A SNAPPY title sequence featuring the faces of ordinary Scots set the theme for BBC Scotland's flagship new show The Nine and led into a set of young, engaged-looking presenters with a fair sprinkling of women amongst half a dozen correspondents, who seem to be a distinct team from the weel-kent faces on Reporting Scotland.

The Nine was lucky to have a genuine breaking news story about Jeremy Corbyn’s apparent conversion to a People's Vote, and the new political correspondent Rajdeep Sandhu did a relaxed and convicing “two-way” on the subject.

Slight format problems began with the Neil Findlay MSP interview on the sofa where both presenters weighed in simultaneously, occasionally interupting each other – that did feel a bit heavy. This kind of “double-headed” presentation is generally reserved for breakfast TV, which is more leisurely and generally turn about. Too often the hosts looked more like anxious parents than relaxed presenters.

The report from Stranraer by new social affairs editor Chris Clements on the rise of opiate use was frank and strong, but the problem of not starting the programme with a new digest meant that 20 minutes in, it had only dealt with two stories. If they aren't the two stories that grab you, it could be an early turn-off.

There is a never-ending set of presenter locations – in the middle of the set, on the sofa, by the sofa and then standing with high glass tables for the first sport section. Maybe I lost focus but there seemed to be three sports bulletins sprinkled across the programme – perhaps a bit manic. Though the idea of bringing Scotland’s two men’s football and rugby national coaches together worked very well, that’s a one-off that can't be repeated every night. It’s great to see a female sports anchor – it would also be great to see women’s and minority sports get coverage.

There were two drugs-related stories – though the second featuring the use of PrEP to contain HIV was very much a good news story. The interview with three “polyamorous friends” apparently having unprotected sex on PrEP was fascinating and quite brave – but I still wasn’t sure how the drug actually works by the end.

That’s the point though. The age of interviewees and presenters suggests I am well outside the demographic.

It was great to see the talented James Cook back from his successful stint in the USA interviewing the new Prime Minister of Iceland (after swimming round to interview holidaying Brits in the Blue Lagoon) and he crossed the Rubicon by asking Katrín Jakobsdóttir about independence. Begorra!

It was an interesting though slightly frenzied start (which should calm down over time) featuring stories that are not recycled press releases and not confined to the Central Belt – all good. I hope the presenters manage to stop talking over one another, sit back and let it all breathe a bit. And I hope the editors realise there has to be more politics in there at a time when the country is facing the biggest crisis since the Second World War. There may be no “fun” take on Brexit and the run-up to a second independence referendum – that doesn’t the new channel’s flagship programme can ignore it.


THE new BBC Scotland channel attracted record digital audiences for its opening night on Sunday.

It claimed five out of the ten most watched programmes in Scotland - for Still Game, two parts of A Night at the Theatre, sketch show Burnistoun Tunes In and Googlebox-style offering The People’s News. Across the evening had an average share of 13%, making it the third most-watched channel in Scotland after BBC One and ITV1.

Still Games achieved the highest-ever ratings for a digital channel in Scotland, attracting almost 700,000 viewers.