The Glorious Effect – A Must Watch Film for All Lovers of Ceòl Mòr

This marvellous short film was produced by the BBC in the early 1980s, and seeks to explain piobaireachd to the wider public. Not only does it do so from a historical perspective, but also from a performer’s, and the examination of the solo scene at the time is masterful.

The film is 50 minutes long and there are interviews with many famous characters, and glimpses of others who are now more well known. The list below is simply those who appear in the film, in order, but it is not exhaustive, and maybe you will spot others.

By Dr Peter McCalister

At California Summer School: Ronnie Lawrie, Seamus MacNeill (voiceover), John MacAskill teaching the B doublings, unknown reed-maker, Seumas MacNeill, Mary Alwood, David Murray (voiceover).

In Skye: Children of Patrick Mor MacCrimmon (deceased), unknown piper at Boreraig, Archie Kenneth

At Braemar: Murray Henderson piping, Charles, Prince of Wales, Diana, Princess of Wales, Sandy Spence playing for dancers

Discussion: Ronnie MacCallum, Duke of Argyll, David Murray (voiceover), Iain Morrison playing at military dinner

At Glenfinnan: Seumas MacNeill (voiceover), in tent, Murray Henderson, Donald Bain, Patrick Grant, Alan MacDonald, Jakez Pincet, Tom Speirs, John McAskill. John McAskill shakes hands with Seumas MacNeill, Duncan Johnstone and anther judging; Malcolm McRae (voiceover); Gregor Speirs is the child crying for his mum in the rain!


Some stills from the film…..


At the Silver Chanter: Donald Bain playing, John Burgess, Alasdair Milne, Frank Richardson judging; various people in audience – Jock Speirs is the elderly man with moustache in the front row; Ed Neigh; in back room: Malcolm McRae, Tom Speirs, Iain Morrison, Iain MacFadyen, Murray Henderson, P/M Angus MacDonald, John MacDougall, Donald Bain; Angus MacDonald playing; Iain Morrison playing; more back-room banter.

Discussion: Iain MacFadyen teaching, David Murray, Jack Lee, Angus MacDonald (and John Allan briefly glimpsed) at Edinburgh Castle; Bill Livingstone arrives on plane.


Watch the film here:


Northern Meeting: Murray Henderson, Iain MacFadyen, Bill Livingstone, Iain Morrison, Alisdair Gillies – a very brief glimpse of the young soldier

Falkirk Tryst competition: James Campbell, John Burgess, Seumas MacNeill, Murray Henderson, Tom Speirs breaks a tooth, David Murray voiceover, James Campbell and Captain John MacLellan judging; Angus MacDonald plays; Tom Speirs plays; Malcolm McRae, Iain Morrison; members of Royal Scottish Pipers’ Society in in audience, James Burnett included. Competitors watch, including Angus J MacLellan. A few other characters walk out the door; Hugh MacCallum; Angus MacDonald plays the Earl of Seaforth to finish the film.


4 thoughts on “The Glorious Effect – A Must Watch Film for All Lovers of Ceòl Mòr

  1. Thank you for sharing The Glorious Effect! That is a very good program for anyone interested in piobaireachd.

  2. This was (and still is) a great film – so much history and all the great characters. “The Voice In The Fingers” is another classic.

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