Tickets are set to go on sale for the biggest surprise event in Scotland’s musical calendar.
It was confirmed on Monday that Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli had been signed by Inverness Caley Thistle for one night, next year.
It was a dream of the club’s bosses, who pursued him for more than a year.
The opera giant, with millions of fans, is likely to add to his following with a first trip to the Highlands.
Booking Bocelli for the Inverness Caley Thistle stadium, in July next year, heralds a post-Covid dawn for a football club with proven credentials as a music promoter.
Caley Thistle chief executive Scot Gardiner, who played a key role in negotiations to attract him to the area, said: “We felt that if we did not reinsert the stadium on the concert map with as big a star as we could possibly get then we would kind of be doing it a disservice going forward.
“So, if we set the bar really high then it would mean that we could attract equally sizeable artists in the future.”
The stadium has famously hosted sell-out gigs by Elton John and Rod Stewart.
Bocelli’s Believe tour will generate big money for the club and its official charity partner, the Highland Hospice.
Charity spokeswoman, Karen Duff, said: “We’re delighted. He’s such a huge star worldwide and for us to be picked as a local charity.
“Scot wants to keep all the funding within the Highlands, so it’s just incredible. We’re really, really excited.”
Bocelli seems to be as thrilled as his fans at the prospect of performing in Inverness.
He said: “It will be more than a concert. It’ll be a deep, personal joy to take my voice to a place of history, beauty and poetry.”
He has even quoted the bard, Robbie Burns, saying that his heart is “already in the Highlands”.
The masterminds who netted Bocelli for Inverness after many months of discussions say they cannot wait for the t-shirts for the Highland leg of the tour – showing Caley Stadium listed alongside musical icons.
Mr Gardiner added: “He’s playing Hollywood Bowl, Madison Square Garden, the 02.
“I was sending them pictures of Caley Stadium and saying ‘look how amazing this is’.
“So, it was a tough ask but we put together a professional team and they could see that, so in the end we got there.”
Further music nights are likely to be confirmed by the club in the coming weeks.
A Scot has said being picked for the latest series of Love Island is a “once in a lifetime opportunity”.
Former glamour model Shannon Singh from Fife will join a PE teacher with a physical disability, a civil servant and a luxury events host when the new series of the dating show launches on ITV2 on June 28.
The 22-year-old said: “I used to be a glamour model when I was 18/19. I loved those days, I’ve got nothing to be ashamed of, they were my glory days. Now I’m more on Instagram/ YouTube. I’ve done a bit of commercial modelling. I can DJ as well.”
She will be joined by Hugo Hammond, 24, a PE teacher from Hampshire, who was born with clubfoot and previously played cricket for the England Physical Disability team.
Speaking about his cricket career, he said: “I’ve actually played cricket for England PD (Physical Disability). I’ve been to Bangladesh, Dubai, I’ve been everywhere to play cricket.
“I was born with clubfoot. I had lots of operations when I was a kid. You can only really tell when I walk barefoot. I’ve got a really short Achilles heel. I walk slightly on my tip toes”.
He said of his job: “I teach secondary school PE. Absolutely love my job. I love all my sports. It’s great to be able to pass on that enthusiasm to be physically active to the younger generation and hopefully they feel the same about me teaching them.”
In 2018, contestant Niall Aslam left the series early, later explaining on social media that he had Asperger syndrome, a form of autism that can make it difficult to cope with change or stress.
Also hoping to find true love in the villa this year is civil servant Sharon Gaffka, who is taking part because she does not want to be the “only one in the group chat that is single anymore!”
The 25-year-old from Oxford, who was previously an operations lead for the Department for Transport, said of taking part in Love Island: “It’s been a bit of a running joke between my friendship group for a while that I should apply, probably because I’m the most outrageous one out of the group.
“But also because of Covid and the lockdown, I’m the only single one in my friendship group. They’re either married or planning on getting married. I don’t want to be the only one in the group chat that is single anymore!”
Talking about her job, the former beauty queen and Young Women’s Trust ambassador said she has been a civil servant since the age of 18.
She said: “I’ve worked in lots of different departments. I’ve been doing Brexit policy for the last year, I did a stint during the coronavirus pandemic in the Department of Health so I was helping deliver testing kits and managing the operations. It’s been an intense year!”.
