The Hot 100 2008

Mark Neville

Mark Neville's Fancy Pictures

Best in show

It's been a helluva year. 2008 has been a time of significant global change, socially, politically and culturally, with Scotland no exception. So here, for your delectation, is The List's pick of the 100 people, places and things that rocked our world over the last 12 months. Most of them are Scots, whether native or adopted, and all contributed positively in some way to our culture.

100 Drums of Death

Techno warrior

With his Grim Reaper-esque onstage persona, Drums of Death (aka Colin Bailey) mixes techno with grime for a unique take on electronica. His dark hybrid productions and blistering live shows have led to him working with Peaches and touring the US with Hot Chip. (HN)

99 Richard Wilson

Grumpy old dude

He may have taken a fair bit of persuasion to take on the role, but as Merlin's mentor, Gaius, Wilson has revelled in swooshing around in a robe and thick Grace Kelly-like blonde hair. And those respectable ratings figures must have helped his mood. (BD)

98 The Parsonage

Pop choir

In their short life they've recorded with Echo and the Bunnymen, appeared onstage at Hampden with Rod Stewart and released their debut EP This Ain't No Lovey Dovey on Optimo's OSCarr label. The 40-strong Glasgow folk choir's live reputation has only swelled this year, culminating in a Hank Williams tribute show in November. (DP)

97 Keith Fleming

Peerless performer

Following on from his joint CATS award-winning turn as young Peer in Dundee Rep's Peer Gynt, this stalwart of the Rep's ensemble was nominated as best actor in the UK-wide TMA Theatre Awards for the same role. Fleming won plaudits as Eilif in the Rep's Mother Courage and Her Children, and starred in Trumpets and Raspberries at the Royal Lyceum. (AR)

96 Mark Beaumont

Record breaking cyclist

In February of this year the Fifer completed a remarkable round-the-world expedition, breaking the Guinness world record by cycling a mind-boggling 18,000+ miles in 194 days. The 25-year-old pedalled from Paris through Europe, the Middle East, Asia, Australasia and the US, suffering dysentry en route, but beating the previous record by an astounding 80 days. (DA)

95 We Were Promised Jetpacks

Scholarly indie bods

The Glasgow-based quartet deliver a strain of rattling alt.pop which has been described as a more DIY version of Cold War Kids or Arcade Fire. Most pertinently, though, they've also just been signed to Fat Cat Records – wait for their popularity to balloon in the vein of stablemates Frightened Rabbit and Twilight Sad in '09. (DP)

94 The Alhambra

Resurrected venue #1

The Alhambra was formerly a nondescript bingo hall in Dunfermline. The attentions of former Edinburgh Fringe director Paul Gudgin and property developer Bill Fletcher, both locals, has seen this 1922-vintage hall rediscovered as one of Scotland's best venues. KT Tunstall said as much after playing it in July, while Biffy Clyro are among upcoming attractions. (DP)

93 Metro Ecosse Scotland

Film facilitators

Long the secret technical weapon of many a filmmaker across Scotland, corporate and creative production house Metro Ecosse's support for local talent was underlined by the One Minute Wonder and Short Film competitions, both of which The List was honoured to be part. (PD)

92 Tokyoblu

Massed groovers

Formed around a core of John Hutchison and Iain Gibson, Tokyoblu started as an Edinburgh club night in 2002. The live Tokyoblu became the focus of the night, playing groove-laden, up-tempo house. In 2008 they went on to release their debut single 'Groove Tonight'. (HN)

91 JK Rowling

The beedlin' bard

She may be absolutely the most successful author of all time in the world ever, but anything post-Potter was always going to seem like something of an anti-climax. That didn't stop a gajillion people picking up The Tales of Beedle the Bard on its publication this month. (MR)

90 David Greig

Suddenly sunny scribe

The renowned Scottish playwright made a triumphant return to the Traverse with the unashamedly feel-good Midsummer (featuring songs by Gordon McIntyre of ballboy) which breathes life into that most derided of genres, the romantic comedy. (AR)

Alex Smoke

Alex Smoke

89 Hum + Haw

Turntable technologists

A new record label from Glasgow electronica boffins Alex Smoke and Jim Hutchison was always going to be something worth celebrating. Launched as 'an outlet for Alex to experiment with his own productions as well as involving forward thinking local talent from across the globe' H+H has released a slew of complex electro and squelching techno. (HN)

88 Paul Baxter

Boutique classicist

Co-founded in 2000 by Edinburgh University graduates Baxter and Kevin Findlan, Delphian is a modestly sized classical music label which produces at least one album a month. 2008 saw an important first for the label, as their debut orchestral recording – the Scottish Chamber Orchestra's Miracles – was released. (DP)

87 Desalvo

Mentalist rock band

After six years of sporadic demos Desalvo's coruscating debut LP Mood Poisoner dropped from the womb of Mogwai's Rock Action Records, and it was a belter. One of this country's most devastating live musical prospects, we were blown away by their force, ingenuity and crowd scaring/entertaining tactics. (MR)

86 Hobbes

Capital polymath

Not content with being the nicest man in Edinburgh clubbing, Andrew 'Hobbes' Richardson has a finger in more musical pies than most, what with manning the decks at New Idols and Trouble, hosting live music showcase Limbo at the Voodoo Rooms. And lest we forget the record label (Black Spring Recordings, the band management and the rehearsal studios … ). Someone truly dedicated to good music and good vibes. (MR)

