Machair (1993–1998)

TV Series   |  Drama

Episode Guide

Trials and tribulations of the people of Lewis in Scots Gaelic.


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11 August 2006 | geezabrek-1
| an extensive low-lying fertile plain
Well it was a soap. On STV. In Gaelic. It was set in a fictional FE college in Lewis but it was mostly set in villages rather than in town.

There was nine series, created, story-lined, written and produced by Peter May and Janice Hally for STV. They shot ninety-nine half-hour episodes entirely on location on the Isle of Lewis between August 1992 and September 1996, so someone must have been watching it.

Machair is a Gaelic word that describes an extensive low-lying fertile plain, and that describes the show really.

I think it was on on Sundays, but if so that would have been silly because not many people on Lewis would have seen it so I imagine it was shown on other days too at least on Grampian. I never see it listed on TeleG on Channel 8 on Freeview, which is a pity because it was better than some of the other stuff shown on that embarrassment of a channel.

It had Dolina MacLennan, who played Ishbel, the traditional soap old lady. She is a seriously distinguished actress, singer and storyteller who did stuff with 7:84 among others and was in The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil and continues to work in Theatre in Edinburgh and elsewhere. According to Dick Gaughan's website she is the first person ever to receive an "A" level in Gaelic - its teaching had been banned in secondary schools for a very long time & just started again after WWII.

It also had Shaun Scott out of The Bill, even though he is English and doesn't speak Gaelic. He was some sort of a villain. Interestingly Machair doesn't appear in his list of shows on IMDb.

Right enough, IMDb hasn't listed any of the cast and the forms won't let me add names. (This is me in 2008 - I see someone called Erika Hoffman was in two episodes. No, I've never heard of her either.)

It had Anna Murray who I only mention because she recorded a tune called "Last Tango In Harris" which is quite funny, really.

Och well it had all the usual soap characters. I can't remember if there was a soap bitch but there must have been. The Shaun Scott character can't have been that much of a villain or I'd have remembered, but neither was anyone else. There wasn't a great peat stack landslide. Nobody got stuck in a bog, nobody went mad with a herring gutting knife, and there certainly wasn't a long running gay character, although the barman might have been - he had that look about him. Only kidding, Iain.

There is very little chance indeed of it coming out on DVD unless the Scottish Executive or someone like Comunn na Gàidhlig pays a huge subsidy, but you never know.

But it is being shown on BBC Alba, in 2010, so a whole new generation will be able to enjoy it.

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Scottish Gaelic

Country of Origin


Filming Locations

Isle of Lewis, Scotland, UK

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