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No Mean City: 1914 to 1950s

Culture and Leisure

Radio and Television

By Adrienne Scullion

After some experimental efforts, broadcasting began in earnest in Scotland on 6 March 1923 when the BBC's "5SC" station began transmitting from Glasgow. The station presented a mix of music, talk and news including "outside broadcasts" from around the city, the first being extracts of Das Rhinegold transmitted from Glasgow's Coliseum Theatre on 29 March.

BBC broadcasting expanded until there were studios in Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Inverness and Dundee. The broadcasters used local talent as presenters and gradually began to commission literature, drama and even music for their airwaves. Companies such as the Scottish National Players presented many of their stage plays on air and their members were the mainstay of many drama and prose broadcasts. This kind of work contributed to the establishment of an indigenous acting profession based in Scotland.

Although materials created from the London centre were often transmitted, Scottish broadcasting soon developed its own style and voice. Its programming was dominated by adaptations of Scottish novels and short stories. Favourite writers included Walter Scott, John Galt, and Robert Louis Stevenson whose works were adapted frequently by skilled writers such as Robert Kemp who, along with James Bridie, was one of the most prolific of the early writers. Children's programming was a feature of the BBC's output from earliest days and Kathleen Garscadden was particularly famed in her guise of "Auntie Kathleen". However, perhaps the most celebrated of the Scottish programming was that Saturday evening institution, The McFlannels, which featured the lives of a fictitious Glasgow family and began transmission in 1939.

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