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100 years of Gaelic broadcasting in Scotland


100 years of Gaelic broadcasting in Scotland

A century ago on December 2 the BBC aired its first Gaelic programme shortly after the opening of the broadcaster’s Belmont Street studios in Aberdeen.

And there’s a range of content to mark that pioneering broadcast from Station 2BD – as the inaugural BBC radio station in the Granite City was called – and to reflect on the development of Gaelic broadcasting to the present day.

Margaret Mary Murray, Head of BBC Gaelic Services:

‘This is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate memorable moments from a century of Gaelic broadcasting, to reflect on how our services have developed for audiences in Scotland and beyond and to look ahead to exciting new developments for Gaelic broadcasting in a truly digital age.”

The first BBC radio broadcast in the Gaelic language was aired on Sunday 2 December 1923 – a 15-minute religious address by Rev. John Bain, recorded in the High United Free Church in Aberdeen. It heralded the beginning of a radio service which developed into BBC Radio nan Gàidheal – launched in 1985 – following an expansion of programming through BBC Radio Highland and BBC Radio nan Eilean.

Another important milestone for Gaelic broadcasting was reached in 2008 when the television channel BBC ALBA – run as a partnership between the BBC and MG ALBA, the Gaelic Media Service – was launched.

A range of content will be marking this significant milestone including the Gaelic news service, BBC Naidheachdan which will be broadcasting live from Aberdeen on Friday, 1 December, on Aithris na Maidne and Aithris an Fheasgair on BBC Radio nan Gàidheal and An Là on BBC ALBA, as well offering content on digital platforms.  This follows BBC ALBA’s Eòrpa, which assembled a panel of experts and community representatives earlier in the week to discuss the future of the language.   This programme is available to view on BBC iPlayer.

On BBC Radio Nan Gàidheal, Chuala Mi, shares the station’s current presenters and staff’s memorable broadcast moments, revealing what kind of radio inspired and captivated them.  The series features a personal choice of memorable radio moments creating a specially curated  playlist from the Gaelic radio library and is available to listen on demand on BBC Sounds.

In Craoladh na Gàidhlig aig 100, broadcaster Kenny MacIver takes the audience through the story of Gaelic broadcasting across the past century to the present day service on radio, television and online, elements of which bring together audiences across the world.

There’ll be a Centenary Reception in BBC Scotland’s Pacific Quay centre on Friday 1 December, with current and past staff, presenters and contributors, gathering to mark the milestone. That same evening in Inverness another event linked with the centenary will see journalist and broadcaster Donald Morrison deliver the Gaelic Society of Inverness Lecture on the life and work of Gaelic broadcasting pioneer Fred MacAulay.

On Mac’illeMhìcheil on BBC Radio Nan Gàidheal on Friday evening, John Carmichael and guests celebrate 100 years of Gaelic broadcasting on the BBC. On Sunday 3 December Alleuia! 100 on BBC Radio nan Gàidheal and BBC ALBA, presented by Iain MacKinnon and Rev David Nicolson, will link to that first broadcast, the religious service from Aberdeen and on a fabulously entertaining and inspiring range of programme clips from across the years is available to watch and listen on the Gaelic broadcasting timeline.

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