Last Sunday the episode of “The Secret Millionaire” which is situated in Pilton, has been broadcast on Channel 4 [ Episode guide ]. I found it quite intriguing to see Pilton portrayed by an outside TV production crew.
They really managed to get the worst shots of the areas, mainly by going over to Muirhouse and filming the empty houses marked for demolition, which are still standing because of legal problems with some owners. The TV crew managed to take shots of the shopping centre without the audience being able to see any of the new buildings like the North Edinburgh Arts Centre or even the library or the super Craigroyston Community High School surrounding it and managed to portray the area worse than it really is, although the protagonist stressed that the area has got a really good community feel with a lot of the residing projects and charities.
I also never had heard of CCLASP (Children with Cancer and Leukaemia Advice and Support for Parents) before, which actually seems to be situated in Leith, the TV crew seems to have extended the area bounds quite liberally again.
I vaguely remember the filming here, marred with an heightened activity in PEP’s garden at that week, which usually lies about rather ignored. The TV crew were actually quite unobtrusive as only two people or so, I actually could not see them taking outside shots with the “secret millionaire” although it seemed at one point they were having a piece to camera but it seemed more like a news crew at that point rather than filming a documentary. As I waddled through the background of the picture with my stroller I was very inclined to shout – if you move half a metre to your left you get the new houses in! And the gorgeous view to the Forth estuary!
Anyway, people are used to Pilton video zooming about the area with their cameras although the big black van with the dark windows obviously made everybody very curious and got everybody talking. That was also the week when the window of one of the cars in front of PEP was put through. I guess the kids have been acting up a bit for the camera, too.
Pilton is usually having a bad press treatment by the Edinburgh Evening News/Johnston Press and is ignored by the rest of the media unless there is a murder or so.
So it is quite nice that actually a positive side is portrayed of this area, and the local groups and the community spirit in Pilton are definitely the areas biggest attractions. [ Scotsman article ]
In a way it is sad that the issue of the big funding cuts to the local community have not made the way into the documentary, especially the NEN, the North Edinburgh News is sadly missed. Somehow I would also be keen to know how the charities were selected, if the “secret millionaire” tried others but were turned away because of organisational issues like lack of references or because of time/planning constraints within projects. And they never seem to have to fill in one of these looooong volunteer forms on the program.
I was also astonished that none of the community centres made it into the documentary as there are so many activities going on there, and none of the children’s groups either, which are quite big and good in this area. A pity the North Edinburgh Trust with had gone that much downhill it wasn’t mentioned in the documentary either, with all the good work they had done to empower the people in the community out of poverty.
I wonder if the documentary will have any lasting effect on Pilton; I guess the initial portrayal of Pilton as a run-down place riddled with drinks and drugs will set it back again for a while. Dunno about the councils reaction, it would be good if they would put more money into the area, but so far, all they want to do is to take the roof of the shopping centre!