News anchor Norman Macleod, from Scalpay, joins Ramsay MacMahon for a scenic hike in Angus to reflect on his remarkable broadcasting career spanning three decades in the latest episode of Rathad Ramsay (Ramsay’s Road).
The sixth in an eight-part series of intimate interviews with some of Scotland’s most recognisable personalities, the programme – being aired tomorrow (Monday February 12) follows the pair as they take a countryside walk to talk life, loss, and the healing power of nature.
Ramsay asks if he ever misses living in the Western Isles. Norman responds: “Yes, but I still visit my family on Scalpay often. I don’t know when, but I’d say I will move back.”
Norman shares anecdotes from his childhood on Scalpay, where his love for journalism – and the great outdoors - first began.
And how a move to Aberdeen for college led to a 36-year career at what is now STV North, then the independent Grampian TV company.
Norman was left feeling inspired after a school visit from the former Stornoway-based BBC Radio nan Eilean. He said: “The station had just started, and they visited the primary school to record the pupils. The teacher asked me to read the school news for the radio crew - I thought, perhaps this was something I could do when I leave school.
“I never expected after two years in college I would find a job so quickly, but I got a job at Grampian TV. I was just a boy when I started working!”
From the early days to milestone anniversaries, Norman talks openly about his experience, and how it feels to be considered a household name: “I first started as a journalist but after a few years of being there the head of news asked if I’d be willing to read the news. It was rather scary - I was only 23. But, like most things, once you set your mind to it, you gain experience.
“At that age you will make mistakes, but you learn from them.
“What appeals to me about being a news presenter is that it is not like a regular nine-to-five job. Every day is different, and even 30 thirty years, it’s still different.
“In public, people often see me as someone they know, someone they trust and are comfortable with. I feel proud that people are comfortable enough to do that with me.”
As the pair make their way up to the Falls of Unich, Ramsay asks how Norman spends his time away from the cameras. Sharing his love for the outdoors and keeping active, Norman says: “Without a doubt, especially for people in our line of work it’s important do something that keeps you active. It’s good to get out on the bike, or for a walk, or to the beach if the weather is nice.
“During lockdown I started going out on my bike more often… maybe I should take my bike to a place like this!”
Norman candidly shares his personal reasons for keeping up an active lifestyle. He says: “When I was 14 my father died after suffering with heart disease. I was aware this is from his side of the family. I knew I didn’t want to suffer the same condition.
“Just six months ago, I lost my sister to the same condition. That was very hard, she wasn’t very old. I had some tests and so far, at least, I’m relatively healthy, and that’s good.”
With weekly episodes airing every Monday evening throughout January and February (and available on demand on BBC iPlayer), Ramsay’s guests include broadcaster Cathy MacDonald, professional cook and TV chef Gregor Macleod, athlete Kerry MacPhee and musician Ingrid Henderson.
Rathad Ramsay (Ramsay’s Road) with Norman Macleod premieres on BBC ALBA on Monday 12 February at 8.30pm (in Gaelic with English subtitles) and will be available on BBC iPlayer for 30 days.
Watch live or on demand: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m001v5vl.