THE hundreds of soap addicts who gathered in Glasgow's George Square
last night -- in preference to Coronation Street -- heard exactly what
they wanted: Take the High Road has been saved.
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In true dramatic fashion, the announcement came at the end of a rally
to whip up support for the programme which had the plug pulled on it at
the beginning of the month by the ITV network which said that it would
not commission any more episodes of the 13-year-old series after
Ms Eileen Gallagher, director of broadcasting at Scottish Television,
said: ''Since the network centre took its surprise decision to
decommission the show, we have been working around the clock on ways to
produce the series to the same high quality for broadcast in Scotland.
''I'm delighted to say that we have now devised a strategy which will
allow us to show Take the High Road once a week from next year.
''I've always been aware of how popular High Road is with our viewers
but even I have been surprised by the level of support we have had in
our efforts to save it.
''We have received literally thousands of letters, telephone calls,
and messages of support and I'm very pleased that we have now come up
with a rescue plan.''
Ms Gallagher said that the station greatly appreciated the efforts of
those who had been backing it -- the Take the High Road Fan Club, the
Scottish Arts Council, the STUC, Equity, the Scottish Tourist Board,
Scottish and English MPs, and, most of all, the viewers who had shown
how important the show was to them.
Although the programme, which began in 1980 and which has clocked up
more than 1000 episodes, will continue to be seen in Scotland, it will
come off network screens in September.
Ms Gallagher said: ''It's disappointing for our viewers south of the
Border that they will no longer be able to enjoy High Road. It could be,
now that the series is set to continue, some of the English companies
may want to come back to it at some future date.
''We haven't fully finalised financial details of the local show
production but we are near enough to be able to confirm the show's
continuation. We felt we had to announce our decision as soon as
possible to put an end to uncertainty for viewers and all those involved
in the production.''
The announcement marks a dramatic turnaround at Scottish Television.
About two weeks ago, STV chairman Bill Brown said that the cost -- more
than #30,000 an episode -- ruled out any chance of the programme being
made purely for local consumption.
Last night, supporters of the show were exhorted to continue the fight
to get the ITV network to change its mind.
Actress Eileen McCallum told the crowd in George Square: ''Never
forget that you have a voice. Please keep lobbying and keep writing.''