Belfast Telegraph

BBC moves to allay fears of Ulster-Scots show axe

By Cate McCurry

A long-running Ulster-Scots radio programme will disappear from our airwaves as it undergoes a revamp, according to BBC NI.

The broadcaster was previously accused of shelving weekly radio show A Kist o Wurds after it failed to appear on its usual Sunday slot earlier this month.

BBC Radio Ulster, however, said it is working to "refresh and develop" it's Ulster-Scots output and it is expected a new series will begin in the summer.

Launched in 2002, and produced by Blackthorn Productions, the popular show features a selection of music, poetry and news in Ulster-Scots and is often presented by Anne Morrison-Smyth and Helen Mark.

Listeners of the show, however contacted the Belfast Telegraph to express their concern that a new programme hadn't aired since February 4.

It comes after BBC NI faced criticism following its proposals to reduce its 'Pipes and Drums' radio programmes.

Ulster Unionist leader Robin Swann called for the BBC to reverse its decision on scheduling the programme for a six-episode series instead of its usual 16.

The MLA for North Antrim said he hoped the Ulster-Scots programme wouldn't have the same fate as the pipes and drums shows.

"A Kist o Wurds has been a staple of Radio Ulster's programming since 2002 and has been a platform for Ulster-Scots language and culture," he said.

"This news comes so soon after the BBC has decided to further reduce its coverage of the local pipe band scene by only scheduling the Radio Ulster 'Pipes and Drums' programme for a six-episode summer series.

"Ulster Scots music and culture is a key component of our rich heritage and the BBC as the national broadcaster should be in the business of reflecting and promoting it."

On the BBC Radio Ulster website, the show is described as Northern Ireland's longest-running Ulster-Scots radio show.

A BBC NI spokeswoman said: "We continue to provide a range of Ulster-Scots output and have been working to refresh and develop BBC programming in this area.

"A new weekly magazine series will begin on BBC Radio Ulster in the early summer.

"More detailed information will be available shortly. In the meantime, listeners will be able to enjoy a mix of new and archive programmes about Ulster-Scots.

"All of this is complemented by specially commissioned television programmes, many of which are also available as part of a newly created collection on the BBC iPlayer."

Belfast Telegraph

Daily News Headlines Newsletter

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox.

From Belfast Telegraph