85 Slam

Kings of techno

Techno and house duo Slam are consistently at the top of their game. The pair hosted the dance tent at T in the Park (this year featuring Jeff Mills, Aphex Twin, Justice and Carl Craig) while their club night Pressure reached its tenth birthday in November. Their new project Paragraph promises to bring more productions to DJs and fans at an even faster rate. (HN)

84 Brewdog

Maverick beer brewers

Twentysomething beer fanatics James Watt and Martin Dickie set out on a quest to make beer bigger, sharper and stronger than anyone else's. They succeded, and have grown a backroom experiment with half a dozen ingeniously created brews, into a Europe-wide concern for seriously aggressive ales. (MR)

83 Isobel Campbell

Scotland's answer to Nancy Sinatra

Rough meets smooth in Campbell's irresistible pairing with gravelly-voiced Mark Lanegan, which has led to a sublimely strange and frissoned series of songs. This year's critically-loved Sunday at Devil Dirt continued the grunge-folk partnership they began on 2006's Ballad of the Broken Seas, and was created through phone calls between the pair, and recording sessions in Glasgow and the Catskill mountains. Last month's EP Keep Me in Mind Sweetheart was a lusty, honey-sweet PS to the album, and hopefully an appetite whetter for more collaborations. (CS)

82 Peter Capaldi

Devilishly good actor

Hectic TV year for this Oscar-winner with his role as Charles I in Channel 4's excellent The Devil's Whore. He also popped up in Dr Who and Skins while giving his voice over to Scottish animated short, Glendogie Bogey. (BD)

81 Black Camel Pictures

Cinematic gorehounds

The Glasgow-based feature film production company run by BAFTA-winning producers Arabella Page-Croft and Kieran Parker, along with writer/director Steve Barker, unleashed their gore-tastic Nazi zombie flick Outpost on an unsuspecting public to serious cult acclaim. The film has allowed the trio to put no less than six features into development over the coming months. (PD)

80 James Houston

Youtube nudist

Final year Glasgow School of Art student James Houston may have missed the deadline for Radiohead's competition to remix 'Nude', but Big Ideas (Don't Get Any), his beautiful, woozy film of retro computer parts 'trying their best' to play the song, won him over 400,000 YouTube hits, the acclaim of Thom Yorke and the top prizes at graduation. Like nothing you have ever seen. (KI)

79 Popup

Emotive indie charmers

Here's another Glasgow quartet who took their time with their debut, but A Time and a Place was worth the wait, being a heartfelt collection invested with acerbic wit, bitter frustrations and trembling romanticism. Pure, confrontational lyricism from people who understand the essence of good pop music. (MR)

78 David Harrower

Annual scribe

The Glasgow-based playwright enjoyed a particularly productive year. A revival of his controversial 2005 play, Blackbird toured the UK, while he also provided the lyrical script for the National Theatre of Scotland's piece about young people who grew up in care making the transition to independence, 365. (AR)

77 Come on Gang!

Indie inspiration

Get past the novelty that drummer Sarah Tanat Jones also sings lead vocals and witness the ample skills on show from this Edinburgh power pop trio and you'll concede this is no gimmick. We assume sublime singles 'Wheels' and 'Start the Sound' are only the start of it all. (MR)

76 Mary McGowne

Powered pr

The lovely lady who founded the Scottish Style Awards, created with the specific aim of honouring inspirational individuals and enterprises in the fields of retail culture 'who enrich Scottish life'. This year's winners included Shirley Manson, The Glass House and Deryck Walker. (MP)

75 Kate Valentine

Proper primadonna

This was the year in which Valentine, who was born in Inverness, firmly established herself as an operatic rising star. Performances in the Five:15 series earlier this year gave way to a role in Bedrich Smetana's The Two Widows at the Edinburgh International Festival, for which she received overwhelmingly positive reviews. (DP)

74 Calvin Harris


He suffered near disaster when he lost his laptop (which contained his 'work in progress' second album) but survived to remix Cut Copy, Ting Tings and Primal Scream, and became the only Scottish act to score a UK number one single this year, with four weeks at the top with Dizzee Rascal on 'Dance Wiv Me'. (HN)

73 Monir Mohammed

Curry crusader

Monir Mohammed's Mother India restaurants and Wee Curry Shops have expanded gradually in Glasgow in recent years accompanied by almost universal approval from diners. A significant step took place in 2008 with the opening of a first Mother India Café in Edinburgh. It was met with universal approval. (DR)

72 Aidan Moffat

Renaissance raconteur

Falkirk's answer to Serge Gainsbourg has shown his versatility with a beguiling spoken word album, I Can Hear Your Heart Beat, early this year, selected live band shows and even his not-so-secret electro gubbins side project with Mogwai's Stuart Braithwaite, Aloha Hawaii. Moffat is quite the 21st century polymath. (MR)

71 Tapa Bakehouse

Oven ready gourmands

2008 has seen the ethics of food rise up the agenda, giving prominence to local producers of great tasting food such as organic artisan bakers Robert Winters and Virginia Webb of Tapa Bakehouse, who expanded their operation this year with the opening of a second café on the Southside of Glasgow. (DR)

70 Alistair Salvesen

Crafty philanthropist

Salvesen, together with David Weir, rescued Dovecot Studios, and housed it in the former women's pool of the Infirmary Street Baths in Edinburgh and in turn saved one of the city's treasured municipal buildings, offering a brilliant new open space for Edinburgh's burgeoning arts and crafts community. (MP)

69 Tam Dean Burn

Theatre polymath

Bulding on the success of his elegant adaptation of Luke Sutherland's Venus as a Boy, Burn had another great year, reviving the Manifesto political cabaret night at the Tron, adapting The Way of the World for the Oran Mor, and a hugely acclaimed, festering, itchy turn in Harold Pinter's The Caretaker at the Citz. (KI)

