Take the High Road
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|Take the High Road|
|Created by||Don Houghton|
|Country of origin||Scotland|
|No. of episodes||1,517 (+3 specials)|
|Running time||30 minutes|
(1× 45 min Hogmanay special; 2× 60 min Millennium special)
|Production company(s)||Scottish Television|
|Original network||STV / ITV|
|Picture format||576i (4:3 SDTV)|
|Original release||19 February 1980 –|
27 April 2003
Take the High Road (renamed High Road from 1994 to 2003) was a Scottish soap opera produced by Scottish Television, which started in February 1980 as an ITV daytime soap opera, and was broadcast until 2003.
The series was dropped by most ITV stations in the 1990s, although Scottish Television, Grampian Television, Border Television and Ulster Television continued to screen the programme until the last episode. The programme has developed a cult following.
ITV wished to have a Scottish soap for its daytime line up. At the time the only soap made by STV was Garnock Way, which ITV companies in the rest of the United Kingdom had no interest in, as they wished to have a soap, in their words, “with Scotch Lochs, Hills and purple heather”, a more tartan feel to the show. In late 1979, (partly because of an ITV strike at the time) Garnock Way was axed and production started on a new soap.
The original name for the fictitious estate and village was Glendhu; this resulted in some debate over the name of the series:
- The Glendhu Factor — was dropped as some viewers in other ITV markets may have found it difficult, resulting in the fictitious village's being renamed Glendarroch
- High Road - Low Road — also dropped, as it sounded like a take-away shop
After much debate it was decided that the series would be called Take the High Road.
Links to Garnock Way
Take the High Road was introduced as a replacement for Garnock Way, which contained very similar characters and actors to the original characters of Take the High Road. Some viewers were rather displeased about Garnock Way being axed; to help defuse some of the anger, Todd the garage mechanic, played by Bill Henderson, would suffer a nervous breakdown, and would move north to set up business on his own to help resolve his alcohol problems.
Because of shortage of time and the wish to keep most of the existing actors, it did not follow this plan. The appointed producer Clarke Tait decided to have a scenario where Bill Henderson's character, Todd, had his named changed to Ken Calder who happened to be a garage mechanic with a drink problem.
Production and changes
Many of the early scripts were written by Michael Elder, who also made guest appearances in the show. Books by the same name as the show were also produced by him. Until 1986, the series only broadcast 40 weeks of the year, with a break usually from January to the spring.
During the course of its existence, Take the High Road went through a few major changes and face lifts. Perhaps the most noticeable was the renovation of Blair's store: everything was kept behind the cashier's desk as was once common practice; and shortly after Brian Blair was released from prison it was transformed into a walk-around store. There were a few themes in Take the High Road, in line with Scottish culture, namely the idea of Elizabeth Cunningham the rich lady laird who owned the village and neighbouring farms, and the theme of Protestant religion which was always present. Modernity was coming, and the way of thinking of the first lairds was completely different from that of the final ones.
Around 1990, the series was revamped in a bid to attract a younger audience, which resulted in some outcry about the changes and a belief that new sets had taken away the authenticity of a Scottish village. But within six months the changes were hailed as a success and enabled stronger story lines, and the introduction of five new male characters. Toward the end of the show's life, it tackled much harder social issues, such as lesbianism, and drug abuse, which were new to Scottish Television, although not new to the ITV network.
During its run, Take the High Road was always one of the highest-rated television programmes in Scotland, and had an extremely loyal following throughout the rest of the UK. Indeed, when the series was cancelled by the ITV Network, so many protests were received from viewers in England that some ITV regions reinstated the programme.
Starting from 22 July 1994, the series' name was changed to just High Road, until it was cancelled in April 2003.
Take the High Road was the only soap for the ITV network which was not made by the "Big Five" companies. This helped to give Scotland a place on the network and also provide sufficient revenue to help STV to produce more programmes for ITV and Channel 4.
Cast and characters
Date are for Scottish Television, which on occasions were ahead of the network daytime showing.
- Series 1: 19 February – 28 May 1980: 30 episodes
- Series 2: 14 October – 7 January 1981: 24 episodes
- Series 3: 7 April – 2 July 1981: 26 episodes 
- Series 4: 6 October 1981  - 18 March 1982: 50 episodes
- Series 5: 24 August – 16 December 1982: 30 episodes
- Series 6: 7 August 1983 – 20 March 1984: 88 episodes
- Series 7: 4 September 1984  - 7 February 1985: 44 episodes
- Series 8: 14 May 1985  - 3 October 1985: 44 episodes
- Series 9: 18 March 1986 - from this point onward the series began broadcasting all year round.
Take the High Road was broadcast by all ITV companies when it started in 1980. Nearly all regions broadcast Take the High Road during the daytime, except for Scottish Television who broadcast the soap in the early evenings around 7.00pm, instead of Emmerdale. From 1984 Border Television, from autumn 1987 Grampian Television moved the series to a peak-time slot.
