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Peter May and Janice Hally's proposal for a long-running drama serial set in the Outer Hebrides included not only the characters and storylines for the show but details of the process required to find, recruit and train actors and writers most of whom would have neither professional nor even amateur experience.

The whole concept was greeted with derision and disbelief by the press. But with the backing of Scottish Television, May and Hally went on to organise two years of preparatory work comprising extensive research, auditions, workshops, screen tests, and writing Courses. They found actors and writers from all walks of life and persuaded them to take a diversion for a while and enter the world of television drama.

Machair went on air and the reviews began to come in...

"...a smack in the face to those of us who were doubtful"
"...the best thing to have happened to television in Scotland for a long time."
"Well worth following"
"Most viewers hooked"

The 99 episodes, each storylined by Janice Hally, not only hooked but held an audience which regularly won a 30 per cent audience share, making it into the Top Ten of programmes in Scotland. Broadcast in Gaelic with English subtitles, its success in the ratings was made all the more notable by the fact that less than 2 percent of the population of Scotland can speak Gaelic, and British audiences are notoriously antipathetic to subtitled drama.

Machair went on to win nominations for awards for production and writing from The Celtic Film Festival and Writers Guild of Great Britain.

Machair - the reviews in detail:

"A credit to the company (Scottish Television) and a smack in the face to those of us who were doubtful"
"It is well written, captures the essential atmosphere of the Hebrides."
"The characters are real and recognisable, and they are dealing with real and recognisable themes - land ownership returning exiles youthful impatience with island customs - all of which were deftly interwoven in the first episode"
Kenneth Roy, TV Critic, Scotland on Sunday

"Its writers are the seasoned Peter May and Janice Hally. In these hands, Machair opened with one of life's fundamental rites of passage - a funeral - and moved briskly into conflict. By the end of episode one, love, greed, power and lust - the four horsemen of soap opera - were also edging their way into the script"
Julie Davidson, TV Editor, The Herald

"Telling good tales is the secret of soap in any language"
"The feel is that of a character-driven soap with strong, and involving, storylines"
Tom Lappin, Sunday Times

"After two episodes I want to see more"
"Machair has already hooked me into its characters and stories"
"The characters and their backgrounds have been carefully thought out"
Dorothy Hobson
Writer and Media Research Consultant

"Most viewers hooked after episode one"
Results of viewers' poll, West Highland Free Press

"Well worth following"
TV Review, Sunday Mail

"Glayva this show certainly is, and I'll watch it again"
(Glayva is Gaelic for "very good")
Ian Black, TV Critic, The Herald

"Already the characters are in place, the battle lines drawn and the enigmas hinted at the story is being built up, as ever, layer upon layer"
Anthony Troon, TV Critic, The Scotsman

"I wrote warmly of Machair when it first started. Now I must revise my opinion. It is even better than it looked at first glance quite simply the best thing to have happened to television in Scotland for a long time."
Kenneth Roy, TV Critic, Scotland on Sunday

to find out more about Janice Hally and her work
click on any of the links below...