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2014 is an extraordinary year for Scotland.
So much is happening across the length and breadth of the country.
And it's not all about politics and sport.
We're here with a brand-new series, a journey to discover the events
And the stories behind them.
Everything from theatre to comedy.
Great music and festivals!
Activities we can all get involved in.
We're exploring what's happening inside our buildings
and what's going on on your street.
We'll tell you about the quirky...
and the exciting.
We'll delve into Scotland's tastiest food and drink.
And meet the people creating these incredible experiences for all of us.
So plan your summer with us. Join us as we head On The Road 2014.
Our route tonight - I'm on the Moray Firth asking what
this lighthouse, Egyptian design and the RAF have in common.
The sight, the noise, it's wonderful. It's thunderous!
Comedian Phill Jupitus reveals why his upcoming Edinburgh Fringe show
isn't just for laughs.
And Cat Cubie is chain-saw carving in Carrbridge.
Try saying that three times faster!
It's a good job you didn't give me the chain saw, I think.
It's a very good job.
Let's talk about the biggest party to hit Scotland - possibly ever.
The host for the Commonwealth Games
will be Glasgow.
Yes, we've been building to it for seven years, and we've spent
more than a billion pounds across the city, but finally
the wait is over.
Festival 2014 kicked off on the weekend
and in just two days, the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
will be performed live, with an expected audience of 1.5 billion
watching 3,000 performers in front of 40,000 people
at Glasgow's Celtic Park.
Rehearsals are currently taking place in a top secret location.
And while I can't reveal where, I'm hoping to uncover
some of the other hush-hush details.
What do we actually know?
There'll be athletes, singers, there'll be royalty,
celebrity guests, the Queen's Baton Relay will complete
its 190,000th kilometre on the night.
There will also be thousands of volunteer performers,
and a procession of 4,500 athletes from 71 countries and territories.
And maybe a few invited politicians in attendance.
Well, you've got to let a few in.
But while you can expect a shedload of VIPS and famous faces,
most of the dancers in the opening ceremony will actually
be regular folk.
3,000 were selected, we've got 500 of them here.
ALL: One, two, three, four...
Actually, make that 501.
It's all about timing.
And, yes, it's just as hard as I'm making it look.
# When I grow up I wanna be famous
# I wanna be a star I wanna be in movies
# # When I grow up I wanna see the world
# Drive nice cars... #
To make sure the soundtrack is a surprise on the night,
each performer must wear headphones.
And it's also a good way of hearing what choreographer Simone Sault
has to say.
There's some heavy looking guys around here.
Is it OK for me to see this? Should I be in here?
-What, seeing what?
-Mum's the word. Mum's the word.
There's great enthusiasm there. Mixed abilities,
different age groups and I think that's a lovely thing.
-But they have one focus. And that's to get the show on.
They all want to be here. They're 100% committed.
My final question is, what is the costume?
-I can't give things away like that.
-Oh, come on!
-No, no, not to you
or anyone. You'll have to wait until the big night, my friend.
-Is it tartan?
-I can't say anything. My lips are sealed.
Oh, well - maybe I can prise a few secrets from the volunteers.
And find out what's motivating them
to perform for an audience of 1.5 billion.
Well, we could tell you the overall, it's going to be great fun,
it's going to be a great showcase for Glasgow in itself.
-But the specifics...
-Details we'll have to keep to the day.
The biggest challenge for me,
because I'm in my 60s, is trying to remember it all.
I think it's a good chance to represent Scotland,
if you don't have much else going for you in life.
If I fall over in the middle of Celtic Park, I'll just jazz up
my hands and put a big smile on my face and jump back up.
Just to add to the pressure, imagine seeing your dance moves
on a 100-metre-wide screen filling the South Stand at Celtic Park,
what the creators are calling a 'Window on the Commonwealth.'
It's dual function,
so when we have performances on stage it will create a fabulous backdrop.
But it also allows us at certain moments in the ceremony,
not everything is going to happen in Celtic Park,
some parts of the show will happen in other bits of Glasgow,
or other countries or territories around the world, so it gives us
a broader stage to invite the world into our home and welcome them
to our ceremony.
