Budding broadcasters in Dundee have been given tips on how to carve out a career in the media industry. Around 100 people attended sessions led by Channel 4 and My Kinda Future at the Space in Dundee and Angus College's Kingsway Campus yesterday. The event — part of a series of gatherings being held across the UK — was aimed at people who do not have a degree and are looking for their first step into the industry. Participants were given lessons in video production then handed microphones, tablets and other equipment and challenged to create their own short documentary films on the themes of inclusiveness and equality. At the end of the day, 15 of the participants were granted "rising star" status, which means they will be alerted when vacancies arise and taken down to Channel 4 HQ in London for a day. The event was hosted by Channel 4 presenter Jodie McCallum, who got her big break at a similar event. She said: "It gets quite emotional when we see the films because they work hard to make them in quite a short time. The day can have an impact on their lives like it did to mine. "A lot of people think they can't get into the industry but it is not like that any more." The broadcaster's industry talent specialist Laura Boswell and coordinator Yasmin Mehment joined Miriam Kidane, campaign manager for My Kinda Future, to help out on the day. Ms Boswell managed the Rio Production Training Scheme which helped 24 disabled people get their first roles in television production and 18 trainees join the production team that covered the 2016 Paralympic Games for Channel 4. TayScreen, the screen office for Dundee, Angus, Perth and Kinross, and Fife councils, praised the initiative. Julie Craik, TayScreen project manager, said: "It's vitally important for people from the region to get involved with media production and tell not only their own stories but all kinds of stories on all kinds of platforms." Courier Country has produced its share of broadcasting talent, including Oscar-nominated director David Mackenzie, Bafta-winning camera specialist Keith Partridge and BBC diving camera expert Lindsay Brown.
Great-great-granddaughter of “Scotland’s worst poet” travels to Dundee to see play charting his life
The great-great-granddaughter of "Scotland's worst poet" travelled from Spain to see a show about her famous relative. Helen Stewart was at Dundee Rep Theatre on Saturday evening to see the McGonagall Chronicles — a new play charting the life of the city's legendary wordsmith William McGonagall. Her sister Ann Ross, who still lives in the city, was also in the audience for the dramatic re-telling of the life of the man who penned The Tay Bridge Disaster, among 200 other published poems. Helen's son, Steve McMurdo, even arranged for his mother and aunt to meet the cast after the show. https://www.thecourier.co.uk/fp/lifestyle/619254/why-mcgonagalls-chronicles-will-be-remembered-at-dundee-rep-for-a-very-long-time/ "I do like surprises," she said. "It was the first time in my life that I've felt famous. My son organised it without me knowing." Originally from Dundee, Helen moved to Spain six years ago and came home specifically to see the show. She said it was a moving tribute to her famous forefather and his "unique" way with words. "It was fantastic," she added. "It was also quite sad. Especially when he was getting spat on in the street. "As I get older I have become more interested in McGonagall's work. "When I was younger people used to ridicule him and say he's Scotland's worst poet, but I am proud of having him in the family tree. "A lot of people can be quite ignorant about him." Helen's interest in her great great grandfather's life has led her to become a collector of menentos, including an edition of the McGonogall Library Omnibus dating to at least the 1960s. It still has the price label for 17 shillings and sixpence - around 18p in today's money. And the family heritage has led her into some unusual situations. "When I was in labour about to give birth to my son, a doctor walked into the room, looked at my name (before her surname was changed to Stewart) and asked if I was related to the poet," Helen added. "That was a strange thing to happen at that time." She also recalled being pulled up onto a stage in Fife in 1971 and given one line in a play about the poet. The McGonagall Chronicles tells the story of the poet's life written in "almost rhyming verse". Born in Edinburgh in 1825, McGonagall moved to Dundee to be apprenticed as a handloom weaver. Among his most famous works are the Tay Bridge Disaster and the Famous Tay Whale.
A Fife firm convicted after an employee was crushed to death by a lorry will have to wait to learn its fate for breaching health and safety legislation. Workshop assistant Ian Bratchie, 50, died in the accident on September 3 2015, when he was run over by the HGV in the Lochgelly yard of Robert Purvis Plant Hire. The company was found guilty of failing to make suitable and sufficient assessment of the risk of vehicles being driven away while they were under maintenance at its premises in Cartmore Industrial Estate between April 2 2012 and September 4 2015. However, jurors at Dunfermline Sheriff Court delivered a not proven verdict to a second charge — that the firm had failed to ensure the health, safety and welfare of employees. The company was due to be sentenced on Friday but there was a disagreement over the appropriate level of sentencing, with Sheriff Christopher Shead saying he "can not turn a blind eye to the fact that there was a fatality" when advocate Susan Duff said the company's level of culpability was "low". Sentencing was deferred until February 8 to allow time for "both sides of the bar" to agree on a position, the sheriff added.