Dropped by the ITV network
During 1993, the new ITV network centre was reviewing all long-standing series made by ITV companies, the issues of the series being dropped becoming even more apparent as the regions south of the border were months behind in their transmissions in Scotland. On 2 June 1993, Marcus Plantin, ITV's network director, announced the termination of Take The High Road from September 1993, as 'ITV's statisticians believed English audiences have had enough'  This resulted in public protest, as many believed that without ITV companies south of the border, the series had no chance. The issue was raised in parliament under early day motions, and the Daily Record newspaper held a protest as well.
By the end of June, Scottish Television decided to continue producing the series mainly for the Scottish market, but within a month, nearly all the ITV companies reinstated it after viewers complained about the show being dropped in the first place. Only two companies refused to reinstate the series: Tyne Tees Television and Yorkshire Television (although both finally brought the series back in 1996).
By January 1998, all Granada and UNM owned ITV companies had stopped broadcasting the series. The rest carried on with the series until:
- Carlton Television until December 1998
- Central and Westcountry until Friday 24 May 2002.
- Border Television who completed the series in 2003.
- UTV who completed the series in 2004.
Take the High Road was broadcast in a number of countries around the world, including, Canada, United States, New Zealand. In Australia, it was broadcast on ABC1, In Ireland, the series was broadcast during the daytime five days a week from the beginning on RTÉ One. As episodes caught up with the UK transmissions, the number of episodes broadcast per week was reduced.
Take the High Road was repeated on Sky Soap; the episodes shown in early 1997 were from the beginning, and 1989 episodes were being shown when the channel ended in April 1999. Early episodes from about 1994–95 were shown on Sky Scottish in 1997/98.
Take the High Road was repeated briefly on Life One from February 2008. The channel started showing from episode 1000 from 1992. The channel ceased broadcasting six weeks later, after showing only four episodes.
In the autumn of 2010, nearly every episode (except for 23) were added to YouTube by Scottish Television, making the series accessible to viewers across the world. The series was taken down from YouTube when the series repeated on STV Glasgow. From 3 June 2014, a new TV station from STV - and on STV Edinburgh, since its launch in January 2015.
Take the High Road was then repeated on the new channel from STV called STV2. It aired on a Saturday morning between 9am and 11am until June 2018, after which the STV2 channel closed down. STV have continued to make the series available online via the STV Player, from the same point where STV2 left off. 5 episodes are uploaded every week from 8 July 2018 on Sundays.
Take the High Road was sponsored by Brooke Bond Scottish Blend tea from the beginning of 1992 until 1995 or 1996. Mothers Pride also sponsored the series, from August 1999 to September 2001 on Scottish and Grampian TV. The sponsorship credits revealed the adventures of one man and his dog, Doug, as they searched for the village of Glendarroch.
These books were all written by Michael Elder, except for Summers Gloaming, which was written by Don Houghton.
- Summer's Gloaming (November 1982)
- Danger in the Glen (January 1984)
- Mist on the Moorland (1985)
- The Man From France (1986)
- The Last of the Lairds (May 1987)
- 10 Years of Take the High Road (1990)
There were four versions of the theme tune over the 23-year run. The first version was performed by Silly Wizard and was used until 1982. This version was quite "Scottish folk band" in style and pretty lively. Instruments featured included the accordion, banjo, drum kit, and synthesiser. The music for the closing credits featured a drum roll introduction.
The "Silly Wizard" theme tune was replaced by an orchestral version in 1982. This orchestral version was used from 1982 until episode 336 in 1986. Instruments featured included the oboe, clarinet, violin, and drum kit. While this version was in use, the music for the break strings tended to vary from episode to episode. Like the Silly Wizard version, the music for the closing credits also featured a drum roll introduction.
The third version was a different orchestral arrangement and was used from episode 337 in 1986 until episode 727 at the beginning of 1990. This new orchestral version was more violin led than the former, which had made more use of wind instruments, and featured no percussion.
From episode 728 in 1990, the fourth, rock-style, version made its debut and continued to be used until the end of the series. This version was electric guitar led (played by session guitarist Duncan Finlay) and featured percussion during the "middle" section. From 1994 when the programme name was shortened to High Road, the length of the closing credits was cut, so the closing theme was faded in just before the middle eight. The theme tune was written by composer Arthur Blake, who was STV's Musical Director at the time.
Another version was released on record in 1980 and was also performed by Silly Wizard.
Take the High Road became available for the first time ever when distribution company Go Entertain commenced releasing the series in 2012 on DVD which proved somewhat unpopular with fans due to the fact each volume, which contain six episodes each, had been released in a 2-disc set (three episodes on each); considering that episodes run at about 22 minutes and with no special features, it was seen as unnecessary and overpriced.
Rights to the series were later acquired by Alba Home Entertainment in 2013, with sets released in the same format, with the exception of each set now available with one disc.