Glasgow 2014 promises to deliver an unforgettable opening ceremony,
plus the BBC will be awash with wide coverage.
So, wherever you are on Wednesday night from 8pm,
this is an event not to be missed.
Or at least it will be, once I master these dance moves.
HE BREAKS WIND
Sorry about that.
Throughout August, Edinburgh is the epicentre for all things
cultural, hosting six flagship festivals from arts to books
to the Military Tattoo.
All of which collectively involve over 60,000 performers.
Festival stalwart Phill Jupitus is better known as a comedian.
I'd only go up a pyramid if I thought it was a Toblerone.
But his real love has always been art.
And at this year's Fringe Festival, he will be hosting Sketch Comic,
a very special event that will see him armed with his tablet
and sketching some of the Scottish National Gallery's
most iconic artwork, inviting his audience to sketch along with him.
I've been coming to Edinburgh
for the Fringe Festival
for nearly 25 years, and it's a place that I love.
I started coming here off-piste, as it were.
But to me it's about more than gigs.
One of my favourite places is here at the Scottish National Gallery.
I can spend hours and hours in galleries.
There is so much detail in these pieces.
There's so many different things you can look at
in these works.
The walls of the National Gallery are home to everyone
from Cezanne to Rembrandt.
But today what's caught my eye is this Titian -
Venus Rising from the Sea.
Not a big piece but it's just...
She's almost like iridescent, there's almost a light coming out
of Venus herself.
I've drawn since I was kid, and before comedy I even made
my living as an illustrator, so sketching comes as second nature
to me. Except now I use a tablet with a drawing app instead of paper.
I started sketching at galleries the way that
I am now a couple of years ago.
I went to a gallery and somebody got very, very cross with me,
and so almost as an act of defiance,
I started drawing.
And then through the drawing you just look at the art differently.
Gallery attendants like Amanda Wright will have to get used to me
hanging about the place sketching paintings like Titian's Venus.
It's an almost incomprehensible level of beauty.
-There's a sort of perfection in that somewhere.
And that's what it is.
You see it in some things and it might be the colour, it might
be the shape, it might be how somebody has framed the shape
-of a hand.
-But there's something perfect in there.
It's just been in various galleries, she's been there
ringing her hair out for hundreds and hundreds of years.
It's not got any drier.
-It has not.
-I'll let you concentrate.
-Thank you. Cheers.
All right, my version
of Titian's Venus Rising from the Sea is done.
It's in the ballpark, but I've got the spirit of her face better
than I thought I would, so I'm quite happy with that.
But it's fun to do,
and certainly a good way to spend an afternoon with the painting.
And that's basically it.
For a month, I'm going to be coming to one of the best art galleries
in the world and copying some of the most beautiful paintings.
Come and join me if you want.
Just bring yourself, one of these and your imagination.
So, why not join Phill with a tablet or a pencil and paper?
He'll be sketching every weekday from the 4th of August for three weeks
at Scotland's National Galleries in Edinburgh.
He'll also give a talk every Thursday about the paintings he's sketching.
For more information,
go to our website...
Stay with us,
as author and broadcaster Muriel Gray discovers
the children's book being transformed
into ground-breaking theatre.
Aagh! That's fantastic!
And at Thunder in the Glens, I unearth the Scottish ancestry
of what's probably the world's most iconic motorbike.
The streets are lined, crowds are cheering, flags are out waving.
It's just a marvellous event.
Though right now...
..at the foot of the Cairngorm mountains,
in one sleepy village,
things are about to get real.
ROAR OF CHAIN SAWS
Every August, Carrbridge and its population of around 700
welcome 3,000 people to their annual wood-carving competition.
It's called Carve Carrbridge,
and we sent Cat Cubie to find out why this event
really is a cut above.
It's a test of skill and artistry on a massive scale.
And thousands of folk will come here to witness it
as Carrbridge goes carve crazy.
Now in its 12th year, it attracts competitors
and spectators from across the globe.
Not bad for something that started as a simple fundraiser
and today, according to organiser Carol Ritchie, supports a wide range
of local charities.
