"Presenter Neil Oliver described two leading Scottish historians as the "grumpy old men" from the Muppets yesterday after they criticised the BBC series A History of Scotland, which he hosts.
Several, including Professor Allan Macinnes and the leading historian Tom Devine, questioned why Mr Oliver, a broadcaster and journalist but not a professional historian, was presenting the programme." The Scotsman, 9th December, 2008
And now read on...
(Ext day, Academic buildings.)
Neil Oliver: And it was here, at one of Scotland's foremost universities that the battle for the future of doing Scottish History on the telly would be decided. On one side, me, gorgeous, pouting Neil Oliver, er, fanny magnet with all lovely hair. And on the other, hackit bastards Macinnes and Devine.
But what were the reasons for the conflict?
(Cut to Ext day, BBC Scotland HQ)
Neil Oliver: It was here, six months earlier that the seeds of the conflict were sown. What happened in that building that resulted in academic toys being thrown out of scholarly prams?
Let's find out.
Neil Oliver: I'm here to interview Neil Oliver.
Neil, just what was the source of the conflict that threatened the very future of doing Scottish history on the telly?
Neil Oliver (again): Well Neil, jealousy pure and simple. At the initial planning stages for the show, that I think you present quite magnificently by the way..
Neil Oliver: Thank you.
Neil Oliver (again): No problem. Macinnes and Devine thought that they'd be getting TV work out of it.
Neil Oliver: And instead?
Neil Oliver: You, I mean me, I mean us, we got to do everything.
Neil Oliver: Including me interviewing you, I mean me, I mean us.
Neil Oliver: Exactly.
(Ext day, Academic buildings.)
Neil Oliver: And so, today, I'm meeting with these self-same academics in this historic, historical looking building to decide the future of Scottish History on the telly. Will we be able to reach a compromise or will Scottish History etc. enter a new dark ages or something? Let's find out.
(Wide Angle shot of Neil opening big oak door to reveal only darkness within.)
Neil Oliver: Hello, hackit historians, MacInnes and Devine are you there? Honestly, it's so dark in here, I can't see a thing!
(Door swings melodramatically shut. Sounds of shouting, stabbing noises ensue. Door eventually reopens to reveal blood-stained figures of Professors Macinnes and Devine.)
Together: What happened inside this building? No one, least of all the police, will ever really know. The only thing that's certain is that in the dark Neil Oliver became confused and stumbled tragically against the knives that we were holding. Impaling himself again and again until he died, eventually.
Devine: What was clear however, was that with Neil Oliver dead, the BBC would have to get proper historians to front their Scottish stuff. Historians like me, Tom Devine.
Macinnes: And me, Allan Macinnes.
Devine: Well, obviously, I meant you as well.
Macinnes:Just making sure we're clear on that point, that's all.
Inside: "And so, a new era in Scottish History on the telly dawned. With proper, albeit ugly, historians, presenting proper, grown up history programmes, content to share their academic knowledge for an up-front fee, book deal and 15% gross of the repeat fees."