68 Anna Meredith

Wayward composer

Meredith's piece for the climax of this year's Last night of the Proms involved over 800 musicians and singers in over half a dozen sites across the UK and a worldwide audience of around 40 million. Not bad for a 30 year old who teaches drums for a living and collaborates with everyone from the Mighty Boosh to Damon Albarn. (MR)

67 Hannah Donaldson

Guthrie girl

Excellent 23-year-old actor who excelled in the title role of Antigone at the Tron last year and has since taken and been acclaimed for just about every big theatre role for young women going, from Juliet at Dundee Rep to her brilliant Chris Guthrie in Kenny Ireland's revival tour of Sunset Song. (KI)


Web euro trash can

If Borat was the character, then this Scottish-created website is the digital home of his people. Playing on the spills and thrills of under-developed eastern European living on one happy portal, the makers enjoyed success at this year's BAFTA awards for this ingenious site. (MR)

65 Jamie Bruski Tetsill

Fashion footsoldier

One of the 'buzziest' young designers of the Scottish fashion revolution quietly taking London, Tetsill still maintains strong links to home. He used Scottish textiles by Pringle in his acclaimed Spring/ Summer collection at London Fashion Week, represented UK design at high profile exhibitions in Japan and China, contributed to the opening exhibition at Dovecot Studios, and was nominated for Designer of the Year at the Scottish Fashion Awards. (KI)

64 Dolby Anol

Ectoplastimic electronicists

Yes, the name is as rude as it sounds and the music isn't much cleaner. This Glasgow production duo squeezes out near the knuckle, dancefloor bating electro grind that has found them in the company of everyone from Kid 606 to Eric 'Call on Me' Prydz. (MR)

63 Ryan James

Fine diner

One of the more assured operators in the Glasgow dining scene, Ryan James, consolidated the revival of Two Fat Ladies at the Buttery as a key local dining spot with a clutch of awards and the opening of the Shandon Belles, a casual bistro located in the basement below the Buttery. (DR)

62 Tommy Sheppard

Stand up champion

Promoter Shepherd has helped stem the flow of Scottish talent over the border by creating established homes for Scottish comedy. He took a principled stand against the division of the Fringe and the establishment of the Edinburgh Comedy Festival, and put on his strongest line-up of talent to date. (MP)

61 Catherine Wheels

Good company

Since its formation in 1999, Gill Robertson's company has produced consistently innovative and watchable drama for younger audiences. Teaming up with the National Theatre of Scotland in 2008, Robertson directed the superb Something Wicked This Way Comes, while Catherine Wheels' innovative production of Hansel and Gretel is the resident show at London's Barbican Centre this Christmas. (KA)

60 Steven Moffat

Doctorin' the Tardis

The Paisley-born veteran writer and producer bagged the best gig in tellyland this year, taking over from Russell T Davies as head writer and executive producer for the fifth series of the revived Dr Who, to be broadcast in 2010. Speaking of his appointment Moffat said it was 'the proper duty of every British subject to come to the aid of the TARDIS'. (AR)



59 A year in the life of … Dirk Douglas

Co-director of Earthy Organics

'Before we'd even opened up our retail operation we'd been contacting suppliers of organic, local, fair trade or seasonal products for a year before opening. I'd spent a lot of time going round the farmers' market, picking up contacts.

Things really speeded up in the last couple of weeks before opening in May, when we found ourselves juggling decoration, stock and publicity. One hairy moment came when we had to move the chill cabinets into the first floor. We thought we'd need to take the windows out, but a forklift truck did the job. It was fun too – particularly when eight of us found ourselves hoisting a life-size plastic cow onto the roof. Hooligans pushed her off a few months later. Poor Pat. She's recuperating in the garden now.

'One of the biggest rewards has been the response from the local community. We're still amazed by the amount of fantastic word of mouth we get. We did Taste of Edinburgh in June, which was a great experience too, the phone wouldn't stop ringing afterwards.

'We launched a delivery service in November, so the orders have been building up. It's been tough at times, but we've had great support. It still gives us a buzz getting nice comments off customers.'

58 Mark Neville

Fancy picture maker

Asked to participate in the highly acclaimed annual Visual Arts Residency Programme at Mount Stuart, the neo-gothic palace of the Earl of Bute, Neville turned his attention to the area's working class. His elegiac, provocative and subversive film Fancy Pictures used 18th century paintings from the palace's collection as a backdrop for footage of mucky farm animals. (RD)

57 The Daily Mash

The mconion

Having grown out of the bored, sick minds of two former journos – Paul Stokes and Neil Rafferty – this site, pitched somewhere between Viz and Private Eye, is surreal, silly, filthy and always funny. The first year's highlights have been published as a book: Halfwit Nation: Frontline Reporting from the War on Stupid. (MR)

56 Alex Reedijk

Opera revivalist

After years of stumbling, Scottish Opera appear to have found their feet, in part thanks to Reedijk's innovative Five:15 series of operas penned by such figures as Ian Rankin. (DP)

55 Cora Bissett

High-livin' lady

With the second series of High Times finally airing on STV, the star of the tower block comedy drama has got some long-deserved recognition. She's had a brilliant, busy year off the box, too, with an acclaimed new tour for her musical Amada, a grotesque comic turn in Slick, and her gleeful, sparkly performance in David Greig's lovely Midsummer. (KI)

