Sean Batty to take on Susan Calman in Hogmanay TV ratings battle
He will spearhead a new-look Hogmanay special on STV that will be up against BBC Scotland’s revamped programme, the first for 20 years that will not be presented by Jackie Bird.
Batty, who was recently given his own travel show by STV, will front a Hogmanay special pre-recorded at a 13th-century castle in Ayrshire, complete with ceilidh dance, fireworks and goodwill messages from celebrities.
The meteorologist will be exploring the origins of various Hogmanay traditions, including singing the Robert Burns poem Auld Lang Syne, first-footing, “dressing the herring” and the New Year treat of black bun.
Singers Dougie MacLean and Mairi Campbell have been lined up to help Batty and regular STV presenter Jennifer Reoch compete with a double helping of Calman from BBC Scotland.
STV's show, Sean’s Very Scottish Hogmanay, which has already been made at Craufurdland Castle, near Kilmarnock, will be up against two programmes Calman has pre-recorded at Pacific Quay, BBC Scotland’s Glasgow studios.
They will feature a mix of music from rock bands Travis and Twin Atlantic, Gaelic singer Julie Fowlis and trad stars Elephant Sessions, combined with interviews with actors Martin Compston and Mark Bonnar, Still Game star Jane McCarry and Rachel Corsie, captain of Scotland’s women’s football team.
However, the late-night BBC Scotland show will include live segments cut in from the Hogmanay festivities in Stonehaven and Edinburgh, presented by Amy Irons and Des Clarke respectively, with live footage of the capital’s midnight fireworks also promised on the BBC.
Batty said: “Hogmanay is such a big part of Scottish life, so to be asked to host the programme for STV is an honour.
“I have fond memories of getting ready for the bells when I was younger and celebrating around the TV with family and a few nibbles.
“I can’t wait to uncover some of the fascinating Scottish Hogmanay traditions and bring in the new year with some lovely guests.
"I forecast a wonderful night of celebration so coorie in, pour yourself a wee dram and join us as we go Batty for the bells and ring in 2020."
Reoch added: “The beautiful Craufurdland Castle is a perfect setting and we will be counting down to the bells at a truly Scottish occasion. Join us as we celebrate all that is special at this time of year and wish Scotland a fantastic new year."
Stephen O’Donnell, director of programme strategy and marketing at STV, said: “Sean’s Very Scottish Hogmanay is a show with real heart and warmth, and is a great way for viewers at home to celebrate our most loved New Year traditions.
"Hogmanay is a special time for Scots everywhere and Sean, Jennifer and all of our wonderful guests will make sure we bring in the bells in proper traditional Scottish style.”
Calman has become a regular on BBC panel shows such as Mock the Week, Have I Got News For You, The News Quiz and I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue since quitting a career as a lawyer to pursue comedy full time in 2006.
She was unveiled in November as the new face of BBC Scotland’s Hogmanay coverage.
Calman said at the time: “I always like to get a party started and hope everyone will join me to welcome in 2020 in spectacular fashion.”
Jackie Bird, who stood down as the host of the Reporting Scotland news programme earlier this year, revealed in September she would not be hosting the Hogmanay show for the first time in 20 years. She rejected the chance to front one of the live segments in the revamped programme.
Bird said: “Hogmanay is a hugely prestigious night for BBC Scotland and they’ve decided to rework it, which is completely their prerogative. I wish them well.”
Musicians Phil Cunningham and Aly Bain, mainstays of the Hogmanay specials fronted by Bird, have been dropped by BBC Scotland this year.