YOUTH-oriented TV: juvenile dementia that makes you long for your

vertical hold to go permanently or hope that someone will press a

pension book into your hand.

It does not perhaps bode well to begin from such a negative premise.

Nevertheless, this is what Donny O'Rourke and his team did and things

have worked out not bad in the form of NB, the young-thinking popular

culture programme that has returned for a second six-week series on

Scottish Television. NB, the weekly listings programme that is not bad,

all things considered.

''We had to sit down and start by saying what NB wasn't going to be

like,'' producer O'Rourke says. ''We were all fed up with being sneered

at by some youth wearing a distressed leather jacket in front of a

hand-held camera. So we weren't going to be a sub-Network 7 effort, all

pointlessly-zappy graphics. The idea that people only have a 45-second

attention span is particularly discredited in Scotland.''

It is Scotland that gives NB its distinctive feel, its strengths,

O'Rourke feels. ''Scotland is less hampered by divisions of age and

class. Thus we can successfully serve the 45-year-old woman with two

children who doesn't get out much and the 17-year-old thinking popster

who is out every night.

''NB is snippety, yes, but that's because there is so much going on in

Scotland. We do have on-screen graphics, but they aren't annoying

because they tie in with the images, they contain interesting

information, and they move the programme along.''

NB has had other hurdles to overcome, quite apart from the

self-induced oafishness the Club X cock-up factor approach to youf

culchur. Hitherto, Scottish Television itself has not been renowned in

native media-commentating circles for demonstrating that it knows what

is going on in Scotland, appearing at different times in its existence

to view Scottish popular culture as either tartan kailyard hokum or

blonde mid-Atlantic gameshow bimbos, fluffy rural villages or guttural

Glesca hard men.

For Scottish there was no recognition of anything in between. Until

NB, that is (a programme created, incidentally, in a Portakabin in

Scottish's car park and with but a single STV staffer on its books).

O'Rourke brushes aside criticism of his employers, although plainly it

bothers the gal-

lant Cowcaddens footsoldiery charged with the actual task of

programme-making. ''It's a pity there's this wearying journalistic

assumption that everything Scottish does is rubbish and that everything

BBC Scotland and the indies do is OK. NB's director, Alastair Scott, is

a class act whose achievements and past history bear comparison with

anybody, anywhere.''

He prefers to highlight NB's indisputable plus points. Part of

O'Rourke's personal brief for NB, reflected in the show's initial

pre-launch advertising, was that it should encompass everything from

John Mauceri to Una McLean by way of Pat Kane. His own criteria for good

TV is that it should entertain the viewer as well as stretch his or her

mind. NB generally succeeds in all these areas (though perhaps not in

all of them all the time).

''A lot of credit should go to the on-screen presenters, too, along

with the whole production team. Everyone on NB has been fun, and decent,

and honorable to work with every day, which sounds like showbiz smarm,

but it's been true and it's a very rare thing.

''Our presenters, Allan Campbell, Janice Forsyth and Bryan Burnett,

have a natural geniality on screen, quite apart from their knowledge, a

likeable tone that transmits itself to NB. They aren't acting. There is

no big-star crap or ego self-massage.''

For 1990, when NB will be on our screens for a full run of 44 weeks,

there will be a proper suite of offices within STV's portals and,

O'Rourke fervently hopes, the chance for NB to spread its wings with an

in-depth documentary or two.

In the longer term O'Rourke hopes that NB will ''not just cover

culture and the arts, but become part of it, making works of art


NB: not bad by anybody's standards, positively brilliant by STV's.