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PHOTO SCRAPBOOK (Rovers Scotland)

PHOTO SCRAPBOOK # 215.

                THE IRISH ROVERS AND THE CBC VANCOUVER TV CREW IN SCOTLAND (Twice!)

                                                                         by Ray Waines

In 1973, our first trip to Scotland followed immediately after we finished taping shows with the Irish Rovers in England. I was looking forward to heading north to Scotland with our crew consisting of Ken Gibson (producer/director), Andy Martens (technical producer), Patsy MacDonald (script assistant), Jim O'Brien (lighting director), John Crawford (audio), Carl Pedersen (video), Bill Reimer (maintenance & VTR), and me, Ray Waines.(camera). We only had one camera.

The Irish Rovers were Will Millar, Jimmy Ferguson, George Millar, Joe Millar, Wilcil McDowell, plus Bob Silk (location manager) and Les Weinstein (manager) who looked after our accommodation so well.

1. It was exciting to board the train in England, knowing that we would wake up in Scotland. Once we got the vans off the train, we drove the short distance to where the Battle of Culloden was fought back in 1746. We got everything going and were ready to video tape the Irish Rovers. This very old house with its thatched roof is the only remaining ruin since that famous battle. I can’t remember the need ever for Patsy to use a bull horn to cue the Rovers!  But they were after all a long distance from us.

2. The Irish Rovers are walking across what is called the Culloden moor, singing a song about the Battle of Culloden between the English royalists and the Scottish Jacobites.

3. Bill Reimer surprised me when he suggested that he should take a look at my small viewfinder. He knew that I had serious problems because the cropping was so bad. If my shot showed all 5 of the Rovers, I could only see the middle 3!! I was continually asking Carl if my shot was in focus. Was Fernseh’s viewfinder that soft? Once Bill had the cover off, we knew what the problem was. Fernseh had used a very small TV with a channel selector! So there wasn’t anything that Bill could do to help me and I would have to continually ask Carl if my framing was OK and in focus!

4. Ray is preparing to shoot Will's introduction which he is discussing with Ken by the obelisk.

5. Will is recalling the true story about the Campbells’ soldiers secretly under orders from King William 111 to murder that night their hosts, the MacDonalds.

6. The Rovers sang the ballad near the base of the Glencoe Massacre Monument, an obelisk with a plaque dedicated to the MacDonald Clan Chief, on the edge of Glencoe Village. The lyrics and music were written in 1963 by Jim McLean.

7. George sang:
“They came from Fort William With murder in mind
The Campbells had orders King William had signed
Put all to the sword These words underlined
And leave none alive called MacDonald.

8. Up here in the Highlands of Scotland, I got goose bumps as these bagpipers passed me! Truly a special moment compared to hearing them back in Canada when we only hear them at special occasions.

9. Jim O’Brien is checking the sun’s angle in preparation for Jimmy’s monologue.

10. This glorious Glenfinnan Monument erected in 1815 on the shores of Loch Shiel was a tribute to the Jacobite clansmen who in 1745 died fighting for their cause and for “Bonnie Prince Charlie,” Prince Charles Edward Stuart. The English troops had driven them north to Culloden where they were defeated in that famous battle that destroyed the fierce fighting Jacobites and their last chance for Scotland’s independence from England.

A piper came by and was waiting to perform for us while Bill Reimer worked on a problem with my camera. Eventually Bill told us that the red channel was not working and that a pre-amp board had to be replaced but we had no spare parts kit with us. We heard that it would have cost $10,000 and so it was not ordered. Andy Martens first tried the BBC which was building a 2 camera cruiser with Fernseh cameras but they could not help us. Finally Andy phoned Fernseh in Germany and asked them to ship to us a board for the red channel and then Andy and Bill drove the van down to Glasgow waiting for the board to arrive. When Andy finally received the new pre-amp board, he gave it to Bill, but by now the local kids were giving Bill a bad time. He had parked the camera van in the alley by his hotel. The kids had tried to get in the van but settled for breaking the windshield wipers.

A policeman on horseback patrolling the area was asked by Bill to help guard the camera van while he did the maintenance on the camera. Meanwhile Jim O’Brien and I took time off to look around Edinburgh. We were all relieved to see Bill and Andy when they arrived to join us.

11. This bus worked out well taking the Irish Rovers through the highlands of Scotland. The bus driver had some interesting stories about keeping a watch out for the Flying Scot racing driver Jackie Stewart speeding along the narrow roads through the highlands, and then he had a story about driving Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones when they first started touring. They got carried away with a party on one trip when someone fired a bullet through the roof!!

Our travels with the Irish Rovers through Scotland has been incredible and we were all hoping that we could come back some day to explore the rest of Scotland.  Yes, there had been some challenges, but we were going home with Irish Rovers shows that we could be proud of, thanks to the combination of a great crew, terrific performers and spectacular Scottish locations.

Time to turn the clock ahead 2 years to 1975 and we are going back to Scotland! 
At Prestwick we had set up our 3 vans, and the new members to our crew were Stephanie Nolan (wardrobe), Jerry Williamson (video) and Joe Cranswick (maintenance).

