THE Scottish Government has distanced itself from remarks made by the Makar, Liz Lochhead, where she expressed disappointment that there are not enough "Scottish people" working at the national theatre company.

The poet and playwright, in a wide-ranging interview with the new writing magazine Gutter, said that it was a "great pity" that "there's a shortage of Scottish people working in the National Theatre of Scotland".

Lochhead, appointed in 2011 as Scotland's national poet, was quoted in the interview saying: "It's just a shame, you know.

"I've nothing against any of the people that do work there.

"I just wish there were more Scots, some more people with a Scottish theatrical culture."

That Scottish theatrical culture, she said, is "gutsy, upfront, borderline" with a "rough and ready relationship with variety".

The artistic director of the National Theatre of Scotland is Laurie Sansom, who is English, and its first director, Vicky Featherstone, was also English.

However, last night a Scottish Government spokeswoman said: "Liz Lochhead is entitled to her own opinion but is it not one we share."

Henry Bell, an editor of Gutter, said: "As an English person working in Scottish theatre and an editor of Gutter magazine I can't think of even a hint of a moment when Liz Lochhead has exhibited anti-Englishness or any other xenophobia.

"And not that it's relevant, but when it comes to Scottish theatre being a distinct tradition that doesn't always get its dues, I agree with Liz."

Yesterday, Ms Lochhead was asked about the interview with Janice Forsyth on BBC Radio Scotland and replied: "I don't know if I ever said that. I might have.

"I did an interview with a poetry magazine [Gutter] with someone who is not a journalist but a paediatrician and a friend of mine.

"I am not criticising anybody, because I want a job at the NTS.

"It might be nice to think that a playwright like me would be able to get something on at the National Theatre of Scotland, wouldn't it?"

In the Gutter interview, Ms Lochhead said she that the NTS has only staged a "very sketchy" version of one of her plays, a touring version of Mary Queen of Scots Got Her Head Chopped Off, which was produced in 2009.

She says: "I don't feel bitter. But I do think: 'F**k's sake, I would like to see something really great of mine done by the [NTS] before I'm deid."

An NTS spokeswoman said: "Whilst we do not agree with Liz Lochhead’s assessment of the National Theatre of Scotland, we continue to welcome healthy debate about Scotland’s vibrant theatre scene."

Ms Lochhead said that since its establishment the NTS has been a "very mixed bag".

However, she said that Black Watch, by Gregory Burke, is "one of the best bits of theatre that's ever, ever been made".