It's not your normal show.
CHAIN SAW BUZZING
It's something different, it's got a huge buzz.
Wielding chain saws is pretty exciting, I have to say.
Great entertainment and get some beautiful art out of it.
Over the last decade,
the likes of chain-saw art has gone from being a novelty...
..to something many artists are making a living from.
Even so, Carve Carrbridge is a tough competition to crack.
It has strict rules and regulations
and the competitors have to battle against the clock to finish in time.
Yes, four hours is all you get to turn a eight-foot-high block
of wood into a striking piece of art.
Your only tools - a set of chain saws and a blowtorch,
though you will also require a chain-saw licence.
And while this contest sounds testosterone-fuelled,
actually, it's one for the girls as well.
At last year's event, Alice Buttress was the only female competitor.
And at 62, she was also the eldest.
-So how did you get into it?
-Ten years ago
they were having a one-day workshop,
the competition was much smaller then.
We all got to have a go and I thought this was really quite
good fun. I've sculpted for years with clay
and so using a chain saw was just another method to sculpt with.
And while Alice is modest about her chain-saw prowess,
even in the early days it was easy to see her potential.
I won the Novice Cup the first year, I was quite delighted,
I even beat my husband.
-And ten years later, you're still going strong.
-Still going strong!
One trick of the trade is to have a few trial runs before the big event,
so that's what Alice is doing today.
Her mission - to transform this block of wood
into an owl.
Requiring up to five different chain saws to get the detail just so.
Oh, my goodness, look at this guy. He's incredible.
That's as much as you can do with the chain saw.
But we are allowed to burn it, so you can put some
highlights in for me.
You'll need to show me exactly what I need to do.
It's a good job you didn't give me the chain saw, I think.
A very good job.
'This year's Carve Carrbridge is taking place
'Saturday 30th of August.'
Oh, I don't want to do it too long.
'As well as wood carving, there's also a fete
'and a range of activities to get involved in.
'Everything from crockery smashing to axe-throwing.'
Meanwhile, the finished pieces will be up for auction at the end of
the competition, so you might even get your hands on an original.
The Moray Firth was once one of the most treacherous parts
of Scotland's coastline.
It was here many a sailor met his demise.
In fact, in November 1826 a series of violent storms sunk
a staggering 16 vessels.
Which is why soon after, the locals of Lossiemouth
petitioned for a lighthouse,
so I'm here to discover both its fascinating history
and its exciting future.
After all, it was designed by a member of Scotland's
lighthouse building dynasty - Alan Stevenson.
It's striking, it's majestic
and it was clearly built to withstand the harsh Scottish elements.
But without the determination of the local people
here in Lossiemouth, it would never have been built.
Though, after almost two centuries of making this a safe harbour,
ultimately it was the lighthouse that needed saving.
The Covesea Skerries Lighthouse has stood empty since the last keeper
left 30 years ago, but it's about to take on a new lease of life.
Their first move was saving this decommissioned lighthouse
from the developers, and they achieved that
by setting up a charitable company.
The people of Lossiemouth are very special.
If they want to achieve something, they will do that.
And proof of the pudding is, we have the lighthouse.
And they've raised over £300,000 in government funding,
allowing them to open the lighthouse to the public for the first time.
Project manager Robert Forbes is giving me a sneaky peek.
So what makes this a classic Alan Stevenson lighthouse?
Alan Stevenson was fascinated by all things Egyptian.
And in this case, you've got the full spectrum of what
he was trying to produce at the time.
There are stylised arches and chimneys designed to look
like the pillars of a temple.
And this lighthouse is literally topped off with design flourishes
such as this.
But wait - there's more.
You can see here we have just an air vent,
but on top of the air vent
we've got a brass plaque
of the god Isis, who was the god of lighthouses.
It allowed them to be a little bit individual.
His father Robert built lighthouses and he followed in the family
tradition, but by doing things like this
he just set himself apart from the normal lighthouse builder.
This was the third lighthouse that Alan Stevenson built in Scotland,
and he went on to design 13 in total.