54 Vox Motus

Puppet masters

They've been bubbling away at the edges of the Glasgow theatre scene since 2004, and started off the year with a couple of funding disappointments. However, the innovative company have had a triumphant last six months: abandoning their usual multimedia shenanigans for decidedly low-tech, squidgy-bodied puppets, new show Slick won a Fringe First and led to a sold-out Scottish tour. (KI)

53 Washington Garcia

Floating stoaters

This excellent Glasgow artist-run collective and 'floating gallery' took over various unused spaces around the city to put on consistently innovative exhibitions. Their coup in bringing the New York video artist Kalup Linzy over for Glasgow International, led to a little-known artist in a non-gallery space becoming one of the best-reviewed shows of the festival. (KI)

52 John Burnside

Glister in the sun

A solid year for the Fife author and poet as he brought us Glister, the bleak tale of the fictional Innertown, where schoolboys start to go missing. Time at the Scottish Book Trust's writer retreat in Jura will have helped recharge his creative batteries. (BD)

51 Optimo (Espacio)

Deviant club genei

Twitch and Wilkes continue to provide the soundtrack at Scotland's most beloved Sunday institution. Even after hitting their 11th birthday in November they kept the night at the cutting edge of club culture with events like the Optimo Barn Dance and inspired guests such as Joakim, Chrome Hoof and Simian Mobile Disco. (HN)

50 Francis McKee

Creative curator

This year's Glasgow International was that very rare thing: an international art festival programmed to showcase the city itself, with as much prominence given to grassroots guerrilla artworks as the major galleries. Outgoing artistic director McKee has also overseen an excellent year of exhibitions and events at the CCA. (KI)

49 Scott Agnew

Cathartic comic

One of the sharpest comperes around, Agnew put the ghosts of the 2007 Scottish Comedian of the Year final behind him (he was unplaced) by taking the prize in a blaze of glory with non-camp tales of gay threesomes and being a Catholic comic performing to the Orange Order. (BD)

48 Johnny Lynch

Chief pict

This was the year that Johnny Lynch, aka Pictish Trail, who runs Fence Records with his friend King Creosote, stepped forward with his own first album Secret Soundz Vol. 1, a dreamy, bleepy, electro-pop take on Fence's trademark lo-fi folk sound. The spotlight suits him, and KC's sidekick deserves to spend next year above the radar. (CS)

47 Dominic Hill

Stage manager

The artistic director of the Traverse made a strong impression in his first full year in the job, helming Zinnie Harris' provocative play Fall at the Fringe, and directing both The Dogstone and Nasty, Brutish and Short, part of the Traverse's Debuts series of plays by new writers. Hill also found time to branch out from his day job, creating a colourful, energetic production of Verdi's Falstaff for Scottish Opera. (AR)

46 Stoats

Oats dealer

If the simple but effective idea of selling porridge to cold commuters from vans wasn't genius enough, Tony Stone has broadened out his burgeoning Stoats brand in the last 12 months with even more flapjack-style cereal bars and amazing pots of their fruit laced oats for instant consumption anywhere. A young entrepreneur making something resolutely new from something cheerily traditional. (MR)

45 A year in the life of … Allan Hunter

Artistic director of the Glasgow Film Festival

'The programme was launched in January so we hit the ground running post-Hogmanay. The festival itself in February was just a whirlwind: introducing screenings, leading Q&A sessions and meeting the guests who were such a joy. This year the mighty John Sayles came to visit, which was a personal highlight.

'When the festival ends that should be the time to take a break but that is usually when we decide on some of the special events and retrospectives for the following year that require a time and organisation. The 2009 retrospective is devoted to Audrey Hepburn and the country focus is on Mexico so my co-director Allison Gardner has been chasing prints since March and I've been making contact with the Mexican Film Institute and arranging to meet up at the Cannes Film Festival which is indispensable in terms of meeting people, seeing films and helping to spread the word about Glasgow.

The summer was spent starting to work on the long list of titles we might like and that really starts to come into sharp focus in September after attending the Toronto Film Festival given the range of films we can see there. After that it was pretty much all systems go. September and October are spent watching submissions, chasing titles, wooing distributors. Then come November we really start to make the key decisions about the opening night film and the guests we might afford to bring to Glasgow. Everything goes right to the wire. Last year we even chased someone down over the Christmas holidays to get a final decision on a film we really wanted.'

44 PCL

Genial gig hosts

The addition of the Captain's Rest to Glasgow's music venue circuit gave us another magnificently sweaty spot to catch something genuinely new musically and PCL returned the favour out east this summer, reviving infamous club Sneaky Pete's on Edinburgh's Cowgate for some seriously good underground clubbing (the likes of Jerk Alert, ItaloBLACK and Coalition cover everything from drum & bass to indie on the decks) and a dynamic, intimate space to showcase new live music from across the country and beyond. (MR)

43 Charles Avery

Man and island

Avery's current solo show at the National Gallery of Modern Art brings together his on going 'Island' project for the first time. An artistic endeavour initiated in 2004, the artist has simultaneously invented and charted the topography, history and culture of an imaginary island. The result is spectacular — a Turner nomination surely looms. (RD)

Gerry Mulgrew

Gerry Mulgrew

42 Gerry Mulgrew


The prolific Scottish theatre actor and director easily disproved the widely-held belief that you can't be in two places at once, helming the acclaimed Mother Courage and Her Children at Dundee Rep while moonlighting with the Edinburgh-based company Benchtours on their production of Ionesco's absurd comedy, The Lesson. Mulgrew was also jointly nominated (with Keith Fleming) as best actor in the UK-wide TMA Theatre Awards for his performance in Peer Gynt at Dundee Rep. (AR)