Another contestant in the line-up is 24-year-old Aaron Francis from London, a luxury events host, who said of his job, including ‘working at royal weddings’: “Yeah, Eugenie and Beatrice’s over the summer. I hosted and chatted. It was nice and intimate. Everyone’s chill. In my job you meet a lot of famous people… unless you’re Beyonce, I’m not really interested.”
They are joined by Jake Cornish, a 24-year old water engineer from Weston-super-Mare, who said his celebrity crush is reality TV star Billie Faiers.
He explained: “She is my dream woman. I think for a laugh once with the boys, I messaged her. I can’t remember what I messaged her. She’s a lady, she’s just lush”.
Fashion blogger Kaz Kamwi, 26, from Essex, said she wants to take part in Love Island because she’s “ready to be in a relationship”.
Nando’s waitress Liberty Poole, 22, from Birmingham, who is also a marketing student, described herself as a “girls’ girl”.
Asked if she had seen any awkward dates while working at Nando’s, she said: “I’ve had people try and rinse me for a date at Nando’s, get the discount and stuff.
“But I’ve never had a date in one. I’ve had a few things happen at work. I’ve had a napkin shaped as a rose given to me which was cute, that was when I first started working there, and then I’ve been proposed to.
“It was a bit unexpected! He was on his own, he’d come into the restaurant every week and he got down on one knee and was like: ‘Will you marry me?’ But in his hand, it was a charity support badge not a diamond ring or nothing. So I was thinking, that’s one way of saying I’m a charity case when it comes to love!”
This year’s series sees Laura Whitmore return as host and it will be the first time the ITV programme has aired since last year’s summer series was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The new series starts on June 28 at 9pm and airs on ITV2 and the ITV Hub.
The producer of Outlander welcomed a filming boom in Scotland which he attributed to the pandemic.
Michael Wilson, who has worked on the hit TV series since 2013, has revealed two other “major high-end” series are expected to start filming in Scotland over the next few months.
He said new studio facilities which have been created in former industrial buildings were fully booked up as a result of soaring demand for shooting space.
The producer predicted new sites in Leith, Edinburgh, and Bathgate, West Lothian, could emulate the success of the Belfast factory where Game of Thrones was filmed and Outlander’s base in a converted warehouse in Cumbernauld, South Lanarkshire.
Mr Wilson, who has worked on Outlander since it went into production eight years ago, also cited the filming on new Star Wars and Indiana Jones productions as evidence of the growing boom.
Other films included Ken Loach’s My Son, starring James McAvoy and filmed in the Highlands, Vanessa Hudgens’ Netflix film Princess Switch, videogame biopic Tetris, and The Lost King, about the discovery of Richard III’s remains beneath a car park.
Line of Duty star Martin Compston has been making two series in Scotland in recent months – supernatural thriller The Rig and Trident submarine drama Vigil – while marine murder mystery Annika and black comedy Guilt have also been in production.
Mr Wilson said: “Scotland was doing OK, but suddenly what has happened coming out of the pandemic is that there is a line of projects which should have shot a year ago, plus all the others which need to be shot now.
“The industry is unbelievably busy at the moment.
“As Outlander has come to the end of filming for the sixth series, Star Wars and Indiana Jones have both just arrived in Scotland.
“There are two other major high-end television shows prepping and filming in Scotland over the next few months.
“By hook or by crook, more spaces are being taken over and turned into film studios.
“Jason Connery’s place in Leith is booked up for the next eight months or more and the Pyramids Business Park in Bathgate is booked up for the next six or seven months.
“They are not film studios, there are spaces where you can build sets, but inevitably, just as happened in Northern Ireland with Game of Thrones, the companies that go into those spaces will pump money into them and improve them.”
Brodie Pringle, head of the screen commission at government agency Screen Scotland, said: “Scotland’s screen sector has worked through much of the pandemic and we’ve just had the busiest winter for production on record.
“With a pro-active skills strategy strengthening our already excellent crew base and increasing studio infrastructure, we’re confident of attracting more high-value, returning productions, creating an increasingly sustainable, year-round industry.”
Sir Rod Stewart has admitted it will be “an uphill climb” for Scotland to secure a win over England in the Euro clash on Friday night.
The singer, who was born in London but is of Scottish descent and is a devoted fan of Celtic and Scottish football, will be attending the game at Wembley and joked he had to sell his house to afford the tickets.
He told BBC Breakfast: “I’ve been watching these games since I was 14, England and Scotland, and I’ve had my heart broken so many times.
“I’d love to see the Scots win. It is going to be an uphill climb, but win or lose, as long as they make us proud.
