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USBF supported production, The Band returns to BBC Northern Ireland for third series

Date Posted: January 10, 2024

It takes discipline, commitment and hard work to be part of a marching band with members devoting much of their lives to their music and community.

Co-funded by the Ulster-Scots Broadcast Fund, the DoubleBand Films production ‘The Band’ returns to BBC Northern Ireland for a third series, exploring the vibrant musical heritage passed down from generation-to-generation and the dedicated musicians – passionate about their band.

Producer and Director of the series, Jonathan Golden says: “It’s been extraordinary to see the passion that the people in these bands have and their love of creating music.

“From following bands playing in front of crowds lining the street in Scarva on the 13th July, to those performing at the World Pipe Band Championships in Glasgow, it’s been a privilege to capture their lives and experiences over the past summer season.”

For the first time, the series follows two Northern Ireland bands competing at the World Pipe Band Championships, a piper who overcame huge personal adversity to play again, and a young man with a disability who has gained a sense of identity playing with his band.

In the first episode we meet Linda Cowan, a florist from Tandragee and her friends Nadine Cowan and Sharon Richardson from the Mavemacullen Accordion Band, and Aaron Spence who enjoys playing drums with Gertrude Star Flute Band in east Belfast.

It’s a family affair in Kinallen, County Down where Alicia Dickson Hamilton and her parents May and Geoffrey Dickson are keeping the Corbet Accordion Band going in their close knit rural community. Alicia’s grandad was a founding member of the band.

In episode two we meet Andrew Lynch, an accomplished flute player with William King Memorial Band in Londonderry and Sheila Dong from County Tyrone who has been a coronet player with Roughan Silver Band, for forty years.

Tim Webb from Portadown, was born with spina bifida and has spent his life in a wheelchair. Tim does not let his disability limit the quality of his life and is a cymbal player with Markethill Protestant Boys, where he has found friendship and belonging.

Tim said: “The old saying is ‘see the person, not the chair’… and that’s exactly what it is. They have never seen the wheelchair, they see me as me. They see me as Tim.”

In the final episode we follow – Closkelt Pipe Band and Tullylagan Pipe Band – to the World Pipe Band Championships in Glasgow. For Closkelt bass drummer Errin McElwaine competing in the World Championships is the high point of the pipe band season.

Andrew Shilliday from the Tullylagan Pipe Band is an inspiration to all around him, including 21 year old Margaret Hill who struggled with dyslexia at school, but has found her confidence growing since joining the band.

Andrew from Dungannon, studied piping at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, before suffering from a serious autoimmune illness that led to him losing all his fingers and one of his lower limbs. When a friend designed a specially adapted chanter for his bagpipes, Andrew was able to play again, and is now a leading member of the band.

Back home in Kilkeel in County Down, Jasmin Cullen teaches highland dancing at an Ulster-Scots summer school for children. She also plays the drum with Kilkeel True Blues Silver Band, alongside father Reggie and for Jasmin there is nothing better than putting on a performance in your hometown.

The Band starts Wednesday 17 January at 10.40pm on BBC One Northern Ireland with all three episodes available after the first episode airs on BBC iPlayer.

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