41 Mick Imlah

Long lost lyricist

Scots-born poet Mick Imlah is living proof that a wee bit of artistic restraint reaps benefits in the long term. Imlah scooped the £10,000 Forward prize for best collection with his second volume of poetry, The Lost Leader — 20 years after the publication of his first book, Birthmarks. The collection has also been shortlisted for the prestigious TS Eliot Prize. Following these accolades, the poet, who was diagnosed with motor neurone disease at the end of last year, promised to 'take care to be quicker' with his next book. (AR)

40 Neil Oliver

Hunky historian

Oliver is the quintessential contemporary Renaissance man, having worked as an archaeologist, journalist, author and broadcaster. Now best known as the face of BBC Scotland's historical documentary series' Oliver returned to our screens in A History of Scotland, an ambitious ten-part co-production between the Beeb and the Open University, which will broadcast across the rest of the UK in 2009. (AR)

Frightened Rabbit

Frightened Rabbit

39 Frightened Rabbit

Nervy rock rammy

The April release of sky-rocketing Glasgow indie outfit Frightened Rabbit's second album The Midnight Organ Fight on Fat Cat was followed by support slots for Biffy Clyro and Death Cab For Cutie, and a sold-out show at the Arches. Expect the live acoustic album Liver! Lung! FR! and further steps towards world domination next year. (DP)

38 Hannah McGill

Femme Festival

McGill silenced the doubters when she oversaw the Edinburgh International Film Festival's ambitious move from August to June with the grace and equanimity we have come to expect. With excellent box office returns and a roster of fine films from around the world, McGill showed she has taste and vision as artistic director of the UK's premier film festival. (PD)

37 Luke Fowler

Surprising cineast

Glasgow artist and filmmaker Fowler, who creates impressionistic film collages profiling vanguard thinkers and counterculture figures such as Cornelius Cardew and RD Laing, was this year awarded the inaugural Jarman Award by Film London and More4. The award comprises £20,000, along with a commission for four short films for 3 Minute Wonder, Channel 4's shorts strand. (AR)

36 Tom Kitchin

Well named chef

With an extended run all the way to the final of the BBC's Great British Menu, Tom Kitchin has added a national profile to his pedigree as Scotland's most exciting young chef. Further accolades for his restaurant, The Kitchin, included a gong as the AA's Scottish Restaurant of the Year. (DR)

35 Sam Holcroft

Insect enthusiast

Holcroft provided the bravest, most ambitious work in the Traverse and National Theatre of Scotland's Debuts series of plays by new writers. Cockroach, which explores the political and genetic implications of young men being killed in a huge global war, marks out the developmental biology graduate as a major new talent. (AR)

34 Lucy Skaer

Large scale sketcher

Formally and conceptually intriguing, Skaer's distinctive large-scale drawings have this year won her huge critical acclaim. Her solo show at the Fruitmarket Gallery, featuring newly commissioned pieces and works since 2001, marked the introduction of new thematics, and the making of an internationally revered talent. (RD)

33 Janis Claxton

Lady of the dance

2008 was the year Claxton officially arrived on the Scottish dance scene. The Australian-born choreographer has been based in Edinburgh since 2005, but waited until this year to launch her new company with a fascinating Fringe show at Edinburgh Zoo and a tour of beautiful contemporary dance and music. (KA)

32 John McCusker

Scots roots Lynchpin

One of the UK's leading fiddle players, the 35-year-old McCusker has been involved in two high-profile projects this year. The first was Before the Ruin, an album by the folk supergroup of Roddy Woomble, Kris Drever and McCusker; the second, Under One Sky, a touring big band performance of varying folk styles featuring Woomble and Julie Fowlis among many others. (DP)

31 Gerard Butler

Hollywood heartthrob

Screen hunk Butler proved his acting chops this year in a diverse selection of roles. He did it for the kids as the 'world's greatest adventurer' Alex Rover in Nim's Island opposite Jodie Foster. He did it for the fellas as petty gangster One Two in Guy Ritchie's real estate thriller RocknRolla and he more than did it for the ladies in Ghost-style romancer PS I Love You. Now that's what you call an all-rounder. (PD)

30 The Picture House

Resurrected venue #2

After populist nightspot Revolution closed its doors and a brief rebranding as Gig ended in failure, September saw the old Caley Palais on Lothian Road restored to its former glory. A £4.5m investment from national venue chain the MAMA Group has created a vibrant 1500-capacity venue which has already played host to the likes of Travis, Martha Wainwright and Jarvis Cocker. (DP)

29 A year in the life of … Andy Arnold

Artistic director, Tron Theatre

'After nearly a lifetime at the Arches I assumed that that it was a difficult place to establish but even more difficult to leave when we had achieved so much. However, the move to the Tron has been brilliant for me. I feel totally re-energised and want to create new work as if time is slipping away, which, of course it is.

My plan from day one has been to re-establish the Tron as a working theatre company and to develop a busier programme of activity and a heady sense of creativity. I think that's now starting to happen.

I began rehearsing my first production, The Drawer Boy, in my second week on the job here last April, and have since staged the world premiere of Six Acts of Love in September and a Tennessee Williams season of five short plays during the Glasgay festival. We now have a regular programme of shows in the Changing House, and music, comedy and theatre in the old Victorian Bar — including the brilliantly mad Manifesto Kabaret with Tam Dean Burn. On more and more occasions all these performance spaces will have shows happening on the same night, which creates a great atmosphere throughout the place.'

