Burns baby, Burns…

Recognise this handsome chap? That’s right, it’s Rick Witter from Shed Seven. Only joking; last year was Rabbie’s year when the 250th anniversary of his birth was celebrated far and wide, and BBC Scotland were at the forefront of the celebrations. Alongside the expected Burns Night celebrations were programmes such as Andrew O’Hagan’s historical look at Burns Robert Burns:The People’s Poet, the comedy drama No Holds Bard and Billy Kay’s Radio Scotland programme The Linguistic Legacy of Burns.

But the major undertaking that the Beeb began was the long term project of making new recordings of all of Burns’ poems and songs and presenting them in one place. That place is at http://www.bbc.co.uk/robertburns/ and at last count there were 410 recordings by names as great and diverse as Brian Cox, Daniela Nardini, Robert Carlyle, Robbie Coltrane, Clare Grogan, Elaine C Smith, Denis Lawson, Bill Paterson and many, many, more. The choice available is staggering, and for Burns amateurs, such as myself, the top ten on the home page is a good place to start. For instance, there you can find A Man’s a Man for A’That recited by Brian Cox, Alex Salmond and Phil McKee (seperately, I should make clear). There are video clips of Paulo Nutini and King Creosote performing it live and of Siobhan Redmond’s rendition, and information contextualising the poetry in terms of why, where and when it was written.

You can hear everything by going to the website, but they are now releasing selected readings as regular podcasts, which can be found at iTunes by searching for Completely Burns and subscribing. It’s the perfect way to familiarise yourself with Burns, particularly the lesser known works. At the moment there are only four podcasts available, but this will grow over the weeks and years, building to an ipod busting collection.

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