HAMISH Wilson, the only full-time head of drama on independent radio,

is about to move from Clyde to Radio Scotland in Edinburgh. After 10

years in the commercial sector, there are several reasons for the shift,

but the main one, he says, is that he is going to work at a place where

they want him to make plays on a regular basis.

Trained as an actor, he is, at the age of 46, making as graceful an

exit as possible from the Clyde stage. But his farewell remarks do have

a sting in the tail. ''Radio Clyde have been very straightforward and

generous and they have made a commitment to a presence of radio drama,''

he said.

And then the sting: ''But I've not been making a lot of plays

recently. It's worked out at an approximate average of somewhere between

1.9 and 2.3 plays a year. One year we did not do any plays at all. And

that's not enough. With the best will in the world, I wanted to make

drama work in commercial radio because I believe it has a place. I

believe it is important.''

If you overlook the timespan, the awards and commendations that have

come Clyde's way during Wilson's tenure are impressive. In 1983, the

first year of the Sony awards, Mary Riggans got one for best actress for

her part in the Donald Campbell play Till All the Seas Run Dry. This

year the same award has come to Katy Murphy, playing her first radio

role, in Nick McCartney's Elephant Dances. She had sprung to fame as

Miss Toner in the TV series Tutti Frutti.

''The competition was terrifying,'' says Wilson. ''BBC had about 60

dramas entered from its four networks and the final nominees alongside

Katy were Emma Chambers and Billie Whitelaw. Katy also got a special

commendation from the Prix Futura in Berlin where the jury were split

down the middle.

She had been nervous about being on radio for the first time, but I

told her it was not as difficult as she thought. If she gave me the

performance, I promised I would do the technical nuts and bolts bit. She

was surrounded by a wonderful cast of experienced actors -- Tom Watson,

Jan Wilson, Michael Mackenzie, Martin Black, Jim McPherson -- but she

carried the burden of it beautifully.''

Another landmark was the first Bell in the Tree series -- five-minute

dramas by Eddie Chisnall, broadcast three times a day, five days a week

-- which got a gold medal in New York and also had a Glasgow pub named

after it. Now, ironically, on the point of his departure, Clyde are

doing a second series for 1990. Actor/director Finlay Welsh has been

brought in at short notice to complete this series, and by the time

Wilson takes up his new post at the start of December, about a quarter

of the dramas will have been completed.

''With the best will in the world, I wanted to make drama work on

commercial radio because I believe it has a place and I believe it is

important,'' says Wilson who had previously been with Radio Forth when

it was still ''knee-deep in laughs and plaster''.

''That was one of the reasons that, with the agreement of Equity and

the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, I started the Radio Clyde

broadcasting skills competition, so that I could get young actors

involved in doing radio drama. It is a competition for final year

students of the college and the prize is a contract to work at Clyde. If

this involves working in a play, it allows them to get their Equity


''But the problem is you can't get on by doing one or two plays a

year. You get rusty. You forget how to do it. Whatever my ambitions for

drama on commercial radio, they couldn't be effectively realised if I

was rusty.''

He had been enticed to Clyde by Andy Park, now a TV producer (Tutti

Frutti was one of his) with BBC Scotland. Quite a few people drew his

attention to an advert in the Glasgow Herald for the BBC job, which

brought him to his second point: ''If the BBC believe I am good enough

to do it, it is an enormous compliment because I have never worked for

them as a director or producer, only as an actor.

''I am going there because I will have the opportunity to make a lot

of drama and will be working alongside such accomplished directors as

Stewart Conn and Patrick Rayner. I am no longer going to be sitting

alongside people asking me: 'What the hell are you doing with your

time?' ''

What appealed to him about the set-up at the BBC was that it endorsed

without reservation that radio drama was a present and running strand in

all their programming -- ''The joy for me is that I will not be involved

in making products purely for

Radio Scotland, nor for Radio 4, or Radio 3, but for all of them.''

Born in Cambuslang, Wilson ran away to school at a very early age

because his parents told him he would get comics when he could read.

While at Glasgow Academy he became a part-time pupil of the drama

college, and aged 14, appeared on stage at the Citz with Iain

Cuthbertson in An Enemy of the People. Joe Brady and Anne Kristen were

assistant stage managers. As an actor he worked at the BBC with people

like Effie Morrison, Bryden Murdoch and James McKechnie -- ''I was pure

blotting paper, just watching how it was done.''

If you look carefully at the old film comedies like Whisky Galore, you

will see Wilson as the island policeman. Similar roles followed in the

Para Handy series, first with Duncan Macrae, then Roddy MacMillan. He

was in the film Greyfriars Bobby, but achieved stardom in his family's

eyes when he got a lead role in Dr Who. He and the late Nigel Stock were

founder members of Scottish Actors Who Never Did a Dr Finlay's Casebook.

In fact they were probably the only ones eligible.

He puts radio drama at the same level of importance as live theatre,

and said: ''It is more powerful than television or film because it makes

a greater demand on the imagination of an audience. Radio allows you to

creep inside somebody's head and paint pictures that are going to stay

long after the programme is finished.''