Tuesday, March 08, 2005

The Gathering Place

I see from the box tonight that the BBC is finally to air "The Gathering Place", Kirsty Wark's documentary about the construction of the Scottish Parliament. Many people believe that Ms Wark refused to release the film to the Fraser Inquiry into the cost overruns on the project as a favour to her customer and close friend, First Minister Jack McConnell.

No doubt all incriminating matter will have been carefully expunged before broadcast. It can be seen on BBC Two Scotland at 9.00pm on Thursday 10 March.

I blogged some time ago about the enormous cost of the film, and asked if this was normal for a film of this type. I don't know if the BBC reads my humble blog (surely not), but they have addressed this very point in their press release about the broadcast dates.

The four programmes have cost BBC Scotland a total of £648,000, which is well within industry norms of up to £200,000 per hour for this kind of long-filming documentary. Scottish Screen have contributed a further £332,000 to the project which gives them an additional 90-minute film for theatrical release.

..which means that it has actually cost the public sector £980,000, a figure which is both staggering and disgusting. And read that again: Scottish Screen has spent £332,000 to get a cinema release. For a film about a construction project.

Don't believe a word of it.

Update: More here. If the final cost was three times over budget, it's hard for the BBC's claim that £200,000 per hour is normal to stand up in court. Still, you don't go to the BBC for the truth.