YOUR excellent history feature writer Hamish MacPherson, who has written so informatively about the Act of Union in 1707, would have been greatly amused if he had heard an item on the John Beattie Show on Radio Scotland recently.

The eponymous host was interviewing a fellow BBC alumna who presents “history-lite” programmes on television, often dressed up in big frocks (she shall remain anonymous). They were discussing the recently released film starring Olivia Colman about Queen Anne, who sat on the throne at the time of the political union between Scotland and England.

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John Beattie asked his expert guest several direct questions. Was Queen Anne a Scot? Was she a Stuart? Was she Queen of Scotland? Did any important historical events occur during her reign (1702-14)?

Unable or unwilling to give any direct answers, the interviewee equivocated, prevaricated, refused to even answer and then dropped off the airwaves completely when asked the final question. The interview ended with an embarrassing silence, leaving the listener confused and none the wiser.

Fortunately, some of us have been doing our homework. We know that Anne, though born in England, had Scottish blood through her father, directly descended from James VI and I, and all the Royal Stuart dynasty in Scotland dating back to 1371. Our present queen shares this ancestry.

We know that Anne was both Queen of Scotland and Queen of England, as the Union of Crowns had taken place nearly 100 years previously.

When Great Britain came into existence after the political union in 1707, she then became Queen of Great Britain. We also know that during her reign the most important change in Britain’s constitutional history took place with the Act of Union, signed off by her Whig government and her own royal hand, marking the dissolution of the Scottish Parliament and its incorporation into that of England. Our own “parcel of rogues” also played their part.

All in all, the lamentable degree of ignorance displayed during the BBC Scotland interview was perhaps symptomatic of the “dumbing-down” in the radio station of late. There was no one in the studio able to redress or refute the inaccuracies and downright historical untruths which were being peddled as fact.

Perhaps the subject matter was just too politically sensitive to pursue with any real vigour? It is ironic that, at its inception, the BBC’s declared mission was to inform, educate and entertain. Isn’t it about time they raised their game? Some day soon their very survival may depend on it.

Joan S Laverie

THOMAS Inglis’s letter about Mary Slessor (Letters, January 23) rang a bell with me. I was just up the road from him in Kano, Nigeria working in education when he was in Zaria and despite almost 15 years there knew nothing of that great lady.

I found her when I was in a petrol station on Paisley Road West and offered the African chap at the till a Clydesdale Bank note. “Ah” he said, “that is our mother on the back of the money.” What I found out about her was startling and she is truly and unsung Scottish hero.

Insofar as the Kirk does not canonise its saints, could the Catholic Church maybe step in – or would that be a step too far?

Dave McEwan Hill

READ MORE: Letters, January 23

TIM Hopkins’s letter in response to Shona Craven’s excellent article (Why we have so much to learn from ‘old and irrelevant’ women, January 18) was remarkably disingenuous and demonstrated a woeful lack of comprehension of the original piece.

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Ms Craven writes how strong, passionate women – who have dedicated their lives to helping woman fleeing violence or supporting the marginalised – are facing threats and attempts to silence or deplatform them for having the temerity to speak of the oppression women continue to face.

Mr Hopkins might care to note that only this month, a woman and her two children died in a freezing hut in Nepal, smothered by the smoke from a fire she attempted to light to keep them warm. If we cannot name the reason why women are banished in this inhumane fashion, how does Mr Hopkins suggest we fight for them?

READ MORE: Why we have so much to learn from ‘old and irrelevant’ women

Ms Craven is correct, biological sex informs many of the injustices targeted at women – from FGM to control of reproductive rights. What sort of society would seek to remove or restrict our protections?

Mr Hopkins sought to draw analogies to the LGB rights movement. He should note, however, that without a clear definition of sex it will be impossible to defend or define sexuality. He should be wary that, in throwing away women’s protections, he may be turning the clock back on his own.

Susan Smith
ForWomen Scotland