The White Heather Club
It was an early evening BBC television programme. Until 1957 there was a silent period in BBC TV broadcasting, between 6 pm and 7 pm, called the Toddlers' Truce. When this ended, the BBC was unsure of what type of programme to broadcast. A topical news magazine programme Tonight was broadcast on some days, and The White Heather Club on others. In 1958 the so-called "VERA" was invented. This was the BBC's first videotape recording device. The White Heather Club was recorded, and is therefore one of the earliest TV programmes that can still be viewed today, although only six episodes survive in the BBC archives. It started at 6.20, and Jimmy Shand composed a melody "The Six Twenty Twostep" as the theme tune. This was usually followed by Andy Stewart singing "Come in, come in, it's nice to see you...." The show always ended with Andy Stewart and the cast singing, "Haste ye Back":
Haste ye back, we loue you dearly, call again you're welcome here.
May your days be free from sorrow, and your friends be ever near.
May the paths o'er which you wander, be to you a joy each day.
Haste ye back we loue you dearly, haste ye back on friendship's way.
Robert Wilson was an early presenter of the Club and recorded with them. The show was so successful that in the early '60s there was a company touring Scottish theatres, containing many of the performers. The show was filmed in Glasgow, at that time the only large TV studio in Scotland, and produced by Ian MacFayen.
During the same period (1957–68) a New Year's Eve television programme, also called The White Heather Club, was used to herald in the Hogmanay celebrations. The show contained many of the same performers plus special guests such as Jimmy Logan and Stanley Baxter in comedy sketches. From 1957 to 1963 there was another programme called The Kilt is My Delight, along similar lines. The White Heather Club was produced by Iain MacFadyen.
The performers were Jimmy Shand and his band, Ian Powrie and his band, Robin Hall and Jimmie Macgregor, Scottish country dancers: Dixie Ingram and the Dixie Ingram Dancers, the stars of the show: Heather Hall, Heather Wright, Heather Roberts, and Heather Hobbs, who is known affectionately as "Hobbit". Andy Stewart was the master of ceremonies. He also sang songs and told jokes. All the male dancers, and Andy Stewart, wore kilts, and the women dancers wore long white dresses with tartan sashes. In 1965 Fontana issued an album called The White Heather Club, featuring Hall and McGregor. The duo issued dozens of folk albums, and even had a hit single "Football Crazy" (1960) during the period that show was broadcast. Andy Stewart had several hit singles, and the Corries albums continue to sell well today.
The Penguin TV companion in 2006 voted The White Heather Club one of the 20 worst TV shows ever. Jeremy Paxman cited The White Heather Club as evidence that there was no "Golden Age" of British television at the 2007 Edinburgh International Television Festival's James MacTaggart Memorial Lecture. Although popular in its day, and in some respects competently made, it put forward a tartanised view of Scotland that was becoming very dated by the late 1960s.
- "BBC Scotland". 1958.
- "Robert Wilson and the White Heather Club at the Royal Albert Hall 1958". etradmusic. Retrieved 27 October 2010