“It is a serious day, I am the cockney Scotsman, and we do take this game extremely serious against the old enemy.
“I’m very passionate. I’m actually going to be going, I’ve got a box for six, cost me an arm and a leg, I had to sell the house to buy it.
“I’m taking my two sons and three of my best friends who are all Scotland supporters, we are just going to hope for the best.”
Offering his final prediction for the score, he said: “One-nil to Scotland and I will die a happy man.”
Reflecting on his favourite memory of an England v Scotland game, he said: “The most famous one was in 1977 when Scotland beat England with the pitch invasion.
“My dad was next to me, I said: ‘Dad, I’m going to go down on the pitch.’
“He said: ‘No you’re not.’ I said: ‘Yes, I am.’
“I got to the side of the pitch and I had a tammy (hat) on. The policeman said: ‘You’re not going on there,’ and I took my hat off and he knew who it was, and he said: ‘Go on then,’ so I was part of that pitch invasion, naughty boy.”
Sir Rod, who recorded a version of Que Sera Sera for Scotland’s 1978 World Cup campaign, as well as Purple Heather with the Scotland squad for Euro 96, said he would jump at the chance to record another football anthem.
He said: “I would love to, if I was asked, I would do it.
“We don’t need a song right now because we’re already in the in the finals. But for the World Cup, if I was asked to do one, I’d love to do one.”
Scotland “punches above its weight” in its musical output – but with the stories of the country’s all-female groups at risk of being forgotten, a new film aims to celebrate and preserve the history of those pioneering girl bands.
A fundraiser has almost raised enough for the documentary team to commit to creating a definitive catalogue of photographs, interviews and audio so that the bands can tell their stories in their own words.
Carla J Easton, a Scottish singer-songwriter, recalls growing up in Carluke, South Lanarkshire, in the 90s eager to make music.
“I was desperate to be in bands. I was told, ‘You can’t be in a band, it’s cool to be the guitarist’s girlfriend, it’s cool to be in the audience’,” she said.
Despite going to gigs as a young teenager, Easton said, it wasn’t until she was 20 years old that she saw a woman in a band live on stage.
She formed TeenCanteen, an all-girl band, and then went searching for her sonic predecessors. When a filmmaker friend asked her why there were so few all-female groups in the scene she said it was her “hold my pint moment”.
“For years, I’d been trying to find the bands that had come before TeenCanteen and I realised how difficult it was. You could track down the names, but you couldn’t source the music.”
It was in that moment that the project, titled Since Yesterday: The Unsung Pioneers of Scottish Pop, was born.
The feature-length documentary, co-directed by Easton and filmmaker Blair Young and produced by Miranda Stern and production company The Forest of Black, charts the social impact of women making music collectively in a male-dominated industry.
Easton wants it to be the kind of film she wishes she could have seen as a teenager. One that would have inspired her in the face of experiences like having her high-school group’s lyrics, accidentally left in the practice room, shared around and mocked.
“You have to question why; the talent is there, the support is there in the local scene but there is some hurdle in the industry,” she said.
“You don’t set out to make a documentary to address all that, these questions just start to arise.”
The documentary explores Scottish groups who recorded John Peel sessions, opened for The Beatles and The Sex Pistols, and featured Jimmy Page’s guitar-playing on a record.
It also hears of the challenges the musicians faced in what remains to this day a male-dominated industry.
It highlights issues such as sexual assault, being fired for becoming a parent and comments about physical appearance.
Interviews with members of bands like The McKinleys, who supported The Rolling Stones at Wembley, Strawberry Switchblade, who reached the top ten with their track Since Yesterday, and The Twinsets, who were performing gigs at Edinburgh’s Saughton prison at just 21, have been gathered over the last few years.
Now the team want to overcome the last hurdle in bringing their stories to the screen. A Kickstarter is gathering donations to secure as much archive material as possible.
The aim is to create a reference for contemporary performers and aspiring musicians to learn about the history of the art form through the stories of bands like The Ettes, Lungleg, Sophisticated Boom Boom, His Latest Flame, The Hedrons, TeenCanteen and others.
With backers from all over the world, Easton notes that the story of all-female groups being written out of music history is a global one.
She said: “For a small country we punch above our weight with international reach and influence.
“You kind of hope one of the knock-on effects is someone will look at the bands around them in the scene in their country, in France, Germany, England.”