The series ceased releasing in 2014 after 16 volumes and 96 episodes, possibly due to poor sales. It is currently unknown if any future sets will become available.
In an unusual occurrence, the series was not rated by the BBFC for home video release, which is normally the case for all television series and films. It received an 'E' (Exempt from classification) rating, an unofficial rating only applied to documentaries or sports events released on home video.
|Title||Year||Episodes||No. of discs||Release date (Region 2)||Ref|
|Volume 1||1980||1–6||2||1 October 2012|||
|Volume 2||1980||7–12||2||24 October 2012|||
|Volume 3||1980||13–18||2||12 November 2012|||
|Volume 4||1980||19–24||2||4 March 2013|||
|Volume 5||1980||25–30||2||25 March 2013|||
|Volume 6||1981||31–36||1||27 May 2013|||
|Volume 7||1981||37–42||1||24 June 2013|||
|Volume 8||1981||43–48||1||9 September 2013|||
|Volume 9||1981||49–54||1||21 October 2013|||
|Volume 10||1981||55–60||1||20 January 2014|||
|Volume 11||1981||61–66||1||14 April 2014|||
|Volume 12||1981||67–72||1||14 April 2014|||
|Volume 13||1981||73–78||1||14 July 2014|||
|Volume 14||1981||79–84||1||14 July 2014|||
|Volumes 1–10: Collector's Edition||1980–81||1–60||15||13 October 2014|||
|Volume 15||1981||85–90||1||27 October 2014|||
|Volume 16||1981||91–96||1||27 October 2014|||
- "Take The High Road". YouTube. Retrieved 4 May 2012.
- Andrew Galloway (15 February 2013). "Luss-based soap Take the High Road was axed 10 years ago". Lennox Herald. Retrieved 17 June 2013.
- Haldane Duncan. "Part 04: The Glendhu Factor". Transdiffusion.org. Archived from the original on 2 March 2012. Retrieved 4 May 2012.
- The Glasgow Herald, 24 December 1987, p11
- "High Road revamp 'a risk'". The Herald. 5 March 1990. Retrieved 4 May 2012.
- "Ten years on, the High Road is on a high". The Herald.[dead link]
- The Glasgow Herald - 7 April 1981 P28.
- "Evening Times - Google News Archive Search". news.google.com.
- "Evening Times - Google News Archive Search". news.google.com.
- "The Glasgow Herald - Google News Archive Search". news.google.com.
- Andrew Young (5 May 1993). "High Road's future rests on network decision". The Herald. Retrieved 4 May 2012.
- Andrew Young (3 June 1993). "ITV network cuts off the Scottish High Road". The Herald. Retrieved 4 May 2012.
- James Cusick (16 June 1993). "Fans of doomed soap take high road to protest rally: Viewers are fighting to save a Scottish television series". The Independent. Retrieved 4 May 2012.
- "Future of Take the High Road series (EDM2107)". Edms.org.uk. 7 June 1993. Retrieved 4 May 2012.
- Cameron Simpson (17 June 1993). "Scots will still take the High Road". The Herald. Retrieved 4 May 2012.
- "Taking the high road all over Britain". The Herald. 5 October 1993. Retrieved 4 May 2012.
- "Take the High Road - Volume 1 Episodes 1-6 [DVD]". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 18 December 2016.
- "Take the High Road - Volume 2 Episodes 7-12[DVD]". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 18 December 2016.
- "Take The High Road - Volume 3 Episodes 13-18 [DVD]". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 18 December 2016.
- "Take The High Road - Volume 4 Episodes 19-24 [DVD]". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 18 December 2016.
- "Take The High Road - Volume 5 Episodes 25-30 [DVD]". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 18 December 2016.
- "Take The High Road: Volume 6 [DVD]". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 18 December 2016.
- "Take The High Road: Volume 7 [DVD]". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 18 December 2016.
- "Take the High Road Volume 8 Eps 43-48 [DVD]". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 18 December 2016.
- "Take the High Road - Volume 9 Episodes 49-54 [DVD]". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 18 December 2016.
- "Take the High Road - Volume 10 Episodes 55-60 [DVD]". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 18 December 2016.
- "Take The High Road - Volume 11 Episodes 61 - 66 [DVD]". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 18 December 2016.
- "Take The High Road - Volume 12 Episodes 67 - 72 [DVD]". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 18 December 2016.
- "Take The High Road Volume 13 - Episodes 73-78 [DVD]". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 18 December 2016.
- "Take The High Road Volume 14 - Episodes 79-84 [DVD]". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 18 December 2016.
- "Take the High Road - Complete Volumes 1-10. Episodes 1-60 Gift Set [DVD]". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 18 December 2016.
- "Take The High Road Volume 15 - Episodes 85-90 [DVD]". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 18 December 2016.
- "Take The High Road Volume 16 - Episodes 91-96 [DVD]". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 18 December 2016.