An examination of the life, works and legacy of Robert Burns is being offered in a new documentary amid a muckle of programming for the Bard on the BBC Scotland channel.
Presented by novelist, playwright and performer Alan Bissett, Inside the Mind of Robert Burns takes a detailed look at the man, rather than the legend, who is celebrated across the world on Burns night.
Alan Bissett explores the complex brain of this poetic genius and his many contradictions from his love of women to his exploitation of them, from the republican fire-brand, who was also a social-climbing Excise man, to the advocate of freedom who almost became a Caribbean slave master.
The documentary is as Bissett says: ‘Robert Burns as a human being rather than as symbol of Scottishness or masculinity or radicalism…So we’re going to illustrate the different sides of Robert Burns – the good and the bad!’
Inside The Mind of Robert Burns will go out on BBC Scotland on Tuesday, 21 January, at 10pm, and will also be shown on Burns night at 9.40pm.
On Burns night, on 25 January, the BBC Scotland channel will also transmit a new short film inspired by Address to a Haggis, from the same production team behind the acclaimed short film TAM, shown last year which was inspired by the famous poem Tam O’Shanter.
Produced by Velvet Wolf Films, Haggis is a light-hearted drama following the lives of the MacNeep family in their ill-fated plans to get together for Burns night 2020.
Haggis factory owners Jimmy (Jimmy Chisholm) and Isobel (Elaine MacKenzie Ellis) are keen to brag about their latest award for their outstanding Haggis recipe at the annual family Burns night reunion.
But the question is whether their grown-up children, beset by their own vagaries of life, will make it to the table in time. The film will transmit on the BBC Scotland channel at 9.30pm.
Further programming on the night includes:
- Burns, My Dad and Me – focusing on the Scottish singing legend – who introduced many to the Burns’ songs, – Bill McCue through the reflections and memories of his daughter Kirsteen
- Burns in the USA – a look at the Bard’s impact on America
- A reshowing of the short film Tam.
On Burns night, there will be a special BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra concert broadcast live on BBC Radio Scotland under the banner of Classics Unwrapped at 7pm.
For this special concert, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra is joined by Eddi Reader and fellow singers to celebrate the Bard’s iconic song canon. Auld Lang Syne sees Reader – along with Karen Matheson, Jarlath Henderson and Shona Donaldson – revisit orchestrations created by Kevin McCrae for her acclaimed Burns album.
This is an evening highlighting the poet’s presence and influence across genres, geography and languages and features brand-new orchestral treatments by contemporary arrangers. Radio Scotland’s Classic Scottish Albums will also focus on Reader’s Burns album, with a special new podcast going live at noon on 25 January and broadcast the following day.