Festive island cheer brought to nation’s living rooms with BBC ALBA

Aline Community Woodland was the stunning setting. Photo: Paul Martin
Aline Community Woodland was the stunning setting. Photo: Paul Martin

Forget woodland creatures being woken up by alarm clocks, this Christmas BBC ALBA have brought Lochs forest to the silver screen.

Aline Community Woodland was the setting for the channels’ stunning two minute long festive promo which aired for the first time at the weekend.

With the Harris hills in the background a hardy crew set out earlier this year to bring some island festive spirit into living rooms across the nation.

The original plan for the festive promo, which will be aired between programmes on the channel every night in the run-up to Christmas, was for a 30 second message.

But it soon became clear, despite a smaller budget, the footage could rival other Christmas adverts.

The centre piece of the promo is a Christmas tree in the middle of the community woodland. Finding the perfect spruce and decorating it in the wild would be a challenge at the best of times, never mind while filming it for a TV production.

“There was a sense of community about the whole thing,” explained Ishbel Maclennan, BBC Executive Producer. “It was a lovely thing to work on and celebrate our own landscape.”

Despite the bitterly cold weather and boggy ground underfoot everyone was keen to see the project become a success.

“The deer were rutting at the same time,” laughed Ishbel, “you could hear these big noises coming out of the forest. But it was great fun.”

Sandra Kennedy, a local freelance artist, designed and made all the decorations and perfectly captured the natural feeling the team had envisaged.

Meanwhile local electrician Norman Ferguson, of no doubt had an interesting day at work helping the team bring festive cheer to the remote corner of the island woodland.

Angus Mackay from Corran Media was the director, and was joined by Jim Hope – director of photography and Paul Martin, as the second camera man.

And a few familiar faces from the MG ALBA team can also be spotted cracking open the mulled wine, trekking into the woodland and getting into the Christmas spirit.

MG ALBA producer, Fiona Mackenzie, commented: “The John Lewis one is two minutes long as well - but I think our one is just as nice.”