At last, the long awaited BBC Scotland documentary on The Digger has been screened. I have mentioned The Digger a few times here and I must admit I'm a fan, though this programme did reveal the darker side of the magazine which I have been studiously trying to ignore in pursuit of my weekly giggle at the gangsters.
The Digger is a sort of OK magazine for neds or a demented vigilante rag depending on your view. Every week it lists the antics of local criminals- those on the streets, in the police force and in authority. Personally I'd rather it focused more on the police and their dodgy dealings than on the depressing antics of ill educated drug addicts but it is what it is.
I was surprised to learn that it's circulation is now at 11,000 -not bad at all for a 50p self-distributed magazine. I was more surprised still that only two people have been forced out their homes because of it, one being a convicted paedophile whose picture appeared on the cover and the second being The Digger himself, who is the the most unfortunate position of being hated by both the criminal classes and the police.
The programme also featured a poor looking sod by the name of Brian who'd had a contract put out on him after being called a grass in The Digger, something which he vehemently denies being. I was disturbed by the attitude of James Cruikshank (the ruler of The Digger) who didn't care much because Brian is 'a twit'. From what I saw on the programme it's fair to say that Brian probably should repeat a year or two of school but for heavens sake, even I think he doesn't deserve to die. I have no idea what the truth of the story is and in any case the people he's alleged to have informed on sound like total scum, if he did clipe he's done society a favour. I think The Digger made a bad move there.
That said many of the criminals featured are quite pleased to achieve minor fame by appearing in The Digger so it's not all bad news. The programme was not without it's lighter moments in particular the documentary makers stint as the magazines court photographer, which involved a jammed camera and the pursuit of a sex offender through the Gorbals in an attempt to get that elusive cover shot. Sadly the viewers only saw the sex offender from a distance so I'm unable to hunt him down and throw rocks at him for your amusement.
One also has to admire the hard work and dedication of the magazines founder James Cruikshank who carries on in the face of threats both legal and physical. Let's face it there are easier ways to earn a living. Being able to put out a magazine without the backing of the usual publishing and distribution networks, not to mention without advertising is an undeniable achievement not to mention rather inspiring.