Unfortunately, coinciding with dinner the other night was Embarrassing Bodies. Just as I was about to take a mouthful, a young chap in a kilt got on the doctors bed, whipped his kilt up over his backside as the doctor continued to examine, internally I might add, his anus. On television.
A couple of questions…
1. Why is this on the TV?
2. How much have they paid this man to show his face and his a*se on TV?
3. Was the kilt entirely necessary?
I’m Scottish, not that I eat haggis, decorate my house in tartan or sing The Flower of Scotland every two minutes, and I’m proud of where I come from. However, I can fully comprehend why the rest of the UK would think of Scottish people as mental based purely on what they see on TV. You only have to go through the back catalogue of Big Brother contestants to see that the researchers specifically hand picked a good few crazies from north of the border.
For the first 10 years of living in England as a Scottish youngster, I was asked all sorts of ridiculous questions. Some worse than others, but most were clearly influenced by the portrayal of Scottish people on the television. Here are a few examples:
-Do you know Braveheart?
-Are you related to Braveheart?
-Why aren’t you ginger?
-Do you eat Haggis every night?
-What does Haggis taste like?
-Why do you eat haggis?
-Where’s your kilt?
-Do you drink Irn Bru?
-Are people ginger because they drink too much Irn Bru?
-Where’s your bagpipes?
-Does your family live in mud huts like in Braveheart?
Yes, there are still a number of red headed people with a celtic heritage in Scotland. Sadly, Scotland does have the highest rates of premature deaths than anywhere else in the UK, but there is no evidence to suggest that excessive Haggis or Irn Bru consumption are to blame. And, yes there was once a film made about William Wallace, written by an American, directed by an American and starring an American with an extremely dodgy accent.
I came to realise that a concerning number of people genuinely believed that Scottish people lived in huts, covered themselves in war paint and wore nothing but skirts. Now, I’m not saying that English people are stupid, I wouldn’t do that, but I did I spend a large portion of my school years in the south, responding to these foolish enquiries whilst being greeted on a regular basis with ‘FREEDOM!’ If you asked me to tell you the number of times I’ve been asked to repeat ‘There’s been a murder...’ from Taggart, I wouldn’t be able to tell you. I lost count in about 1995.
I’m not saying there is absolutely no basis to the ginger, beer bellied, drunken stereotype of a Scot. I am saying that there are just as many normal people, that do normal healthy, sociable things in Scotland as anywhere else in the country. They live in houses with running water and electricity and even have supermarkets. However, if reality TV is anything to go by, I can see why so many people would beg to differ. Here are just a few that I’ve dug out of the archives that are giving Scottish people a bad name, even if they aren’t ginger, wearing a kilt or Irn Bru addicts:
Shahbaz Chauhdry. Example number 1. He was under the close surveillance of the Big Brother Psychologists during his relatively short stint on the show and even contemplated topping himself while he was in the house.
Sandy Cumming. This guy, instead of going to the bathroom like a normal human being, urinated in a bin then jumped over the Big Brother wall. Lovely.
Sam Brodie. A bi-lingual, pre-op transsexual. He apparently preferred to be seen as female. Although apparently he’s now happily settled down with a baby and decided to be a man after all.
One particularly worrying Big Brother contestant was George Galloway. Mainly because he wasn’t plucked from the depths of anonymity under the pretence of a forthcoming career as a page 3 girl/late night TV host. He was an MP. Not only did he sport a rather fetching lycra onesie, he also pretended to be cat! Click here to watch the video. It’s more than scary…
Despite being a global phenomenon and breaking album sales records, Susan Boyle is another example of a Scottish person who, if we’re honest, just seemed a bit odd. Luckily she pulled it out of the bag with a belting voice – otherwise that could have been another disaster.
I’m convinced that somewhere, behind the scenes in a production office of ITV, Channel 4, BBC… all of them in fact, is someone who has decided that from here on in, no Scottish person can appear on TV unless they are mentally unstable, gender confused, fat, ginger, drunk or Mel Gibson pretending to be Scottish. Perhaps they had their heart broken by a celtic beauty? Maybe haggis gave them a dodgy belly once and they’ve never gotten over it or maybe they just think it’s funny to make out that we’re all weirdos. If the statistics are anything to go by, we’ll all be dead by 55, so maybe they’re targeting the weaker nation and hoping we’re too busy shearing our sheep and drinking whisky to notice.