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USBF series The Band returns to BBC One NI



Date Posted: December 21, 2021

A new Ulster-Scots Broadcast Fund series, The Band, returns on Wednesday 5th January at 10:35pm on BBC One Northern Ireland. Produced by DoubleBand Films, the three-part series follows the highs and lows of rural families who live together and band together.

The Band explores the remarkable people, young and old, who dedicate so much of their lives to their band, culture and community. Through their love of pipe, flute, accordion and brass band music, this new series reflects a vibrant community with a shared musical heritage that is passed down from generation to generation.

Twenty-one-year-old engineering student Brianna McMullen from Ballygowan, who is half Jamaican and half Ulster-Scots, is not your typical girl in a band. As one of only a couple of women known to beat the bass drum in Northern Ireland, Brianna challenges the stereotypes of banding, attracting attention from onlookers wherever she goes. Brianna is passionate about her identity and her band family – Ballygowan Pipe Band. She’s also a dab hand at welding and clay pigeon shooting.

Brianna said: “People think you just go to the Twelfth of July, but for me, playing the big drum means a lot more. I take great pride in my heritage and culture.”

Returning from series one is the Lutton family, whose musicianship is demonstrated once again when eldest son Craig, a professional percussionist, arrives home to Randalstown to join his family and his local band, Kellswater Flute, for a busy Twelfth.

Craig said: “Drumming is amazing, I can hear the pulse in my heart. It’s just in the blood and I hope that passion never dies, because I’m living the dream.”

Viewers will also meet Winifred Rainey from Newtownhamilton, who has been a member of Aughnagurgan Accordion Band for more than 40 years. With more than 15 members of her extended family in the band, it is her youngest daughter Alex, an agricultural student, who takes the reigns as Drum Major. Despite early morning starts and plenty of silage to draw, this busy farming family always finds time for the band.

Winifred said: “We didn’t get out very much when we were young, so I joined the local band to get out to parades and out and about to things. It’s where I met my husband, Brian. I just couldn’t imagine not being in a band.”

In the following two episodes, we meet the McElhinney family from South Donegal as they prepare for a smaller Rossnowlagh Twelfth than usual and the Graham family from Rathfriland, as preparations for the Ardarragh Accordion Band’s annual Tractor Run get underway.

The Band airs on Wednesday 5th January at 10:35pm on BBC One Northern Ireland.

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