Though this one is perhaps his most inspiring, standing at 36m,
its outlook over the Moray Firth is absolutely breathtaking.
The views here are incredible. That coastline is just stunning.
On a fine day,
you can see bottlenose dolphins in the sea beyond us.
But that's not even the main attraction, as the locals are also
promoting their lighthouse as being the perfect vantage point
for plane spotters - yep, RAF Lossiemouth is just next door.
I've just seen an aircraft taxiing down, so you are going to see
one as it climbs away off to the north.
JET ENGINE ROARS
Wow, the noise is loud - the sight, the noise, it's wonderful.
-Yes, it is.
If you're an air enthusiast, you're not going to get a better place
than this, and this viewing gallery from the top of the lighthouse.
You will see Typhoon aircraft, Tornado aircraft,
then we've also got the search-and-rescue helicopters
on the far side of the airfield.
What's more, the locals have been campaigning once again,
this time to build a heritage centre next to the lighthouse
that will make RAF Lossiemouth's history available to the public.
Hopefully by March 2015.
Meanwhile, the Covesea Skerries Lighthouse is planning to open
its doors from August this year.
With the Commonwealth Games just two sleeps away,
there's also much excitement over the £13 million
that's been invested in companion arts programmes.
So we sent author and broadcaster Muriel Gray to explore
one of the highlights.
A festival of storytelling taking place across Glasgow
that culminates in a ground-breaking performance
from the National Theatre of Scotland
inspired by a children's story called The Tin Forest.
"..near nowhere and close to forgotten
"there was a small house, with small windows,
"that looked out on other people's rubbish and bad weather."
If that sounds familiar,
then that's probably why this resonated with the National Theatre,
seeing it is a metaphor for Glasgow,
for its transformation from industrial powerhouse,
through its decline to its subsequent regeneration.
And given they're the people who brought us the multi-award
winning Black Watch, it's a sure bet Tin Forest will also be a must see.
It's the story of an old man who transforms the ugly world around him
into a beautiful forest.
We've come to where the set is being built
to meet one of the designers, Gavin Glover.
-Gavin. Hi, Muriel.
'It won't be your typical play either,
'as audience members will immerse themselves within it
'by walking around different parts of the set.'
It is The Tin Forest show.
But it's going to be a slightly different version of The Tin Forest.
So we're in this 1920s David Lynch-y kind of hotel lobby.
-And what happens?
-I'm not sure if I can tell you.
It's completely interactive, with characters like the old man himself
ready to take on the pluckiest of spectators.
-It's always risky, interactive theatre, because...
..you'll get children, they might want to come in here and touch...
That's great. Every performance will be different.
-Can I touch him?
The National Theatre is also famous for staging their productions
in unusual spaces,
and the location for Tin Forest is a perfect example.
The South Rotunda on the Clyde, once part of a Victorian
under-river tunnel system, it's lain derelict for years.
But now it's being transformed,
and it reflects the regeneration theme at the heart of the festival.
And there's some added surprises too.
This is not just interactive theatre, this version of The Tin Forest,
it's also multimedia.
The Glasgow School of Art's Digital Design Studio is digitally
mapping the interior, bringing to life The Tin Forest itself
with dazzling projected images.
What we do is we use
a laser scanner and the laser scanner fires a laser at the wall
and computers can generate a model of this wall.
If you've got a horse galloping across the wall,
it'll literally be as though there's a horse galloping across the wall
-and shouldn't distort based on the shape.
The Tin Forest Festival begins today, July 21st, and runs for two weeks
with live events and shows by over 300 performers
at various venues around Glasgow.
And if you want to get along to the Puppet Experience itself,
it runs at the South Rotunda from Thursday the 24th July
until the 3rd of August.
The sheer volume of work that has gone into it, the unique ideas,
the amount of creativity is absolutely staggering.
Only one word for it, really - and that's unmissable.
The Cairngorms are Britain's highest and biggest mountain range.
55 summits over 900m, surrounded by beautiful forest.
It's no wonder this national park attracts over a million skiers,
climbers and walkers every year.
