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  • 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.
  • I am not usually a watcher of soaps, yet I look forward to this delightful series every week. The backdrop of island scenery lends a sense of naturalness to each episode. There's no shortage of outdoor shots of coastal Hebrides. Unlike most soaps there is no real outrage or malevolence permeating the plot. Nothing majorly disastrous ever happens, and misunderstandings are generally peacefully resolved. Shot in low resolution format with a clunky script and less than totally professional cast gives the whole effect a seemingly more realistic appearance than the many polished productions on offer. There is a kind of naivety in the characters that is really charming. For example unlike modern productions where the characters need to be violent and abusive, Machair offers us an antidote, whereby emotional outbursts are expressed as petulantly meaningful looks and a fair amount of pouting, rather than gratuitous amounts of stabbing and beating. So far there has been one slightly bloodied nose and one rather school boyish tussle. We are also treated to a fair amount of island mentality as local characters emerge in the plot, magic
  • In response to geezabrek-1, there's a lot of inaccuracies in your review.

    First of all, there was 12 series, not nine, and there was 151 episodes, not 99. Peter May and Janice Hally left after eight series and 99 episodes but the series continued with other writers. All in all, there was 12 series and 151 episodes.

    Secondly, the series was named as such because the language, like the Machair landscape, is under the threat of extinction.

    Finally, there IS a cast list for Machair. I added them myself.

    G. P. Rose
  • Warning: Spoilers
    'The machair always calls you home' - the proverb quoted by the characters in Machair.

    Machair is the typical short grass full of harebells and cowslips that grows at the edge of the sea on the islands bordering the Atlantic west of Europe.

    Here, 'An Fear Mor' (the great man) who founded the Gaelic college on the island has died, leaving a will that bequeaths his estate to his legitimate son, a London-born man with no love for Gaelic or Scotland.

    It is widely thought that the trusty assistant of An Fear Mor, a man with a strange resemblance to this son, is also a son; it shocks the islanders when they hear of the will, as it was expected that he would leave his acres, his money and his problems to this man, who has been his faithful helper since childhood.

    The stage is set for conflict - and in an island full of secrets, this is just the start. There's the returned teacher with his city wife - who doesn't realise that it's a sin to hang out washing on the Sabbath. There's the helpless attraction between this teacher and a young woman... And there's the teacher's old mother, who has the second sight, and foretells events through double-speak.

    Every character is related to every other in half a dozen ways; there's a claustrophobic sense of secrets concealed by lies and sometimes by truth; revelations unreel one after another as reality writhes and changes - and all set against the beauty of the wild landscape.

    The Gaelic is startlingly like Connemara Irish - Teilifis na Gaeilge, now TG4, showed this with subtitles in its early days and the subtitles were often less understandable than the original. The acting is top class, and the writing brilliant - terse, incisive and imbued with the poetry of its native language.
  • I dont know if its the poor acting, weak directing, ugly people or borking setting. but this is a big pile of garbage and how it got anything more then a 1 star on IMDB must mean that the washed up cast and crew are rating this title. HA HA HA.