An Angus man who killed a taxi driver in a high-speed crash eight years ago is facing a return to jail after admitting driving while disqualified and failing to provide a breath sample. Halim Cholmeley, 43, of Broomhill, Glen Prosen, appeared from custody before Sheriff Jillian Martin-Brown at Forfar Sheriff Court on Friday. He admitted driving while disqualified at Medecinewell, Montrose, the access road from Wester Lednathie Farm to Glenuig and various roads in between on March 5. He further admitted failing to submit a sample of his breath when requested. Cholmeley pleaded guilty to the two charges during a brief hearing and sentence was deferred. He was remanded in custody and will appear at Forfar Sheriff Court in connection with the case again next week. Cholmeley was previously jailed for six years in 2010 at the High Court in Edinburgh for killing a Perth taxi driver on Dundee’s Kingsway on March 15 2009. He had been consuming alcohol in the company of his now ex-partner and friends in the afternoon and evening before the fatal collision. Around midnight he returned by taxi to his ex-partner’s flat before going out again to a nightclub. Sometime before 2.30am he returned to the flat and removed the keys to his ex-partner’s BMW without her permission or knowledge and drove off. He then sped down the Kingsway and smashed into a taxi. The impact at the Myrekirk Roundabout spun 41-year-old Gavin McCabe’s cab around and catapulted him out on to the road. Mr McCabe was so seriously injured he died in intensive care at Ninewells Hospital a week later. Investigating officers calculated Cholmeley was travelling at a minimum speed of 77mph shortly before the collision and at around 67mph at the point of impact with the Skoda taxi. Cholmeley’s alcohol level after the collision was 106 mgs against a legal limit of 80 mgs. Several witnesses — civilian, emergency services and medical staff — stated Cholmeley said it had been his intention to commit suicide.
A local MSP has called on the Scottish Government to guarantee that Dundee will be a consideration as stronger trade deals with China are secured. Conservative MSP Bill Bowman has written to Nicola Sturgeon, who toured the Asian country last month to increase trade links, imploring her to not overlook the City of Discovery as fresh opportunities arise. The MSP for North East Scotland said: "There are vast opportunities in China to showcase the unique and market leading products that Scottish companies have to offer. "And no city is better placed to get involved than Dundee. "Its capacity as a natural port, industrial potential and nearby workforce could not be more attractive to investment from China. "I am calling on the First Minister to give the city some hope it won’t just be ‘Central Belt and road’ when it comes to us." Liu Xiaoming, China's ambassador to the UK, recently invited Scottish business to “roll up its sleeves and get down to business” to profit from his country’s transformation from “high-speed” to “high-quality” growth. Mr Bowman added: "Mr Liu outlined China’s advances in areas including trade liberalisation and green energy development. The ‘belt and road’ programme is leading to massive change in the country. "Dundee is attractive for decommissioning right now but there is capacity to develop its renewables servicing portfolio with the likes of the NNG North Sea development nearby." A Scottish Government spokesman said: "We want to increase trade opportunities for all Scottish businesses in China – only last month the First Minister undertook an official visit to Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong, where she repeatedly highlighted the immense opportunities for investment in Dundee. "During her visit the First Minister met with China Ocean Engineering in Shanghai, and was able to confirm their plans to set up a new office in Dundee. "In addition, the University of Dundee and Central South University signed an agreement to broaden their research collaboration in Life Sciences. "The Tay Cities Region Deal will bring investment for the entire region, creating jobs and opportunities helping the area to grow and flourish." The spokesman added that a revised strategy for Scotland's relationship with China will be published "shortly".
