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ITV network cuts off the Scottish High Road

SCOTTISH Television's long-running soap Take the High Road has been dropped. The ITV Network Centre said last night it would not commission any more series.

There was anger from the Scottish management.

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''We are very unhappy with the way Take the High Road has been treated by the centre,'' said Ms Eileen Gallagher, director of broadcasting at Scottish. ''After 13 years on air, the three months notice of cancellation is absurdly short.''

The series chronicling life in the village of Glendarroch, filmed on Loch Lomondside at Luss, has had a loyal following not only in Scotland but in all the network regions of the UK.

The series has more than 30 actors, a team of writers and film crew. Its loss will be a jobs blow to the television industry. The programme has also given a boost to the tourist industry.

More than 1000 episodes have been produced. In England, where it is shown in the afternoon, it attracts a substantial audience of up to three million viewers.

''ITV is a UK-wide network but its three remaining drama serials are now all set in England -- two in the north (Coronation Street and Emmerdale Farm) and The Bill in London,'' said Ms Gallagher.

''No region of ITV, even the largest, makes drama just for their own area because of the very high cost. With under 10% of the ITV audience living in Scotland it is particularly important that the centre commissions drama programmes from Scotland.''

Scottish managing director Gus Macdonald said last night: ''Take the High Road is by far the largest drama project ever undertaken in Scotland. It has also been the most consistently popular. Scottish is proud to have produced it and is particularly grateful to all the talents that have made the series so special.''

Controller of drama, Mr Robert Love, who was responsible for creating the series, said: ''When the series started in January, 1980, no one would have expected it to still be going strong in 1993. It is a tribute to the cast, the writers and the technicians involved that it has run for so long.''

Actress Eileen McCallum, who has starred as Isobel Blair, the village shop keeper, since episode one, said: ''It's particularly sad that this should happen when the show has been going so well. It has always been a very true representation of Scottish character and life and I think that is what has attracted so many viewers, not only in Scotland but in England as well.''

The series will come off English screens in the autumn but Scottish will continue to show one episode per week until the end of the year.

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