1 March 2021 The Irish Film & Television Network
Ulster-Scots Broadcast Funded ‘A Special Relationship’ Airs on BBC 2
01 Feb 2017 :
Journalist Lesley Riddoch explores the historic relationship between Scotland and Northern Ireland, in ‘A Special Relationship’, which starts on BBC Two on Sunday 5th February at 10pm.

The new three-part series, which received funding from Northern Ireland Screen's Ulster-Scots Broadcast Fund, explores how the historic relationship between Scotland and Northern Ireland, is expressed through culture, community, language, work and faith.

Lesley Riddoch moved with her parents to Belfast when she was three-years-old and back to Glasgow when she was 13. She said: “Those connections aren’t just ancient history or shortbread tin versions of culture. The Scots traditions played out in Northern Ireland are alive and kicking. Highland dancing is taught in more schools here than in Scotland. And Northern Irish pipe bands regularly wipe the floor with their Scottish rivals. As for language, it’s important to community and identity in both countries.”

When Lesley Riddoch was growing up in east Belfast she thought she was the only child in Northern Ireland whose parents recited Burns and sang Scottish lullabies. But as she discovers in ‘A Special Relationship’, there are many people in both Northern Ireland and Scotland with the same strong cultural connections and family ties. 

Beginning her journey with a visit to the citadel of the ancient kingdom of Dalriada in Argyll, Lesley then encounters Highland dancers in Co Tyrone and goes on an exploration of the language of Irish and Ulster Scots.

In a hotel outside Belfast, Lesley looks at someone who could be Scotland’s greatest cultural export, Robert Burns she joins the celebrations at a Burns Supper. Later on, she meets the family behind the internationally successful Sollus Highland Dancers in Bready, Co Tyrone; talks to a local broadcaster on the Antrim coast about the words used in the Ulster-Scots language and joins an Irish class in East Belfast to find out why Gaelic and Ulster-Scots play an important part in our shared heritage.

In the second programme in the series, Lesley discovers how communities in Scotland and Northern Ireland share strong ties through music, language, poetry and sport. She meets members of the Colmcille Pipe Band from Londonderry as they prepare for the UK pipe band championships; talks to Scottish broadcaster Stuart Cosgrove about the historic rivalry between Celtic and Rangers and in Ballywalter a poem from her childhood reminds her of the close links between Scotland and the Ards Peninsula.

‘A Special Relationship’ is a DoubleBand production for BBC Northern Ireland. It airs on BBC Two on Sunday 5th February at 10pm.

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