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Scots will still take the High Road

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 September.

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.''

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