Q&A with Susan Calman about BBC Scotland's Hogmanay
Susan will be leading BBC Scotland’s Hogmanay 2019 celebrations.
How are you feeling about fronting Hogmanay 2019?
It’s an institution I’ve grown up with and to be part of that is the most incredible honour. Watching Hogmanay on BBC Scotland brings back so many lovely family memories and I think it’s the same for most people in Scotland. It’s an unbelievable privilege to be part of it.
What are your memories of watching the show as a kid?
I loved that I was allowed to stay up at Hogmanay. Watching Scotch And Wry was always a big thing, and then sticking with BBC Scotland until after the Bells. The family would all be round, and we’d sit with a glass of Gran’s ginger wine, the kind that could strip paint. Right after the Bells, Dad would go out with the dogs and then come back in with some firelighters to first-foot us. I think having those traditions is the same for most people in Scotland - thinking of it brings back lovely memories.
And will your family be watching?
My family will definitely be watching. Mum and Dad are really excited. I’m sure my mother will text me and let me know what she thinks of it. My sister lives in London now, but for Hogmanay she comes up to Scotland with her kids - my niece and nephew - who are seven and five. The kids normally go to bed on Hogmanay, but they might be allowed to stay up a bit later to see Auntie Susan this year. I’m sure they’ll all sit with my Gran’s recipe ginger wine, which my mum now makes, and watch the show. It’s nice to keep those traditions going for the next generation.
Are you pleased with how the show’s shaping up?
I think we’ve got a brilliant show lined up - a really welcoming, funny and warm programme that reflects what modern Scotland is all about. I love the chat show format - I really enjoy talking to people and hearing their stories and we want it feel as though you’ve just had some extra friends pop round to your living room. It’s full of people you know, people who’ll make you happy. We’ve got a great mix of guests, from big movie and telly stars, to some of our country’s most-respected sports people and, of course, there’s going to be some brilliant music.
How are you planning to put your own spin on the show?
Well, I’m 45, and I’ve spent half my life watching Jackie Bird on BBC Scotland at New Year and I just feel that if I can carry on the legacy that she’s put in place, then I’ll be doing a good job. If I can be half as recognisable as the face of Hogmanay as Jackie has been, then I’d be delighted, because she’s amazing. I think what’s really important about the show is that it’s for people who are sitting among 100 family and friends at home or people who are watching alone. The television is company for a lot of people watching alone and I want it to be good company. I want it to feel like friends chatting and everyone feeling welcome to join in.
Are you looking forward to working alongside Des and Amy?
We’ve got a brilliant team. I’ve worked with Des many times since I started out on the stand-up circuit about 15 years ago. He’s funny and brilliant and brings such warmth. And, of course, he’s the guy with the pressure to get the countdown right. I love that we’re celebrating all over the country as well and Amy will be letting us in on a real spectacle with the Fireballs Festival from Stonehaven. We’re hoping to create a really genuine atmosphere of ‘you’re welcome, wherever you are and whoever you are’.
What’s your usual first-footing gift?
Well in our family we’re all about the home-made gifts. At Christmas I do dinner for 25 but I ban anyone from bringing a shop-bought present - they’ve got to make something. It’s far nicer and so much more appreciated. Last year I made everyone home-made pickled onions and radishes and everyone loved them, so I might go with that again for first-footing. Who doesn’t love a home-made present?
If you could first-foot anyone, from any time in history, living or dead, who would it be?
It would have to be the aviator Amelia Earhart. I’m obsessed with her. At a time when women weren’t encouraged to take up dangerous pursuits like flying, she became a pilot and flew around the world. She was just amazing, a really fascinating woman. I’d love to talk to her about her about her life, and introduce her to a Scottish Hogmanay because from what I’ve heard about her she enjoyed a good party and I’m sure she’d have loved it.
Any New Year traditions you always stick by?
I always follow the one about having no rubbish in the house. All the bins get emptied and the rubbish bags go outside before midnight. I’ve always done it. I also put fresh bedding on all the beds - I think it’s all about starting the New Year with a clean slate, starting afresh. I don’t do the thing where you open all the windows to let the old year out and welcome the new one in – we’ve got five cats at home and they’d all jump out.
Biggest wish for 2020?
A simple, but important, one - for everyone to be happy and healthy.
December 31, 2019 4:05am ET by BBC One