Published: 29/04/2008 00:00 - Updated: 21/11/2011 19:34

Gardenstown laughs off TV show 'stitch-up'

Swept off her feet by Gamrie charm is Suzanne Shaw, contestant in TV show 'The Baron', as her host, local butcher Bill Fraser, makes her welcome at the Garden Arms.
Swept off her feet by Gamrie charm is Suzanne Shaw, contestant in TV show 'The Baron', as her host, local butcher Bill Fraser, makes her welcome at the Garden Arms.

BEING referred to as 'Scotland's strangest village' as Gardenstown was cruelly described on a TV reality show last week has only brought its people closer together, say residents. 'The Baron' attempted to portray a community divided by religion. ITV screened the first episode of the show last Thursday, and the programme makers clearly had an agenda of their own. But it seems the Gamrics are made of stronger stuff. Locals who spoke to the 'Banffie' say the show has only strengthened the already close bonds within the community and created some new ones. The canny villagers were also well aware that the show's producers had painted a patronising image of the village as quaint but a little backward. On the whole, though, residents said they had enjoyed meeting the celebrities well, two thirds of them, at least and have enjoyed a good laugh now that the programme has finally hit television screens. Local butcher Bill Fraser, who played host to former Hear'Say singer Suzanne Shaw, spoke highly of his guest, but said that he felt the programme had tried to stitch up residents. "I think they set the village up," he said. "They told so many lies that there is no phone signal, that all the good-living folk live up the brae and the no-goods live down the brae. "They should have got their facts straight, but I suppose they have to sell their programme. "It's a pity they tried to portray the village the way they did I've been here 28 years and I wouldn't move. "They tried to stitch up the villagers, but it didn't work folk here are better than that." Mr Fraser also heaped praise on his guest, Miss Shaw, with whom his family have become close friends. After shooting finished, she returned to Gardenstown with her partner, radio DJ Jason King, and her son, Corey. Miss Shaw returned the favour, inviting Mr Fraser and his family to her birthday bash last year. They also spent New Year together. He said: "She's a fine quine she wasn't voted celebrity mum of the year for nothing. She's a topper, really down to earth. "I didn't like the papers saying she hated Gamrie either she can't wait to come back up." He also enjoyed the time he spent with Mike Reid, and he attended his funeral last year with his hosts, James and Linda West. "He was a jewel of a man. James and Linda were good to him, and he couldn't believe the way people opened their doors to him. "Margaret and Alec (West, Malcolm McLaren's hosts) offered to take McLaren back into their home if he returned to the village they said they had given their word he could stay for 10 days. "It's changed my impression of the village to see how the folk stick together." David Winterton, publican of local watering hole the Garden Arms, admitted that he did not see the first episode of 'The Baron'. Speaking of the village's celebrity guests, he said: "They came across as genuine people. "Suzanne Shaw was a lovely, bubbly type. She came back again with her boyfriend and her son. "Mike Reid enjoyed a pint here most nights, and he thoroughly enjoyed being behind the bar with me. "He was like a father or grandfather figure. All he wanted to talk about was his wife and family and how much he loved it here. "Behind the Frank Butcher act, he was just a man who wanted to be at home with his wife." He was less complimentary about Mr McLaren, who did not recognise him in the street the day after he had been welcomed into the pub. He also gave short shrift to stories circulating in the national press that the former Sex Pistols manager was beaten and thrown down a flight of stairs, which he claimed had been re-christened 'Malcolm's Steps'. Fellow owner Lynne White said the show did not paint an accurate picture of Gardenstown. She said: "To describe it as the 'strangest village in Scotland' was a bit off the wall. "It's a nice place to live. We all have our own lives, but everyone chums along together." Harbour Road resident Jim Wiseman, brother-in-law of Malcolm McLaren's host, Alec West, said: "The only one who was in the wrong was Malcolm McLaren. He came here to cause mischief. "My brother-in-law told him he was a Christian, which he is; he just told him what his beliefs are. "I don't think he treated them very well as hosts I don't think he could treat anyone right. "The people who made this programme should have known better." He added that he saw little point in the whole exercise anyway given that the previous Baron had had very little to do with village life. He said: "They said the village needed a Baron. I've been here for 70 years, and I've never seen a Baron. Episode two of 'The Baron' will be shown on ITV1 at 10.35pm tomorrow (Thursday).

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