THE BBC hit back yesterday after Radio Scotland was branded "a national disgrace" by the leading historian Professor Tom Devine.

A spokesman rejected the academic's claim and insisted the corporation was proud of Radio Scotland's current affairs output and its contribution to the debate on Scotland's future.

The comments followed criticism by Mr Devine during a public debate, entitled Independence and Identity, organised by The Herald's sister paper, The Sunday Herald.

He criticised the station as "inadequate", lambasting in particular its "constant stream" of music and phone-ins.

But a spokesman for BBC Scotland said: "Tom may not be aware, but Radio Scotland has been moving towards a speech-by-daytime, music-by-evening schedule for some time. Our evening music strands are highly valued by our listeners who don't share his view that we provide too much music.

"And while Tom may not like phone-ins, listeners tell us that they value the chance to participate and contribute to the issues of the day rather than only having an option of listening to the opinions of a limited number of voices.

"Our varied schedule has attracted consistently high listening figures and positive audience feedback over the last couple of years. The programmes range from major historical series, arts and culture features and science documentaries to compelling set-piece interviews.

"Drama is featured in the schedule – for instance, we have a four-parter coming up, The Mysterious Case of Dr Hyde.

"Edi Stark's interviews are highly regarded by our audiences and by her peers in the broadcasting industry and Brian Taylor's Big Debate regularly covers the issues which matter to our audiences.

"We are also proud of our support for specialist music in our evening schedule which includes shows by Jamie MacDougall on classics, Bruce MacGregor on folk, Ricky Ross on Americana, and Iain Anderson with his mix of folk, blues and rock'n'roll."

Mr Devine's criticism follows claims of bias against the BBC in its handling of the independence debate. Earlier this year a group of Nationalists demonstrated outside the corporation's Pacific Quay HQ in Glasgow, handing mock P45s to journalists they claimed were biased in favour the Union.

A few weeks after that Newsnight Scotland were accused of being biased in favour of independence.

The incidents prompted the National Union of Journalists to condemn the bullying of journalists reporting the independence debate.