Students at Abertay University have turned iconic Scottish designs into digital puzzles. In a collaboration with V&A Dundee, the students created a digital game similar to a Rubik's Cube, but instead of a cub,e Scottish designs are broken into slices for players to reconstruct in as few moves as possible. Designs digitally rendered for the game include the Falkirk Wheel, the Jaguar F-Type, Glasgow designer Christopher Dresser's Teapot, the Orkney Chair and the V&A itself. Under the working title Spinnacle, the game is part of the museum's Time Capsule project. Phil Smy, leader of the six-strong team, said: "Spinnacle seeks to promote Scottish designs and their designers by interacting with 3D models. "Different slices can be rotated and moved, much like a Rubik's Cube, and the game helps the player to think about the form and structure of each of these objects. "We have an animation where the capsule opens and all these slices come out before the player is asked to solve the puzzle – it’s a great educational tool.” The team, under the banner BluePix Games, includes Stewart McCready, Inka Nieminen, Kristen Currie, Lewis Cooper and Nicola Sangster. All are studying a mix of Abertay's Computer Arts, Computer Games Technology, and Games Design and Production Management courses. At the start of the academic year the team, who were strangers at the time, selected V&A Dundee as their client. As part of the game development the students tested the prototype with audiences at the Wellgate Centre during V&A Dundee’s Family Time Capsule workshops in the October 2016 school holidays and then again at Douglas Community Centre tin March. V&A Dundee’s wider Time Capsule project, developed in collaboration with SQA and Jaguar, offered secondary students studying Higher Design and Manufacture in Scotland a chance to design a time capsule which will be a unique feature permanently on display in the grounds of the museum after it opens in 2018.
Horror fans in Dundee are in for a frightfully good time with a season of gory treats at the DCA. The cinema will be screening a series of scary films as part of its eight annual Dundead festival. The line-up, appropriately announced on Friday 13th, is headed by influential slasher film The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. The 1974 classic will be one of a number of films shown in tribute to the director Tobe Hooper, who died last year. Lifeforce, Eaten Alive and the Funhouse will also feature in the programme. Other highlights will include The Endless, My Friend Damher and Vampire Clay. Christopher O'Neill, festival programmer, said: "The festival is now in its eighth year and it's going from strength to strength with yet another exciting line-up of new movies and a fine selection of classics. "With every festival we strive to feature a wide range of films to suit everyone's tastes. We could not let this year's festival pass without paying tribute to one of the most influential filmmakers of the horror genre. "Tobe Hooper passed away last August, which is a tragedy, but he left behind some wonderful movies and we know the Dundead audience are going to enjoy revisiting The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Eaten Alive, The Funhouse and Lifeforce digitally restored, uncensored and on the big screen." The weekend festival opens of May 10 with a film quiz, so teams can put their horror knowledge to the test. The house lights will then be dimmed for a special preview of The Endless, which currently has a 100% fresh rating on the website Rotten Tomatoes, followed by The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. For more family-friendly frights, 1932's The Old Dark House is a comic horror film that established many of the cinematic tropes around big creaky houses on dark, stormy nights, while Jim Henson's The Dark Crystal is a pre-CGI special effect-laden, mystical tale. A Dundead festival pass is available from the DCA box office for £75, which grants entry to all films and the quiz, plus a t-shirt and special edition postcard. A six-film pass is also available for £39, which includes a t-shirt. Tickets go on sale on Friday April 13.
A new school in Dundee opened its doors on Thursday as pupils attended the £27.8 million Baldragon Academy for the first time. The new secondary school in the Kirkton area completes a wider campus including the already-opened £8.1 million replacement for Sidlaw View Primary School and Jessie Porter Nursery. The development was left in limbo for several months in 2015 as the Scottish Government worked out whether the funding should have been classified as private or public by the EU. The issue was sorted before the end of that year and the green light given for the work to recommence. Head teacher Kenny Hearn was joined on the opening day by Dundee City Council children and families service convener councillor Gregor Murray and executive Paul Glancy. The SNP councillor said: "The impressive replacement for Baldragon Academy shows we are investing for the future of our young people through an ambitious building programme. “The new school is providing state of the art facilities to meet the challenges that our pupils will face in the years ahead. “The new Baldragon Academy, along with the nursery and primary schools, is another major enhancement of learning and teaching facilities in Dundee “This educational campus will provide an inspirational learning environment for pupils ranging in age from nursery children to young people preparing to leave school to take up new opportunities.” The project was led by hub East Central Scotland in partnership with Dundee City Council, Scottish Futures Trust and Robertson Tayside. Gary Bushnell, chief executive at hub East Central Scotland, said: "We are proud to have managed the successful delivery of the project from initial design to completion and it's great to see staff and pupils in their new school, which has been built to the highest standards to meet the needs of the community it serves." Kevin Dickson, managing director for Robertson Tayside, said the development makes it one of the best shared campuses in the country. "Building the new Baldragon Academy was a real pleasure for everyone at Robertson and it is fantastic to see the doors open to pupils," he said. "The shared campus is among the best in Scotland and I am sure that the modern facilities will be embraced by everyone at the school. "We take great pride in Baldragon Academy, which is one of a number of schools we have built across Tayside, and wish pupils and staff every success for the future."
