Why Scottish television drama goes beyond Rebus and Taggart
Recent TV drama includes Lip Service, Single Father, Waterloo Road and The Field of Blood
A look at recent Scottish television drama reveals far more than police shows – whether it’s lesbian life in Glasgow, the travails of comprehensive teachers or the pressures on a desperate dad …
Not so very long ago, Scottish television drama was dominated by Rebus and Taggart. The audience-conquering popularity of STV’s Edinburgh and Glasgow cops was such that you could be forgiven for thinking Scotland hosted or produced little but crime dramas for the small screen. In more recent years, with the retirement of Inspector Rebus, and Taggart settled into the background as one of the UK’s longest-running television shows, television drama made in Scotland has become more diversified, arguably providing viewers with a broader reflection of life north of the border.
Last year’s The Field of Blood, a two-part thriller set in a Glasgow newsroom in the 1980s, adapted by Denise Mina from her own novel and starring Peter Capaldi, was the perfect example of quality home-grown drama. It was nominated for three BAFTA Scotland awards with Jayd Johnson winning best television actress for her role as Paddy Meehan. Earlier this year, series two of Lip Service, the show about a group of lesbians living in Glasgow starring Laura Fraser, was screened on BBC Three. Fraser also appeared alongside David Tennant, who, post-Dr Who, returned home to make the four-part drama about a dad cracking up, Single Father. He was nominated for two acting awards for his performance. More recently, BBC One’s series about teachers in a challenging comprehensive school environment, Waterloo Road, has relocated from Rochdale to Greenock. And more recently still, Douglas Henshall has been announced as Detective Jimmy Perez, star of the BBC One two-part crime drama, Shetland, to be filmed you know where.
OK, so Scottish television does give good cop. But it is also giving us a lot more than that.