As the last few hours of 2010 ebb away and revellers around the globe prepare to enjoy New Year’s Eve, or Hogmanay as it’s known officially here in Scotland (it’s against the law to call it anything else – do so and you’re force-fed battered Mars Bars and cans of Irn Bru for the first week of the new year), I thought I’d share with you some examples of past celebrations from Scottish broadcaster, STV.
I’ve mentioned here before that for the past few months I’ve been working with the channel to bring some archive series to YouTube, and a few weeks ago I was able to witness some scenes of revelry from bygone eras as Hogmanay specials were liberated from the vaults and digitised.
The first programme available to watch in full comes from STV’s first year of service in 1957, as producer Rai Purdy and presenter Gordon Arnold give viewers “a wee peek” of the live broadcast from Glasgow Cross in A Guid New Year from Glasgow. Purdy, a newcomer to Scotland, offers an insight into what Hogmanay is all about while seemingly directing proceedings from the STV nerve centre in Glasgow’s Theatre Royal.
With a look back at news footage from 1957, music from the Phoenix Choir, interviews with members of the public, an appearance from comedy due Mike and Bernie Winters and a glimpse of a Glasgow tram, this is a fascinating glimpse of the past which it’s hard to believe still exists.
From 1957 we jump forward to 1978 for Out With the Old in With the New, a frankly astonishing disco-infused concoction hosted by former-Saint, Ian Ogilvy, who introduces us to some “wonderful Scottish girls” in the shape of Janet Brown, Beryl Reid, Amy MacDonald, Una McLean, Marie Gordon Price, Annie Ross, Molly Weir and the lovely Lulu. There are also appearances from Rikki Fulton and Johnny Vivian, the latter introduced in a rather unique way.
With a few comedy sketches (look out for Rikki Fulton at 23.45) and some song and dance routines which are so OTT that they make Strictly Come Dancing look like a dull weekend in Bognor, this is the sort of programme you knew probably existed but didn’t quite believe ever did.
It all ends with a mass dance number headed up by Molly Weir, with Ogilvy given a ribbing by a few of “the girls” for not being Roger Moore. Brilliant. No, really it is.
Moving onwards to 1983 and we’ve got a The New Year Show hosted by comedian Andy Cameron in front of a bemused audience. Kenneth McKellar, The Alexander Brothers and The Scottish Fiddle Orchestra are on hand for musical entertainment, all held together by Cameron’s jokes.
We’re on the set of STV show Thingummyjig for The New Year Show 1985 as Russ Abbott makes an appearance with a song which screams 1985 from every syllable. Allan Stewart tells a few gags while Lena Zavaroni and Sydney Devine are on hand for a few more songs. Abbott returns to close the show with a rendition of You Cannae Push Your Granny Off A Bus (yes, really) before the whole thing implodes and a nation weeps.
The three most interesting Hogmanay shows come in the shape of the 1990, 1991 and 1992 programmes. Clearly tired of the perception of Hogmanay as an excuse for fiddle music, STV took a new approach by creating mini dramas around the festivities, recruiting actor and writer Alex Norton for script duties.
Norton decided to go a bit meta for these, with 1990’s A Guid New Year opening on a traditional scene of wee Stewart Anderson performing from the Cowcaddens studios, before pulling back into the flat of old Granny McFaddyn where she’s enduring Hogmanay on her own.
Granny is then awoken by the arrival of actor James Macpherson (Taggart’s Mike Jardine) at her door, who invites her downstairs to a party attended by various STV celebrities of the day, including Mark McManus, Elaine C Smith, Forbes Masson, Johnny Beattie and The Corries. And Sydney Devine.
Each celeb performs “a turn” for Granny, with various levels of success. It’s a bizarre experience, but the team behind it are to be applauded for daring to try something new.
The same idea is in place for A’ the Best in 1991 in which STV attempts to put on a Hogmanay show from the town of Kirkdouglas, but it doesn’t quite go to plan. Elaine C Smith is back, as is Macpherson, while Tutti Frutti’s Katy Murphy makes her Hogmanay debut and the late Jack Milroy sings Always Look on the Bright Side of Life. We also see behind the scenes of the programme, Muppet Show-style, and a running gag is introduced where the actors keep alluding to the fact that last year’s show was a disaster.
Finally, 1992’s Out With the Old sees the great John Grieve (The Vital Spark) appear as a one-time entertainer living in a home for retired performers who’s planning a quiet Hogmanay. When he discovers that his niece, Katy (Katy Murphy) is hosting STV’s Hogmanay show, he decides to watch it on TV, only for the cast of the programme to arrive at the home to perform due to the TV programme being pre-recorded.
Allan Stewart, Eileen McCallum, Dorothy Paul, Johnny Beattie and Andy Cameron are all here to entertain us with more songs and gags, and it’s all great fun. A highlight is Stewart and Cameron’s take on The Alexander Brothers and Grieve’s turn at the end of the show.
It’s interesting to watch the evolution of STV’s output with this selection, from a traditional take on things right through to the channel actively taking the mickey out of its own programming while still slyly giving viewers what they expect.
The episodes from the 1990s are the highlight for me, the actors and performers given some witty scripts from Norton, while director Haldane Duncan must have had an interesting time trying to fit everyone in to those small sets.
With this year’s Hogmanay output on all channels looking rather anaemic, you might be better off booting up YouTube come 11ish tonight, letting one of these programmes from yesteryear see you into 2011.
Whatever you do, have a good one.