To find out more or donate to the documentary’s fundraiser click here.
Indiana Jones movie crew film high speed chase in Highlands
Footage shows stunt actors racing on motorbikes through the village of Glencoe.
The Indiana Jones movie crew have been spotted filming a high speed motorbike chase through the Highlands.
The plot of the new Indiana Jones 5 has been kept tightly under wraps.
However, photos of stunt actors racing on motorbikes through the village of Glencoe give a first insight into the secret plot of the new film.
Two stunt workers can be seen racing each other on motorbikes which appear to be from the World War Two era, behind a vehicle with a large camera rig.
A third can then be seen joining the two, riding what looks like a Harley Davidson motorbike, appearing to give the actors directions.
The scene was being filmed earlier this month with the stunning backdrop of the Buachaille Etive Mor mountain behind the speeding bikes.
Tony Featherstone, 40, was returning home from a wild camping trip and had pulled into a layby for breakfast when he spotted the high speed chase.
He,said: “I was enjoying breakfast whilst looking up at the beautiful Buachaille Etive Mor when I noticed the road was being closed on either side periodically to stop traffic.
“Each time the traffic was stopped, two motorbikes would travel down the road alongside a vehicle with a large camera rig attached to it.
“They’d stop at carparks on each side before getting off the bikes and interacting with the crew.
“At times, there was someone on a third bike – a Harley Davidson, I think – but this guy just seemed to be giving directions to the two actors.
“The scene involved two people – a man and a woman – and the focus of this seemed to be to capture them racing alongside the Buachaille Etive Mor mountian.
“As well as the camera vehicle, there was also a drone capturing aerial footage at times too.
“We were right in the middle of the shoot. No one else was being allowed through during filming but because we were already there, we couldn’t move, so we stayed and took photos for around 40 minutes.”
Val McDermid, Denise Mina and Chris Brookmyre are among the authors in the running for a major crime writing prize.
The McIlvanney Prize, previously called the Scottish Crime Book of the Year Award, is named in memory of William McIlvanney, often described as the godfather of tartan noir.
This year’s shortlist for the prize will be announced on September 2, coinciding with the publication of his final book, The Dark Remains, which was completed with the help of Ian Rankin.
Other writers on the 13 strong longlist include Alex Gray with Before the Storm, Neil Lancaster with Dead Man’s Grave and Stuart MacBride with The Coffinmaker’s Garden.
The award recognises excellence in Scottish crime writing and comes with a £1000 prize and nationwide promotion in Waterstones.
Chris Brookmyre, who is in the running with his book, The Cut, has featured on every longlist since the first in 2012 either as himself or his alter ego, Ambrose Parry, and won the prize in 2016 with Black Widow.
Bob McDevitt, director of the Bloody Scotland International Crime Writing Festival, said: “The McIlvanney Prize longlist once again reaffirms that our crime readers love great books by well-loved authors they are familiar with, but are always on the lookout for new voices and new ways to tell a crime story.
“It’s a testament to the breadth and depth of Scottish crime writing.”
The McIlvanney Prize will be judged by Karen Robinson, formerly of The Times Crime Club and a Crime Writers’ Association (CWA) judge; Ayo Onatade, winner of the CWA Red Herring Award and freelance crime fiction critic and Ewan Wilson, crime fiction buyer from Waterstones Glasgow.
The Bloody Scotland International Crime Writing Festival, scheduled to take place in Stirling, September 17-19 2021, will now take place in hybrid form.
The winner of the McIlvanney Prize will be revealed as part of the festival on Friday September 17.
The shortlist for The Bloody Scotland Debut Crime Novel of the Year will be announced at the end of June, with both prizes sponsored by The Glencairn Glass.
Kirsty Nicholson, Glencairn’s design and marketing manager, said: “We are delighted to see such a great longlist for the McIlvanney Prize and we congratulate all the authors.”
The longlist for the McIlvanney Prize 2021 is:
The Cut, Chris Brookmyre (Little,Brown)
The Silent Daughter, Emma Christie (Welbeck)
Before the Storm, Alex Gray (Sphere)
Dead Man’s Grave, Neil Lancaster (HarperCollins, HQ)
The Coffinmaker’s Garden, Stuart MacBride (HarperCollins)
Still Life, Val McDermid (Little,Brown)
Bad Debt, William McIntyre (Sandstone)
The Less Dead, Denise Mina (Vintage)
How To Survive Everything, Ewan Morrison (Saraband)