Our crew consisted of Ken Gibson (producer/ director), Andy Martens (Technical Producer), Patsy MacDonald (Script assistant), Les Erskine (lighting director), John Crawford (audio), Bill Reimer (VTR, maintenance), Gene Baedek (camera) and me, Ray Waines (camera).

And then there were the Irish Rovers: Will Millar, brother George Millar, cousin Joe Millar, Jimmy Ferguson, Wilcil McDowell, plus Bob Silk (location manager) and Les Weinstein (manager) who once again looked after our accommodations.

12. We are setting up for a song and the palace in the background belonged to novellist Sir Walter Scott, built in 1824 and called Abbotsford.  The name came from when he first built a villa close by where the Abbots used to ford the nearby river. It’s now one of Scotland’s national treasures and a popular tourist destination.

13. That's Joe preparing for a song in the gardens at Abbotsford on the River Tweed.

14. The Rovers' guest popular Scottish folk singer Isla St. Claire chose to sing "Bonnie Mary of Argyle."  Hearing her sing was a great way to start our journey through Scotland.

15. Isla joined the Irish Rovers for another traditional ballad, “Will Ye Go Lassie Go.”

16. Jimmy’s solo up in the highlands. That’s Joe, Patsy & Bill. Stephanie is taking a photo for continuity and John has his trusty Nagra recorder ready to play back the music for Jimmy.

17. Joe’s voice was perfect, especially for ballads, and he was also great on the tin whistle

18. Bill and Joe are doing maintenance on Gene’s camera.  It looks serious but it wasn’t, just a routine adjustment.

19. We’ve seen the Rovers sitting, standing and walking in songs, but here’s something different. They’re cycling and singing through the heather moors while having fun!

                         “Up among the heather at the hill a' Benachee
                           Rolling with a wee girl underneath the tree
                           A bungbee stung me well above the knee
                           Up among the heather at the hill a' Benachee!"

20. Bill, Andy, Joe , Jerry & Ray.  Arriving at any location, we determined where to place cameras depending largely on the positioning of the sun.

21. We were at the Cowal Highland Gathering in Dunoon which are the largest games in Scotland. Having two cameras on this trip was a nice luxury for Ken. Interviews could be recorded with no cut-aways later and, with one camera wide and the other tighter, this was a big help in editing the camera shots and continuity.

22. Now the Rovers are really up among the heather and I am sure that Gene has never seen so much heather.  While we were staying at an old hotel in Fort William, our crew can remember that hotel had a neon sign To the Restaurant with an arrow on each side pointing in opposite directions!!  Anyway, one evening after a pint or four, a little fun started with balloons filled with water!  I remember being shocked to see Jimmy and George in rain gear holding their water filled ammunition!  Of course there was some retaliation, but that was all in fun!

23. With Stirling Castle behind us, Ken and I are deciding where the Irish Rovers will perform. As you can see, Will and the crew are having a well deserved break.

24. I think that it was Jerry Williamson who bet Joe that he couldn’t catch a sheep. Joe took on the challenge and we all had a good laugh while we applauded him.

25. The crew and Rovers set up for a song at Blair Castle. In 1844 Queen Victoria and Prince Albert visited and stayed at the Castle. It was after this she gave permission to establish the Atholl Highlanders, the private army of the Duke of Atholl, noted as the only legal private army in Europe.

26. Site of the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314 where the King of Scots Robert the Bruce defeated the English army. That’s the Scottish hero’s bronze statue close by Stirling Castle.

27. During a break in shooting, Jimmy played with his frisbee outside Linlithgow Palace where Mary, Queen of Scots was born. The last royal Stuart to stay here was Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1745.

28. Gene, Ken, Patsy and Stephanie with Linlithgow Palace bg

29. This is Edinburgh. I can’t imagine just how loud the sounds were for Gene, as all these Scottish pipers and drummers marched inches past him!  While he suffered as the vibrations went right through him, everyone else was enjoying his fantastic shots of the impressive daytime Edinburgh Tattoo parade.

30. We are going to finish off our tour of Scotland in style, by taking in that evening the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. The pageantry was spectacular!  We had never seen so many pipers at an event like this before.  And a highlight was to see one lone piper away up high in the castle, playing a stirring Scottish lament on his pipes.  Easy to see why the Scots call this the greatest show on earth! 

 31. I was really surprised to see the Beefeater Band from Vancouver at this Tattoo!  They looked and sounded great, just like the many times they entertained us performing for many years at the BC Lions football games. They must have been thrilled and honoured when asked to perform  throughout the summer at the Tattoo. 

While we were setting up our gear ready to record, a BBC cameraman came up to me and  wanted to know more about our setup and where we were from.  I gave him a tour and he was impressed.  He told me he wished the BBC would do productions on location like we were doing. That made me feel pretty good. We were coming back home with content for several Irish Rovers' shows that we could be proud of, with special thanks to a great crew.

