There’s a new Gaelic drama coming to BBC Alba — Bannan — and with any luck, Sassenachs outside of Scotland will be able to watch it, too.
Bannan, the first original Gaelic drama series commissioned by BBC Alba, the Scottish-language channel in the UK, debuted at the Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF) back in June, and will have its premiere on telly in roughly a week’s time.
Translated into English as The Ties That Bind, Bannan is set on an unnamed island in the Hebrides and follows Màiri MacDonald (Debbie Mackay), a lawyer in Aberdeen who returns home to the island she’d left eight years earlier to attend a family friend’s funeral.
Màiri didn’t just move off the island, but deserted it, along with the claustrophobia, customs, and mentality that are part and parcel of life on the island. With her return, the couple of days she’d planned to spend in the tight-knit community turn into weeks, owing to the bannan — the emotional ties — that bind her to the place and its people. Steeped in love and hate, suffocation and freedom, the bannan forces Màiri to confront unresolved conflicts from her past.
Produced by Christopher Young (The Inbetweeners) and Morag Stewart (The Eagle), and filmed mostly on the Isle of Skye, Bannan depicts life as it is in a 21st-century rural Gaelic community, full of Gaelic expressions, values, and humor.
Said Young following Bannan‘s screening at the EIFF: “It seemed to go down very well. We want to emulate the success of the Scandinavians, although it is nothing like The Killing, Borgen or The Bridge.”
So, now we know what not to expect. But even so, “Canadian TV companies have lodged interest in Bannan,” according to Herald Scotland, so the long-form, or serial, drama could very well show up on telly on this side of the pond.
The three 30-minute pilot episodes of Bannan will screen in Gaelic with English subtitles on BBC Alba on Tuesday, 23 September 2014, at 9 PM local time.
Filming is underway on five of the first series’ 15 episodes. Assuming the pilot fares well with audiences, Young anticipates the first series to arrive on telly around Easter in 2015.