is Neil Mcdonald; the Series Producer is Richard Downes. BBC Commissioning Executive for The Open University is Catherine McCarthy. The Broadcast Learning Executive for The Open University is Caroline Ogilvie. The Open University academic for the series is Professor Ian Donnachie.

The OU and the BBC have been in partnership for forty years, providing educational programming to a mass audience. In recent times this partnership has evolved from late night programming for delivering courses to peak-time programmes with a broad appeal, to encourage wider participation in learning.

The Open University has produced a series of 10 free postcards, to accompany the season, which depict key scenes from Scottish history. They can be obtained by calling 0845 300 8850 or from www.open2.net

The first five parts of the series A History of Scotland were broadcast late last year. More details are available on bbc.co.uk/scotlandshistory.

The Open University in Scotland is hosting a debate on Wednesday 11 November, The Making of A History of Scotland. BBC producers Neil McDonald and Richard Downes, and series historian Mark Jardine will be joined by historian Catriona Macdonald to discuss and debate the issues involved in presenting Scotland’s history. Chaired by journalist and broadcaster Ruth Wishart, the discussion will be illustrated by clips from the television series.

This Open University debate is part of the Edinburgh lectures series which runs from 1 October 2009 to 23 February 2010. For details of the event, please see the link right.

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