Dundee Women's Festival ploughed on despite the weather preventing a key opening speaker from making an appearance. Lesley Riddoch was scheduled to appear for the opening lecture on Sunday but had to cancel due to the arduous weather conditions created by the beast from the east. The talk, titled "Women and Land — Our Secret History", sold out in advance but had to be called off when the journalist was not able to make it across the Tay. That did not stop the organisers kicking off the festival with a more informal 'glass of wine and cake' event. This was then followed by a screening of Angry Inuk, a documentary by Inuit campaigner Alethea Arnaquuq-Baril defending the Inuit seal hunt. Prue Watson, chair of the board, said: "We were disappointed that Lesley couldn't come but that's fair enough. She sent us a picture of her lane and it was absolutely covered in snow. "We put on some cake and wine for the people that made the journey. It gave them a chance to talk about the festival and it seemed to be enjoyed by all. The documentary was very interesting as well. "We are doing our best and we're hoping to keep going. There are some events that are outside and are more difficult to say if they will be affected. We just hope it is going to stop snowing. "We have got quite a good mixture of events so it should be a good fortnight." One of the biggest events yesterday was the '1 in 3 Councillors' talk, which addressed that only a third of councillors in Scotland are female. In Dundee the figure is even lower — one in four. SNP councillors Lynn Short and Anne Rendall discussed their respective journeys into politics, hoping that other women will see it as a possible vocation. Ms Short said ahead of the event: "More than 50% of people in Dundee are women so it's really important that they are better represented. I am a single parent so I think it's really important that every part of society is represented. "It is difficult to be representative if the population isn't represented. There is something not connecting Dundee women to politics. "I think it's important to encourage as many women as we can. It's a really good job and I've enjoyed my time as a councillor." The year's festival is celebrating the 100th anniversary of women getting the vote in the UK. Other events in the programme include V&A Design Champions and Dark Dundee: Witch Hunt, which both take place on Tuesday. Updates on any further disruptions will be posted on the event's Facebook page.
An Angus and Mearns politician is urging all sides of the debate to come together in 2018 to help a bird-of-prey flourish. SNP MSP Mairi Gougeon spoke out after Police Scotland launched a probe when a hen harrier was found dead with “unexplained injuries” near Dunoon in Argyll and Bute. The death of the satellite-tagged bird, named Kathy, is one of a number of high profile cases involving hen harriers this year. One was shot in Leadhills earlier this year, while satellite-tagged raptor Calluna went missing near Braemar, Aberdeenshire, and a four-year court case over the alleged shooting of a hen harrier on Cabrach Estate in Moray was dismissed. A recent survey also showed a decline in the hen harrier population down to just 460 pairs — a drop of 27% since 2004 — with illegal persecution of the bird considered a major factor in its decline. But with 21 of Scotland’s estates signed up for the Heads Up for Harriers project — which reported 37 successfully fledged young hen harriers in 2017 — Mrs Gougeon is keen to bridge the gap between estates and conservationists next year. The Angus North and Mearns MSP said: “I’m under no illusions how contentious this issue is. I know it won’t be resolved overnight but I take my role as a species champion very seriously. “One of the main reasons why the hen harrier population hasn’t flourished is the fact there has been illegal persecution of this species over a long period. “Across Scotland we have the habitat for the species to exist. Almost half of Scotland is capable of supporting a hen harrier population. “There are a number of ongoing projects — including Heads Up for Harriers — geared toward trying to sustain and grow the hen harrier population in the future. “Heads Up for Harriers is not without its critics and may not be the immediate panacea but it is a promising step in the right direction. “More estates need to sign up to that project before we can assess whether or not it is successful. We also need to look at other potential solutions such as diversionary feeding proposed by the Langholm Moor Demonstration Project. “We need to take every available measure to crack down on the serious crime that is committed against raptors and to tackle the illegal persecution that takes place. “Only then we will have a hope of protecting and encouraging growth in the numbers of this magnificent species.”