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  • Alistair Braidwood

Back to the Old School…

The Glasgow Boys was presented by ex-Glasgow School of Art alumni Muriel Gray. Muriel is a woman who splits opinion in not so much a love/hate divide, more a like/hate divide. Despite disagreeing with a lot of the stuff she writes in The Sunday Herald I’m very fond of Muriel. This is down to her sterling work on The Tube, where she was a refreshing counterpoint to Paula Yates woman-child act, and a long forgotten programme called Walkie-Talkie, which was so simple in its premise (well known Scots such as John Byrne walked their favourite walks while talking to Muriel) that it was genius. I also have a soft spot for her Munro bagging series The Munro Show.

The Glasgow Boys was another example of her excellent and always informed presenting style, and it did make make me wonder why she isn’t on our screens more often. But then I repeat, I like her. I have been told by those who don’t that they find watching her like the equivalent of chewing cotton wool. The programme itself gave an excellent insight into ‘The Boys’ and their work. Concentrating on John Lavery, Edward Hornell, George Henry, Edward Walton and James Guthrie as well as their ‘mentor’ WY Macgregor, they were portrayed as a romantic bunch who genuinely helped each other to improve their work. As someone who only knew the paintings it was fascinating to learn of the stories that lay behind them, and Gray was informative and unassuming as she guided us through the lads and the landscape.

If you can access iplayer then you’ll find The Glasgow Boys here for at least the next week. If not I can only try and make amends by including this clip of the lovely Muriel at work half way up a mountain, and which also features a cameo by the late, great, poet Sorley Maclean. Those of an anti-Muriel disposition, look away know:

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