28 Kenny Glenaan

Cinematic specialist

The great white hope of the Scottish social realist film tradition delivered on his promise this year with his award-winning cinema debut feature Summer, a tale of friendship and grief in an ex-mining community featuring Robert Carlyle in his strongest performance in years. Best of all, Glenaan is currently working on two new film projects with the great Scottish writer James Kelman. (PD)

27 Jackie Wylie

Subterranean arts supremo

Former Arches gaffer Andy Arnold's battered old bovver boots were big shoes to fill, but so far Wylie, whose appointment in July made her the youngest artistic director in Scotland and one of only five women in the role, has kept Arnold's punk rock spirit strong in the venue, with an innovative Arches Live programme and plans for future revolution. (KI)

26 Fiona Bradley

Glorious galleria

Consistently varied and persistently strong, the Fruitmarket's programming has this year been outstanding with Bradley at the helm. Established international artists and bold academic group shows have been handled with the same confidence the gallery exhibits towards up and coming Scottish talents. Their show by Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller was arguably the most critically acclaimed show at this year's Edinburgh Art Festival. (RD)

25 William Chambers

The cat with the hats

In January, William Chambers was a shop assistant making gorgeous hats to commission for friends. Come December, he's the winner of Vice magazine's Creative 30, a designer in residence at Che Camille, one of the most in-demand milliners in the country, and Roisin Murphy wears his specially-designed hats on stage. The very definition of a Good Year, we reckon. (KI)

24 Steven Thomson

Galvanising Glasgay

2008 was the 15th anniversary of Glasgay's birth, and the 25th anniversary of Tennessee Williams' death, and it was celebrated in suitable style. Cannily combining the two, artistic director Steven Thomson programmed seven productions of Williams' lesser-known works, plus a bio-play and tie-in film screenings, all over town. In doing so he reinvented the festival and showcased the playwright's continuing relevance. (KI)

23 DC Jackson

Writer on the wall

After increasingly big successes with his lunchtime plays at Oran Mor, this year young Scottish playwright DC Jackson branched out all over the UK. His brilliant touring production The Wall with Borderline, picked him up huge acclaim and a nomination for the Saltire First Book Awards, and he's spent much of the year working as Pearson Writer in Residence at the Royal Court in London. (KI)

22 Martin Wishart

Culinary stargazer

For any high-profile chef, a bit of empire building is always on the agenda. In the last 12 months Michelin-starred chef Martin Wishart kept things local when he established his Cookschool in Leith, released his first cook book and opened a second restaurant within Cameron House on the shores of Loch Lomond. (DR)

21 A year in the life of … Rodge Glass


'I spent much of the last three years writing two books – a novel called Hope for Newborns, and Alasdair Gray: A Secretary's Biography. The biography, in a slightly different form, was also a PhD at Glasgow University, without which I wouldn't have been able to afford to write. So, between all-night sessions trying to put the novel together and following my subject around I was also going to seminars, trying to learn how to become an academic.

Attempting all that at once is a pretty effective way of losing your mind, and I wouldn't recommend it, but as all three projects finally finished I began to feel very lucky and grateful. My novel was published at the beginning of the summer, the biography appeared a few months ago, and I graduate from Glasgow University this month.

I am proud of both the books, and am pleased that they have been received so well, especially the novel, as it was a real struggle early on and I'm really pleased with how it ended up. I now feel incredibly free. I'm having fun writing a part-fiction, part-fact book about a striker who plays once for Manchester United, gets sent off, injures himself and never makes it back. He then develops an obsession with the man who took his place in the team: it's called I Kill Cantona. I'm also the new Writer in Residence at Strathclyde University, where I started out ten years ago.'

20 Sophie Martin

Prima ballerina

French-born Martin joined Scottish Ballet in 2003 and quickly emerged as one to watch. Combining beauty and talent, Martin has been the company's poster girl twice in the past year, for Sleeping Beauty and Romeo and Juliet, playing lead roles in both shows. In August 2008 she was rightly promoted to principal, the highest rank in a ballet company. (KA)

19 Sons and Daughters

Gilt edged rockers

With a big sexy roar, their Bernard Butler-produced album This Gift, all 1960s girl group shimmies and cinematic sweeps, together with sparkly single 'Gilt Complex', marked a new, glossier direction for the Glasgow four-piece this year. They've been selling out increasingly large venues all over the world, hanging out with Nick Cave, and still finding the time to play thoroughly brilliant, sweat-drenched gigs on home turf. (KI)

18 Barry and Stuart

Pure dead magic

The first Edinburgh festival run for twisted, shock-showmen Barry and Stuart turned into a runaway success, as their macabre magic collected five-star reviews and led to an extended run. More telly, more touring, and a probable return to the Fringe beckons in 2009 for the badass pair of anti-Paul Daniels. (CS)

17 Robert Carlyle

Man in the sun

It felt like Carlyle came home this year. He not only scooped himself a Scottish BAFTA for his skilled and [see number 28] detailed performance as the illiterate Shaun, in Kenny Glenaan's excellent Summer but he could also be seen in historical caper Stone of Destiny, feted TV conspiracy thriller The Last Enemy, standalone 24 feature Redemption. Carlyle remains the unstoppable force of the Scottish film industry. (PD)

16 The Inglebys

Visual art visionaries

The family-run Ingleby Gallery's high profile move from the rarified air of their New Town house to the derelict buildings behind Waverley Station has not only galvanised the area and saved the much-loved venue formerly known as the Venue, but they've created the largest private gallery outside of London in doing so. (KI)

