Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Covenanters in Ulster - coming soon to BBC Radio Ulster

Last Saturday, Dr William Roulston and I spent most of the day with Laura Spence of BBC Northern Ireland, and Elizabeth Rice and David Walker of Blackthorn Productions. We recorded a special edition of Radio Ulster's "A Kist o Wurds" about the Covenanters in Ulster - it will be broadcast in three weeks' time at 4pm on Sunday 1st November and repeated at 7.30pm on Wednesday 4th November.

It comes hot on the heels of an edition of Kist where Laura, Elizabeth and I did a lengthy but fairly informal piece about Newtownards Priory, and a shorter piece about very rare edition of the Montgomery Manuscripts, which had been discovered by my old friend Jim Tollerton of Stacks Bookshop in Dundonald. That programme was broadcast on 20 September, and I had lots of positive comments about from folk who heard it.

• BBC Radio Scotland have also recently made a programme about the Covenanter "prophet" Alexander Peden which will be broadcast over the coming weeks too. I understand it will be presented by Richard Holloway, Chair of the Scottish Arts Council. He presented the tv series "The Sword and the Cross" a few years ago which also touched on the Covenanters.

• I'm told that BBC Scotland television have also completed an hour-long episode of their mega series A History of Scotland about the Covenanters. The first five episodes in the series dealt with ancient and medieval Scotland and were originally broadcast this time last year (they've recently been repeated on BBC Four). The second five episodes begin in the late 1500s and will be broadcast starting on 8th November, with the last of the original five programmes, "Project Britain" currently viewable online on BBC iPlayer. The series is presented by Neil Oliver.

The Covenanters' story deserves a wider Ulster stage than just 30 minutes on radio - and sadly I expect that the BBC Scotland programmes will reduce Ulster to a footnote - but hopefully the programme will be a first step to something bigger. With thanks to everyone for the enormous graft that's gone into making the programme happen.

(The photo above is of the Alexander Peden memorial at Glenwherry, County Antrim - just up the Douglas Road at Mistyburn. Click to enlarge)