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White Heather Club, The

1 9 5 8 – 1 9 6 8 (UK)

Andy Stewart was the star of the BBC’s The White Heather Club, which commenced in 1958 and was networked three years later, and from 1960 until 1968 it dominated the BBC’s New Year’s Eve television – one Hogmanay edition achieving viewing figures of over ten million.

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The White Heather Club also enjoys the distinction of being one of the first programmes to be recorded on the BBC’s primitive VERA tape system and six episodes still survive.

Stewart, a very talented singer-songwriter who originally trained as an actor, believed that the show celebrated “an enormous heritage of traditional Scottish songs that people had never put on in theatres commercially before – and The White Heather Club used these songs as the backbone of its material. We didn’t sing any Harry Lauder songs, for example.”

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The irony was that Stewart became almost inextricably associated with a kitsch vision of Scotland long after The White Heather Club ceased transmission.

What had started as an entertaining and fairly low-key show recorded against cardboard-looking sets, but not without a degree of real charm, resulted eventually in Stewart’s image becoming the victim of his own fame.

Andy Stewart
The White Heather Dancers