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Last Updated: Friday, 4 August 2006, 10:16 GMT 11:16 UK
Subtitle decision 'puzzles' Scots
Crew members featured in the TV series Trawlermen
Between four and five million viewers have watched each edition
The decision to subtitle a BBC One show on heavily-accented North Sea fishermen has "puzzled" people in north-east Scotland, a politician has said.

The stars of Trawlermen had already toned down their language to make them more understandable, said Stewart Stevenson, MSP for Banff and Buchan.

He suggested Cockney soap EastEnders also carry subtitles so the BBC was "consistent" on regional dialects.

The BBC insisted the participants had no objection to being subtitled.

Trawlermen is a five-part BBC One series about fishing off the Scottish coastal town of Peterhead.

The producers felt it was important for the audience that the stories being told by the trawlermen weren't lost
BBC spokesman

Subtitles were put on "a small number of segments" where several factors - including loud machinery noise and stormy weather - had combined with accents which even the trawlermen conceded "can be hard to understand", a BBC spokesman said.

"The first two programmes were shown to all the trawlermen involved in the series before it aired.

"They knew that subtitles were going to be used in these instances as the producers felt it was important for the audience that the stories being told by the trawlermen weren't lost as a result."

But Mr Stevenson said he thought "people might have made an effort to understand the language of the north-east, the language of Doric, which is what the trawlermen on the trawler are speaking".

Stewart Stevenson MSP
The amount of local vocabulary and intonation that would be inaccessible to the general audience is quite modest
Stewart Stevenson MSP

Local vocabulary

"I think there's a huge value in diversity and linguistics and culture, and one of the things we should do is make the effort to listen carefully when we meet something new.

"I think that's what we had to do with the Liver Birds, to go back to the 1960s, what we had to do for Boys From the Blackstuff, Auf Wiedersehen, Pet, and now Trawlermen," he told the BBC News website.

He called for "a bit of consistency in allowing people to listen and make up their own mind rather than pandering to people who don't want to engage with anything outside their own back yard."

Mr Stevenson - who was elected to the Scottish parliament in 2001 - stressed he thought the series was otherwise "excellent".

However, he said "the amount of local vocabulary and intonation that would be inaccessible to the general audience is quite modest".


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