A collective voice for literature and languages in Scotland

The Big Scottish Book Club on BBC Scotland

BBC Scotland has commissioned a new Arts series to celebrate literature. The Big Scottish Book Club is to be hosted by award-winning author Damian Barr.

Produced by IWC, a Banijay Group company, the new 4×60 series will air later this year on the BBC Scotland channel. Filmed in two different locations, each week Barr will meet a trio of acclaimed writers from the worlds of fiction, non-fiction and poetry.

Some may be from the place where the show is filmed, or their work reflects it; others will be famous writers with a less obvious connection, and some will be literature-loving celebrities who can talk passionately about the works that have played a role in their lives. Each episode will be filmed as live and performed in front of an audience. This show celebrates books and authors from around the world and shines a spotlight on Scottish writers.

There will also be items with local book lovers in each episode, with details of the places and contributors to be featured to be announced at a later date.

The format of the show is inspired by Damian Barr’s renowned Literary Salon, currently resident at London’s Savoy Hotel.

As host of the salon, Newarthill-born Barr has interviewed a diverse range of established and emerging names from the literary world, ranging from Bret Easton Ellis to Armistead Maupin, Susan Calman, Ian Rankin, Kirsty Wark, Aminatta Forna, Yaa Gasi, Juno Dawson, Caitlin Moran, Alan Cumming and Sathnam Sanghera.

Damian Barr says: “Book sales are higher than ever and book groups continue to flourish (okay, drinking wine and occasionally talking about books). From Wigtown to Aye Write and Edinburgh International, Scotland has some of the best and busiest book festivals in the world. And we’ve given the world some of its finest writers.

“I’m delighted to host the Big Scottish Book Club and invite everyone to join our conversation, readers and writers across the country and the world. Books are for everyone and so is this show.”

Gareth Hydes, Commissioning Executive, BBC Scotland, says: “In conjunction with Damian and IWC, we have worked to give his renowned salon sessions a Scottish twist for the new channel. There are a lot of great Scottish books and authors to discuss and invite on to the show, but it will also feature the international bestsellers, which have got everyone talking.”

Mark Downie, Creative Director of IWC said: “Ever since, as a fan, I first attended Damian’s legendary Literary Salon, I’ve wanted to find a way to bring his electrifying passion for books and beguiling skills as an interviewer to a TV audience.

“Thanks to the BBC Scotland channel we now can. As a Scottish producer, we are all thrilled to be making a world-class series that celebrates Scottish literature for a channel that seeks to reflect the people of Scotland in all their diversity. Our mission with this series is to inspire the whole country to get reading and create a book group for the entire nation, which everyone is welcome to join.”

This article is reproduced from the BBC Scotland press release. 

June 7, 2019

‘Fishnet’ and ‘Maggie & Me’ optioned for television

STV Productions drama team has secured the television rights to a debut novel and a memoir by Scottish authors.

STV Productions has optioned Maggie and Me, the best-selling book by writer and columnist Damian Barr.  A poignant and painfully funny memoir about growing up gay in Thatcher’s Britain, it won Sunday Times Memoir of the Year, and was BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week. BAFTA nominated writer Andrea Gibb will develop the story as a long running series for TV. Gibb’s recent work includes feature film Swallows and Amazons and BBC series Call The Midwife.

Damian Barr said: “Andrea was always my dream writer – her work keeps me thinking long after I’ve stopped laughing or crying (she regularly evokes both). And with Claire and Sarah I have the dream team. I couldn’t be more delighted.  Maggie & Me is in hands I truly trust and I am excited to work on it with them.”

Fishnetwritten by award-winning journalist Kirstin Innes, has been optioned for development as a serial for television. Winner of The Guardian’s Not The Booker Prize in 2015, this gripping and thought provoking story follows Fiona’s obsessive search for her missing sister who disappeared six years ago leaving her baby in Fiona’s care. As she digs deeper into her sister’s secret life, she is drawn into the dark and complex world of Scotland’s sex industry. The shocking discoveries she makes will challenge everything she believed about sex work, and about the lost sister she thought she knew.

Kirstin Innes said: “Fishnet is about sex work, sisterhood and everyday economics, and is the result of three years’ worth of research. I am incredibly excited by STV’s vision for the book and can’t wait to see it on screen”

Both series will be developed by STV’s Claire Armspach and Sarah Brown, with Sarah as Executive Producer.

Sarah said: “As soon as we read Kirstin’s sensational debut novel, we knew it was the perfect material for television. This is no ordinary crime novel – along with its brilliantly plotted mystery, and wonderful characters, Kirstin’s book asks some brave and provocative questions about the world we live in. Similarly, Damian’s extraordinary book not only defines the experience of a generation of Thatcher’s children but will offer viewers an original, joyful and universal story about the triumph of the human spirit.  We are incredibly excited to be working once again with some of the best creative talent in Scotland and bringing both of these fantastic books to the screen.”

STV Productions has a track record of producing quality drama, with four part thriller The Victim – starring Kelly Macdonald and John Hannah – transmitting later this year on BBC One. STV Productions has also confirmed a second BBC drama commission – Elizabeth is Missing, adapted from Emma Healey’s novel by Andrea Gibb.  Last year, as part of a wider strategy announcement, STV confirmed ambitious plans to grow STV Productions into a world-class production company.

Ends

For further information, please contact the STV press office:

Katie Martin
0141 3003109
katie.martin@stv.tv

Anna Hendry
0141 300 3830
anna.hendry@stv.tv

March 20, 2019