 32. While we were packing up all our gear to fly it home, we returned to stay briefly at the Turnberry Hotel.  Patsy, Stephanie, Gene and Les Erskine had to fly back on their return flight before us. None of us wanted to return to this exclusive resort, as the first problem we had was going to dinner the first evening, Ken had gone down before us and came back saying that we  all had to wear ties!  It did not take long for Jerry to round up some gaffer tape and sash cord to make some very fashionable ties!  It was priceless to see the look on the Maitre d’s face as Ken pompousely requested "a table for 6 gentlemen." That was the last time we were asked to wear ties!

          This trip to Scotland was our last one with the Irish Rovers and what a great experience it was for all of us to travel through the UK!  It was a chance in a lifetime to work with the best crew and to be treated like family by the Rovers.  This all helped us get through the many challenges in producing a large number of shows for the Irish Rovers series shown across Canada on the CBC Network.

Ray Waines

Posted 16 April 2018

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1. Patsy & Ray at Culloden ruins.

1. Patsy & Ray at Culloden ruins.

2. Rovers sing on Culloden's battlefield

2. Rovers sing on Culloden's battlefield

3. Ray's was the only camera on 1st trip.

3. Ray's was the only camera on 1st trip.


4. Ray with Will & Ken at obelisk monument.

4. Ray with Will & Ken at obelisk monument.

5. Will narrates the story of the Glencoe massacre

5. Will narrates the story of the Glencoe massacre

6. Wilcil, Will, Joe, George, Jimmy in the Highlands.

6. Wilcil, Will, Joe, George, Jimmy in the Highlands.


7. George singing "The Massacre of Glencoe."

7. George singing "The Massacre of Glencoe."

8. Bagpipers in the Scottish Highlands!  Eerie!

8. Bagpipers in the Scottish Highlands! Eerie!

9. Jim OBrien at the Glenfinnan Moument with a lone kilted piper on top.

9. Jim OBrien at the Glenfinnan Moument with a lone kilted piper on top.


10. Jimmy narrates the story of the Jacobites historical last stand and defeat of Bonnie Prince Charlie.

10. Jimmy narrates the story of the Jacobites historical last stand and defeat of Bonnie Prince Charlie.

11. Bob Silk,  ?, Will Millar, Andy Martens, Jim OBrien hidden behind Andy

11. Bob Silk, ?, Will Millar, Andy Martens, Jim OBrien hidden behind Andy

12. Les Erskine, Rovers Wilcil, Will, Jimmy, Joe, George at Sir Walter Scott's home in Abbotsford

12. Les Erskine, Rovers Wilcil, Will, Jimmy, Joe, George at Sir Walter Scott's home in Abbotsford


13. Joe in Sir Walter Scott's beautiful gardens in Abbotsford

13. Joe in Sir Walter Scott's beautiful gardens in Abbotsford

14. Scotland's popular Isla St Clair.

14. Scotland's popular Isla St Clair.

15. Wilcil, Jimmy, George, Will, Isla & Joe sing Will Ye Go Lassie Go.

15. Wilcil, Jimmy, George, Will, Isla & Joe sing Will Ye Go Lassie Go.


16 Jimmy, Joe, Patsy, Bill, Stephanie & John.

16 Jimmy, Joe, Patsy, Bill, Stephanie & John.

17. Joe Millar & his flute

17. Joe Millar & his flute

18. Bill, Joe, Gene

18. Bill, Joe, Gene


19. Rovers biking through the heather moors!

19. Rovers biking through the heather moors!

20. Bill, Ken, Joe, Jerry, Ray survey location.

20. Bill, Ken, Joe, Jerry, Ray survey location.

21. Taping at the massive Cowal Highland Gathering.

21. Taping at the massive Cowal Highland Gathering.


22. Gene & the Rovers in the bloomin' heather.

22. Gene & the Rovers in the bloomin' heather.

23. Ken & Ray plaaning shot with Stirling Castle bg.

23. Ken & Ray plaaning shot with Stirling Castle bg.

24.Joe's feeling sheepish!

24.Joe's feeling sheepish!


25. Rovers & crew prepare to tape at Blair Castle.

25. Rovers & crew prepare to tape at Blair Castle.

26. At Stirling George, Patsy, Ken, Jimmy with statue of Robert the Bruce bg

26. At Stirling George, Patsy, Ken, Jimmy with statue of Robert the Bruce bg

27. Jimmy relaxing with a frisbee.

27. Jimmy relaxing with a frisbee.


28. Gene, Ken, Patsy, & Stephanie with Linlithgow Palace bg.

28. Gene, Ken, Patsy, & Stephanie with Linlithgow Palace bg.

29. Gene's shot of the pipers

29. Gene's shot of the pipers

30. Edinburgh Tattoo Festival

30. Edinburgh Tattoo Festival


31. Vancouver's Beefeater Band

31. Vancouver's Beefeater Band

32. Joe, Jerry, Bill, Ken, Ray, Andy in Turnbury, Scotland

32. Joe, Jerry, Bill, Ken, Ray, Andy in Turnbury, Scotland