Janice Galloway

Janice Galloway

15 Janice Galloway

Modest memoirist

It's been six years since one of Scotland's best and best-loved writers published Clara, a novel based on the life of Clara Schumann. This year she turned the technique on her own life with the fictionalised memoir This is Not About Me, one of the most beautiful, original, stylish and satisfying books of the year. (KI)

14 Biffy Clyro

Hirsute rock heroes

It's been a between-albums year for the grungy power trio from Ayrshire, but they didn't disappear from view while working on the follow-up to 2007's hugely successful Puzzles. Instead, Simon Neil and James and Ben Johnston released single 'Mountains', which got to number five, their highest chart position ever, while they blew away all comers at Glastonbury, T in the Park, Reading and Leeds festivals. A huge UK tour, including two sold out shows tops this off, while the band have already been named as headliners of the Rock Ness festival 2009. (DP)

13 A year in the life of … Grant Morrison

Comic writer/screen writer

'It seems like I've been working like a madman. I've been wrapping up the big two storylines at DC, Final Crisis and Batman RIP [where Morrison killed Bruce Wayne to massive media coverage]. These shallow things still excite me, to actually see them referring to [Batman villain] the Black Glove on the BBC News, was orgasmic. All-Star Superman also finished with great fanfare and was declared by some to be 'the best Superman story DC have ever done', which I loved because three guys from Glasgow [Morrison and artists Frank Quitely and Jamie Grant] did that one. It's got a touch of 1930s Walt Disney, but we're trying to be serious about what Superman represents as an idea with a big old mythical story.'

'Other than that I won a few awards and doing the panel with Stan Lee at ComicCon in San Diego was great. He's just such an old bugger, you think, 'he's an old man, he's in his 80s, so I'd better be kind to this guy'. No, he's sharp as a tack with a really cruel Madison Avenue 1950s wit. He just started ripping straight into me, so we ended up almost having sparring matches. That was one of the highlights of my life. I did another one at ComicCon with Gerard Way [lead singer with My Chemical Romance] with an audience of teenage goths, which was brilliant, he's a smart kid.

'I also finished the Area 51 script for Paramount this year, which underwent a complete re-write – I've got a list of what I can and can't say – there's forms and there's lawyers and stuff. The big news is three things happened to me this summer which were the biggest things which have ever happened to me, but I can't say anything about them.'

James McAvoy

James McAvoy

12 James McAvoy

Wanted man

Genuine spirit of Scotland, McAvoy only saw one of his films released in 2008, but that film happened to be the US box office busting Wanted, a kinetic adaptation of Mark Millar's comic book series. McAvoy has, however, been working his little socks off, with Tolstoy biopic The Last Station now complete, a four-month residency at the Apollo theatre in Richard Greenberg's Three Days of Rain in early 2009 and with Lord of the Rings prequel The Hobbit about to be green-lighted (he's tipped for the titular role), now may not be a great time for McAvoy and his equally talented actress partner Anne-Marie Duff to start nesting. (PD)

11 Kelly Macdonald

Big screen dream

It's been a fantastic year for MacDonald. Most importantly she gave birth to son Freddie Peter Payne in March. Aside from that she turned in a fantastic performance in the Coen brother's best film for years, No Country for Old Men, and she brought gravitas and enigma to her role of doctor Paige Marshall in Clark Gregg's uneven Chuck Palahniuk adaptation Choke. (PD)

10 Cathy Wilkes

Installation innovator

Wilkes earned her 2008 Turner prize nomination with an installation of uneasy abject objects, including mannequins and a supermarket conveyor belt; a provocative entry in an otherwise lens-dominated competition. Continuing to revel in her interest in the ready made, Wilkes' work demonstrates a developed interest in the behavioural orders imposed on women, a practice she has this year refined. (RD)

Rockstar North

Rockstar North

9 Rockstar North

Video game visionaries

The bad boys of the videogames world Rockstar North once again struck gold with the absolutely massive Grand Theft Auto 4. Another gritty trawl through the streets of Liberty City as you take on the persona of Niko Bellic. Setting the standard for what is possible in open-ended gameplay, the attention to detail was astounding, while Rockstar broke yet more records in terms of sales and critical acclaim. (HN)

8 Alasdair Gray

Author/Painter/national treasure

Admittedly, the biggest reason for putting the man Will Self once described as a 'little grey deity' on our Hot 100 list this year wasn't something he himself had done. However, Rodge Glass' memoir/biography Alasdair Gray: A Secretary's Biography, simply served to remind us of the continued genius of one of our greatest national assets. Following the release of Old Men In Love, his first novel since 1996, in late 2007, interest in the writer-poet-playwright-painter and local hero has rocketed back up again. Old Men was nominated for the inaugural Claire Maclean Prize at this year's Aye Write festival. Gray also published Fleck, his Scottish Faust, early this summer, and has been performing from it all over the country, often with his biographer taking the part of God. There was also a renaissance in interest in Gray the artist this year. One of the biggest exhibitions of this year's Glasgow International was Gray's Sorcha Dallas show of never-before-seen paintings. (KI)

7 Mark Millar

Comic and blockbuster movie collossus

Not content with writing the highest selling comic of the last 15 years with Civil War in 2007, Mark Millar has forged ahead in 2008 with some of his best work yet. Kick-Ass was perhaps the most exciting new title of the year, bringing superheroes into the real world, a trick he also pulled off in Marvel's fantasy piece, 1985. He also took over writing Fantastic Four and Wolverine, then upped the action again with War Heroes at Image. Then there was the film adaptation of Millar's Wanted, starring James McAvoy, Angelina Jolie and Morgan Freeman which raked in over $300million, while Mathew Vaughn is currently directing the Kick-Ass adaptation with Millar taking on a co-producer role. It's guaranteed to be another huge world wide smash. (HN)

