Dòtaman (Scottish Gaelic for "spinning top") was the longest running Scottish Gaelic children's TV programme for pre-schoolers. It began 17 October 1985 starred Donnie Macleod, formerly of Na h-Oganaich, whose appearances made him a cult figure. Donnie was primarily the singer across the many series of the programme. The programme featured a presenter who carried the bulk of the programme presentation although Donnie shared some of the role, particularly when telling the time at the end of the programme.
The presenters were: Rhoda Macleod (who went on to present among other things, Speaking our Language on STV) Well known presenter Cathy Macdonald, Gaelic singers Mairi Macinnes and Anna Murray also presented the programme. The first series also featured Anne Sinclair as the singer. She didn't wear hats and accompanied herself on the piano.
Donnie wore various different silly hats, which were decorated with something relevant to the song and the programme. One of his most famous[why?] hats had a red telephone on it. Donnie was often seen wearing a default seagull hat when the theme didn't lend itself to be illustrated with a hat. Many of the hats were designed and constructed by costume designer Kirsty Colam.
The programme featured 6 soft toys. Nelson and Napoleon, a pair of parrots who squawked their way through the 'what's the time' sequence at the end. Cagnaidh the dog and Crotal the rabbit were usually involved with the activities at the opening of the programme. Oighrig the hippo and Ealasaid the elephant mainly sat about and listened to stories.
The songs were about things every day to the children watching while the style and structure of the songs were traditionally Gaelic. The songs were written to a pre-determined programme theme by a team of scriptwriters with each writer being responsible for a few programmes across the series. Donnie Macleod set the songs to music and made them his own. Most of the songs related to Gaelic culture or Scottish rural life.
It could be argued that most young Gaelic speakers today learned much of their early vocabulary from the programme. Many young singers and musicians were influenced by the style of the music to write and play in their own tradition.
- Macdonald, Roderick (1996). "Some Present-day Trends in Gaelic Writing in Scotland". Studies in Scottish Literature 29 (1): 85–94.