But it's also the place of pilgrimage
for the Harley-Davidson obsessives who make up the riders
and followers for the annual bike fest Thunder in the Glens.
This annual event began in 1997 with around 150 bikes
but it has grown year on year.
And this August promises to be the biggest yet, with Aviemore expecting
around 1,500 bikes and 3,000 mad keen enthusiasts.
So what I want to find out
is why so many of us love that roar of the engine
and the romance of the open road.
And why an event like Thunder in the Glens might well be worth
a visit even if you've never straddled a motorbike.
It's basically just a group of people that want to
get on the bikes and ride out and show the bikes off to the public.
To ride up the street with crowds at the side of the street waving
and shouting, it's just unbelievable.
What do you get out of it?
# Born to be wild... #
Bike or no bike, everyone's welcome.
And this festival takes over the entire town with rock,
pop and blues gigs across Aviemore.
Though as far as the event's head road captain is concerned,
the biggest highlight
is the Saturday ride out to Grantown-on-Spey.
You can see for miles all the bikes coming,
you can hear them from miles away. Everybody loves it.
The streets are lined, crowds are cheering,
flags are out waving, it's a marvellous event.
We've got maybe 200, 300 Harley-Davidsons
with the loud pipes, that's when you get the "Thunder in the Glens".
But today, ahead of August, I'm at a bike meet near Brechin in Angus,
where 400 riders are hitting the road.
And it's given me the chance to fulfil a lifelong dream.
Because, for the first time ever, I'm going to get to ride
MUSIC: "Thunderstruck" by AC/DC
I'm joining the Dunedin Chapter,
a group of bikers committed to the ride out -
a phenomenon that became popular at bike rallies
from as far back as 1917.
These tours were devised to let riders discover
the countryside around them.
And I reckon riding out is still one the best ways
to see Scotland.
Today's route also has a strong connection to the history
Because here in Aberlemno by Brechin is the ancestral home
of one of the families behind Harley-Davidson.
And this is Davidsons' Cottage,
once home to the Davidson family before they emigrated to
escape poverty to America.
And little did they know then that they would become
one of the biggest families in motorcycling history.
Mind you, it took a couple of generations.
In 1901, the family fortunes changed when Sandy and Margaret Davidson's
grandchildren began experimenting with the idea of motorised bikes.
Teaming up with William S Harley to create what's arguably
the most iconic motorbike brand in the world.
-How do you do? Nice to meet you.
-Come on into the Davidson Cottage.
'Which is why fan Mike Sinclair
'has restored the Davidsons' former home.'
We get people from all over the world,
our visitors book is...
every page, you know, South Africa,
Australia, Brazil even.
We're always pleased to see them and they're always really excited
to come here and be in the place where it kind of started off.
And descendants of the Davidson family will also make their own
pilgrimage from the USA to Thunder in the Glens this August,
for the very first time,
making a lot of the bikers here very happy indeed.
Well, we've got Jean Davidson coming over this year, Fred,
from the family. We've never really had that level of support.
Yeah, we get a lot of visitors from the company
in the States, which is fantastic, but to have that family connection
because, when we ride our bikes, we are a big family.
MUSIC: "Layla" Derek & the Dominos
If you fancy getting to know some big and noisy motorbikes better,
Thunder in the Glens is taking place in Aviemore
August 22nd to the 25th, with live music and ride outs taking place
across the festival.
The open road beckons and I've got a new spirit of adventure,
so I shall see you in the Cairngorms.
That's it for this series of On The Road.
But summer's just beginning.
There's so much we've featured you can still get involved in.
Like Scotland's National Airshow.
The Italian Chapel in Orkney - an historic gem with a touching story.
-You're not going to cry.
There's the Pittenweem Arts Festival.
Or why not head to Eilean Ban near Skye for some otter spotting?
And then of course there's The Kelpies.
Oh, my goodness, they are ENORMOUS!
..Scotland's secret nuclear bunker.
This is Susan Calman speaking to you from the secure nuclear bunker
that I've managed to get into somehow.
And the Ryder Cup, with highlights on the BBC.
So, what are you waiting for?
For more information,
go to our website...