6 Andy Murray

Tennis tyrant

A serious pre-season fitness regime turned the junior Murray into a top contender on the world stage this year. A fistful of tournament wins in Qatar, Marseille, Madrid, and Cincinnati propelled the Dunblane-born Andy to a career best fourth place in the world rankings in 2008. This season was also notable for the progress in Murray's game as he confidently defeated top seeds Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer to make the world sit up and take notice. (DA)

5 David Tennant

Time travelling thesp

Another bonza year for the Doctor. The Bathgate-born Scot took Dr Who to a new level of national treasure in the fourth new series, this time dragging companion Catherine Tate around the galaxies to deal with the Ood, the Sontarans and rabid Whovian fans.

Tennant also proved his chops in the live arena in a much-anticipated turn as Hamlet with the Royal Shakespeare Company. With nary a sonic screwdriver or CGI monsters to hide behind, Tennant showed compelling range, before announcing that after four one-off episodes he will be surrendering the keys to the TARDIS to concentrate on acting in this solar system. (SB)

4 Frankie Boyle

Strawberry blonde

In Aussie comedy muso Tim Minchin's recent show, he sings a song all about a taboo word. One with an 'n' an 'i', two 'g's, an 'e' and an 'r'. That's right, 'ginger'. While there may still be some misplaced fear and resentment towards our 'carrot topped' brethren, one swaggering redhead blew the rest away this year and that was Glasgow's very own Francis Martin Patrick Boyle.

While Boyle may have been speaking out to exorcise more dark demons of his earlier life, it's clear that the past just keeps on coming back at you. In the immediate wake of the Brand/Ross/Sachs ménage a trois, one particular tabloid went on the hunt of more enforced outrage. Yet all they could dredge up was a two-year-old slight (admittedly a nasty albeit hilarious one) on Queen Liz 2 by Boyle from Mock the Week.

Intriguing then that by the end of the year, he should take up the role of columnist on another (forgive me) red top. 'Sell-out!' you may cry. And sell-out he did, playing to packed houses across the land in this year's tour and shifting 15,000 copies of his jaw-droppingly brutal DVD in its opening day, going on to be the fastest selling debut live DVD in comedy history. Strong rumour has it that Camilla wasn't queuing up for a copy. (BD)

3 Tilda Swinton

Oscar clutching, festival superstar

One time muse of artist Derek Jarman, Swinton's trajectory this year is both a testament to her ability to straddle both the mainstream and the arthouse. The year started in style with her Oscar win for best Supporting Actress in Michael Clayton, then returned as the White Witch in the Narnia fantasy franchise, and excelled in the Coen brothers comedy Burn After Reading. This may seem a long way from the aesthetics of Saint Derek but that's just what she did in her spare time. In 2008 she also starred in Erick Zonca's enigmatic thriller Julia and wrote the narration for Issac Julian's excellent Jarman documentary Derek. In August, Swinton took the helm [alongside Mark Cousins] of the first ever film festival in her home town of Nairn, ushering in a new age of boutique film festivals. (PD)

2 Chris Hoy

Olympic god

When it comes to Scottish sporting achievements in 2008, look no further than track cycling hero Chris Hoy. Having previously been an Olympic silver medalist and multiple world champion, Hoy raised the bar this year at the Beijing Olympics by becoming the first Briton in 100 years to win three medals at a single Olympic games, winning three golds. Not only did this earn Edinburgh-born Hoy the title of 'Scotland's greatest-ever Olympian' but in doing so he also became the most successful Olympic male cyclist of all time. Hoy will be honoured by the organisers of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games with the building of a new Velodrome in his name to recognise his achievements. (DA)



1 Glasvegas - A year in the life of… Caroline McKay, drummer

Rock'n'roll rebels

'This year has been busy, busy, busy. It's been incredible, but it's been quite a steep learning curve. We've had the most exciting and bizarre things happen to us in the last year that we wouldn't change for the world. We've released a debut album; nothing can beat that.

'Recording the album was tough. We were only supposed to be in New York for six weeks but we ended up being there for about eight weeks. We were almost novices as far as musicianship goes, certainly I was, so there were a lot of tears and snotters in that period, but we did it, and that's why it's such an achievement.

'I think we've been quite blessed, all we did was make the album and once that's done it's in the hands of the gods. So it's great for it to have had such a good reception, but even if it hadn't we'd still have achieved our objective of just getting our first album out.

T in the Park was definitely one of the highlights, being told that if we didn't calm the crowd down we were going to get pulled off stage. Which, of course, you shouldn't tell a band, it just excites them even more. But we're surprised every day. We're just back from a European tour and in Germany they're singing back 'Daddy's Gone' in a Scottish accent. It's really bizarre.

'The Christmas Album was great fun, we started it in New York then went to Transylvania to record. It was basically us in a studio that we'd built by ourselves in an old gothic courtyard. It certainly created a certain atmosphere that could only be created in somewhere like Transylvania. We recorded it in October but Christmas would be any time of year if it was up to me.

'There's always a cost and that cost is you miss your friends and your family. You don't have the opportunity to see them as much as you would like, but you can't really complain because it is a fantastic experience. Personally, meeting Debbie Harry was fantastic! And then we end the year playing Edinburgh's Hogmanay, it's just been amazing.' (HN)