Martin Compston, along with his co-host and friend Phil MacHugh, offer an amazing and fun tour of his beloved homeland from Thursday September 8 on BBC Scotland and Friday September 9 on BBC Two.
Before the series, they discuss how the series came to be –
Tell us how the series was born?
Phil: “Martin and I came up with the idea of doing a documentary, me going back to the Western Isles and taking Martin there. I’m based in Edinburgh but my family is from the Western Isles, Outer Hebrides.
We reached out to David Marshall from Tern, who took the idea for the show and brought it to where it is now. Tern came up with the idea for the series, traveling around Scotland to various areas, and built on that initial idea of going back to a community, learning about an area, meeting some of the local people and learn from them.
And it was also a challenge. There were things we wanted to do in each area – some of them were a bit more adventurous than others, some of them were a bit more suited to Martin than me and vice versa.
Martin: “I was able to visit all these fantastic places in Scotland where I had never been before, although I was a little ashamed that it had taken so long to get there. Doing this with your buddy and meeting all these amazing people is one of the most fun times I’ve ever had at work in my life.
I was quite nervous about that because I’m not a presenter, Phil is, but I think that’s why we bounce off each other really well. It’s something I learned doing the show, that when you’re interviewing people, it’s always nice to have someone next to you, because you can really really listen… we can really engage with people and we come at it from very different points of view. Like Phil says, we have different strengths, but I think that makes for good TV.
Phil: “Martin, you are curious in the life of things and people, so when you ask questions you ask them very well, and you ask what I wouldn’t necessarily ask as a journalist. Over the years, my thing has been the “who, what, why, where and when” of something, but Martin wouldn’t necessarily ask those questions. He was asking for something that was a little more insightful.
Martin: “I understand what you’re saying, I’m only interested in people. I’m just here to chat and I’m probably more intrigued by the day-to-day of their lives, while Phil stays on a professional level, so that mix is still there. And Phil still has that little twinkle in his eye.
Me and Phil are going to try most things too, but stuff like go-karting, coasteering, rock climbing, those are things I’m all over… like shinty, but rapping and cosplaying were all a bit off my comfort zone, and it felt like Phil couldn’t get enough, so that was awesome.”
Phil: “We supported each other no matter the challenge.”
Martin: “Whatever the challenge, someone was ready to take it on.”
So how did you meet?
Martin: “We have been friends for about 20 years. The Scottish creative industries are a very small world, the prizes back – you meet the same people – and we just gravitate towards each other… young, eager and ambitious but always ready to laugh, always the last two at the bar at the end of the night. But at the same time we were talking about do this, why not try that. These conversations just continued. We have naturally become close friends over the past 20 years.
One of the most exciting things for me is that I can’t wait for the public to meet Phil – he’s a force of nature. Phil is so positive about everything, he sees the good in everything. It was great to do the show with him, with his energy and his positivity.”
Phil: “We were both young and current in the world of media television, I was doing Gaelic television and Martin was at the start of his acting career. We were on the same event and party circuit so we gravitated towards each other, two young men of similar ages, both wanting to have a fun night out but we maintained the friendship and we this friendship for a very, very long time. .”
So, what was it like working together on this series?
Martin: “We had so much fun, it was a big laugh. And we were a very tight team, because when you’re on the road, you’re only five or six and you have to really sink in. There were no two-way trailers, it was everyone crammed into the car, gather gear, and then from hotel to hotel.
And we’ve stayed in some interesting places. There was a place in the Western Isles, South Uist, where we were dropped off – they had opened especially for us out of season – and all that was in reception was a Great Dane. There was a dog at reception and every time I pressed the bell to ring it the dog would bark at me.
But really, people were so welcoming to us, everywhere we went. Me and Phil had an idea for a documentary, but thanks to Tern it turned into something much bigger. What was amazing for us and so interesting were the contributors. There’s always been one where you think, I don’t know how it’s gonna go, and it’s always the one that surprised you if it would be Phil running with a sheep’s head mask on Harris or whatever, there were just these real surreal moments.
We stayed in these little hobbit houses in South Uist near Lochboisdale, where there were seals outside and it snowed in April. We filmed around the campfire and Phil and I spent the night there. We sat around the campfire having a drink, just the stars and all, it was lovely.
Phil: “It was a good night. We had such a busy day that it was nice to have some time to think about the idea of us actually doing this series. At that point, we were very operational, so it felt like we were there, we were doing this – and we had such a brilliant team and of course the contributors. They are people who should be celebrated because they are brilliant people in their communities. »
What do you think people will take away from the show?
Phil: “It’s about modern Scotland, modern Scots, we don’t tick the box on tartan and anything that may have been done in the past. What we’re trying to do is show what Scotland is like today.
Martin: “All this stuff, like the whiskey tastings, the shortbread, everything has already been done. We’re not as young as we used to be but I feel like we still have a youthful energy and so we wanted to focus on those different aspects. It was an eye opener to see all these different sides of Scotland. I really want to see more.
Phil: “It’s great that we have all of this on our doorstep. And some of the personalities we met were just phenomenal. Sometimes we bring well-known people back to a community, or others are people we would just like to spotlight. We have what we think are the best contributors we could have for this series, because they had amazing stories to tell – hopefully we made the most of them.”
Can you choose your greatest highlights?
Martin: “Not really. Every day of shooting we would go who was the best, then that was the best and then another day we would go who was the best. We met amazing people – everyone was so welcoming, everywhere we went.
Phil: “It’s very difficult to choose one person over another. The series is essentially about telling the stories of the people we meet, in the different regions we visit, and the communities that make up so much of the culture there.
“There were so many moments it’s really hard to pick just one, but I loved bringing Martin back to my homeland of the Outer Hebrides. I hadn’t been back in years, it was great to go back and it was nice to show him some of my heritage, what I see in my heart as home. It was nice to share those moments with someone I’ve known for a long time. For Martin , being there was lovely.
Martin: “I have a home in Las Vegas but I also still have a home in Scotland, but one of the joys is that I’ve visited a lot of places I’ve never been before. I had never been to the Western Isles and the Hebrides were so spectacular and the dark skies of Galloway were also spectacular.
I just hope viewers enjoy the series. I’m not going too far, but there were some dark times and I just hope we give people a little half hour escape and put a smile on their faces.