The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil on BBC ALBA

Jonathan Melville 4 January, 2012 10

Thanks to BBC ALBA, this Saturday viewers have a rare opportunity to catch a screening of John McGrath’s classic 1974 Play for Today film, The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil.

Originally staged by the 7:84 theatre company, the play tells of the exploitation of the Scottish Highlands from 1746 until 1973, the suppression of the clans, the Clearances and the oil boom of the 70s. All of this is told through drama and music, drawing in the audience with humour that pulls no punches as it delivers its political message.

The BBC’s version of the play, starring Bill Paterson, John Bett and Alex Norton, is hardly ever repeated on TV and is unavailable on DVD. I watched it in the BFI’s Mediatheque in London a few years back, but this is a much easier way to enjoy the film.

You can hear clip from the play on the BBC Education site.

BBC ALBA will air The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil on Saturday 7 January at 23.25 and it’s worth recording just in case it doesn’t appear on iPlayer the next day.

BBC ALBA is now available on the following platforms:

  • Freeview channel 8
  • Virgin Media channel 188
  • Sky channel 168
  • Freesat channel 110
  • Live on BBC iPlayer

Update, 4 January – BBC ALBA has confirmed this evening that the programme has not been selected for iPlayer (rights issues?), so watching it on the night or recording it is going to be the only way to see it unless there’s a last minute change of policy.

Here’s the National Library of Scotland on the play:

  • Simon

    More separatist propaganda being pumped out by BBC Alba. It agenda is very clear.

  • Billy McChord

    Excellent! Makes you wonder why the play is rarely given airtime and is not available on DVD. I’d like to see it being brought up to date taking in the Trump debacle etc.

  • Fraser

    Excellent, at least these things can be shown on BBC Alba. It’s a shame that more of those anti-independence folks can’t see this.

  • Anna Robertson

    Wow, can’t believe I’d never heard of this play. Great viewing and I agree with Billy definitely time for an update including the Trump mess at Menie

  • ivan elrick

    Just caught the second half of it by accident but glad I did.. I work in the oil industry and can see whats coming for future generations.. It aint alot.. The modern SNP’s got vision.. It’s time to get fiscal independence before its too late.. We can use what’s left of oil revenue to invest in the next stage.. A green renewable Scotland with more opportunity for all…. We have a saying here in Scotland.. ‘Never trust a man who doesnt take a drink’.. After simon says comment i’ve got a new one “Never trust a man who doesnt give his last name on a forum”

  • Pete

    “Simon says:
    7 January, 2012 at 7:32 pm

    More separatist propaganda being pumped out by BBC Alba. It agenda is very clear.”

    Simon, you have no soul and simply are ignoring the inevitable. We are grown up and perfectly able to manage our own affairs here in Scotland. Perhaps you might consider growing a backbone and doing your bit rather than propagating the lies and shame visited upon us by Labour et al, Westminster and the failing bankers and other charlatans who have blighted our lives since James of the Glens was so wrongly executed.

    Fan og gu brath

  • Kathryn Wilkie

    I am really disappointed to have missed this having seen the original tour. Its not on BBCi – does anyone know why?

  • Anne

    I also missed it, and would like to see it on Iplayer. why is it not on there?

  • Richard Crawford

    I caught this by accident half-way through and was mesmerised. The cast were excellent and the whole thing has a freshness and directness that just isn’t out there today. It’s almost as though the proliferation of electronic media has reduced the ability of creative people to just do stuff for a live audience. Superb production and a super play. You could argue the politics of the thing – land always ends up in the hands of the powerful, whether the power is the pike and the claymore, or the swiss bank account. But I was cheering along with the audience most of the time. Let’s press Alba for a rescheduling of this – I’ll watch it again!!!

  • Linda Ferris

    I had never heard of this and caught it on TV by chance. It was brilliant. I wish it was on dvd or even available on iplayer. I know many people who missed it but would love the chance to see it. I, too, would watch this again.