2014: who will make big impact this year?

Nina Nesbitt. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

Nina Nesbitt. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

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WITH the door firmly closed on one year, another one stretches ahead of us. Twelve shiny new months – who knows what highs and lows they might bring?

Of course there’s the not insignificant matter of an ­independence referendum, the first of a series of highly emotional ceremonies to remember the centenary of the First World War, and, at last, trams will trundle along ­Edinburgh streets.

Yang Guang. Picture: Joey Kelly

Yang Guang. Picture: Joey Kelly

On the sporting front there’ll be the thrills of the Winter Olympics to look forward to, the Ryder Cup and, of course, the Commonwealth Games.

Some things are guaranteed: Edinburgh’s festivals will continue to draw tourists to the city and we can safely ­predict that motorists and cyclists will continue to have their disagreements.

But amid all that, whose voices will shout the loudest and most effectively? Who will grab the headlines and which faces will become the most familiar?

So here, without the aid of a crystal ball or a Tardis, are the ones we reckon we’ll almost certainly be watching in 2014.

CITY LIFE

TOM NORRIS

Tom Norris’ public profile will soar as the £776 million tram line will be launched by May. The general manager of Edinburgh Trams has a wealth of experience in public transport, having occupied several senior management roles in the rail industry before joining Edinburgh Trams.

TIAN TIAN

Will this be the year we hear the pitter patter of tiny panda paws? All eyes will be on the Edinburgh Zoo panda enclosure again this spring and Tian Tian in particular.

KEVIN GRAY

The chief executive officer of the Royal British Legion Scotland will have a busy year ahead as the nation gathers to mark the centenary of the start of the First World War.

The organisation has launched its Voices of Veterans campaign, a drive to gather stories, photographs, letters and memorabilia linked to the Great War. A series of exhibitions is planned and the charity’s representatives will be involved in what promises to be emotionally moving events, including exhibitions, concerts and parades.

SUSAN MORRISON and IAN HARROWER

Just when you thought Edinburgh couldn’t handle another festival, up pop this pair with Previously: Scotland’s History Festival. Just a toddler compared with other festivals, last year’s was a roaring success with more than 270 events across two weeks. Expect much more of the same from this pair in autumn.

IAN MAXWELL and KIM HARDING

Ian, spokesman for Spokes, the Lothian cycle campaign group, and Kim, who represents Pedal on Parliament, are likely to be kept busy as the battle between two-wheels and four evolves into one that also involves the new trams.

With suggestions for a new cycle path cutting across The Mound, tram tracks and warnings from police that they will act against law-breaking cyclists, 2014 looks set to be another bumpy ride.

CAROLINE PACKMAN

Homecoming 2009 wasn’t exactly the major success it was meant to be, which could make Caroline Packman’s job as project director for Scotland’s Homecoming 2014 something of a challenge.

Still with £6m to play with and key events such as the Commonwealth Games, the Ryder Cup and the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn, surely nothing could go wrong. Could it?

ARTS, MUSIC, DRAMA

FERGUS LINEHAN

Former Sydney Festival boss Fergus Linehan will take the reins of the Edinburgh International Festival in October with the opportunity to shape the world-famous cultural showpiece as he wants it.

The Irish-born director has been hailed the Wizard of Oz after helping the Sydney Festival grow from £8m in 2004 to £13m within five years. He has been working on a part-time basis since being appointed last April and already has planned elements of the 2015 and 2016 Festivals.

He takes over from current director Jonathan Mills.

ECHO ARCADIA

The Edinburgh-based six-piece indie rockers signed a record deal with Spectra Records in 2013, now the countdown has begun to the release of their first album Beauty in an Average Life.

A gig to launch their debut album is planned for Sneaky Pete’s on February 8.

DELTA MAINLINE

The music industry requires staying power and determination – and Delta Mainline’s sterling efforts look like they are about to pay off. A few years of hard slog recently resulted in their debut album Oh! Enlightened and rave reviews.

Describing themselves as a seven-piece loud psychedelic rock ‘n’ roll/country band, they marked Christmas by released a free ten-track album via their Facebook page, available until January 6, while another album is due out later this year.

NINA NESBITT

She’s gone from strength to strength over the past year, while the oncoming release of her first album, Peroxide, and a nationwide tour to promote it, should see the singer-songwriter’s career flourish even further. She plays the Usher Hall on March 23.

JOHN GILLESPIE

River City fans have a new character to boo, fast-talking and slick lawyer Paul Malick, played by city actor John Gillespie.

Originally from West Calder, he’s done everything from work in a meat factory to sell vacuum cleaners door to door. Recently he’s appeared as Waterloo Road principal Mr Luke.

EMUN ELLIOTT

Portobello- raised actor Emun Elliott is becoming a familiar face on television screens in BBC period drama The Paradise, set in a late 19th century department store. 2014 will see him step up a gear, performing in Exodus, a Ridley Scott movie starring Sigourney Weaver and Christian Bale.

SASKIA ENG

Still just 12 years old, but Saskia Eng will be looking forward to another amazing year as her voice and talent grows and grows. The winner of Edinburgh Has Talent 2013 ended the year in style with a growing number of fans logging on to hear her on YouTube and music site Reverbnation.

ELEANOR MORTON

The 21-year-old’s clever brand of musical comedy – she sometimes brings her ukulele along – and stand-up chat, took her to a packed Edinburgh International Conference Centre comedy gig and earned 
her regular slots at The Stand last year.

She juggles her stand-up with university studies in English and Scottish Literature and is regarded as a rising star of the Scottish comedy scene.

CRAIG-JAMES MONCUR

Once on the small screen as Harry Hastings in CBBC’s Bafta-winning series Jeopardy, he now mostly operates on the other side of the camera.

He launched 33rd Degree Films two years ago and since then a series of his short films on YouTube have racked up thousands of hits.

Last year he scooped a couple of film festival awards, while his short film The Banker received acclaim at the prestigious Myrtle Beach International Film Festival.

The coming year sees him direct a new horror film, Skeletons, which he has also written.

POLITICS

IAN MURRAY

THE councillor-turned-MP added another string to his bow last year when he was appointed chair of would-be takeover group Foundation of Hearts.

The Edinburgh South politician could become chairman of his beloved Heart of Midlothian if a complicated liquidation hearing in Lithuania goes his way in February.

Murray successfully steered the club away from the brink of liquidation in November and could succeed disgraced former chairman Vladimir Romanov at the helm as part of a fan-led takeover.

KEZIA DUGDALE

Labour’s Kezia Dugdale has had a meteoric rise since being elected as a Lothian list MSP at the 2011 Holyrood elections. She was quickly identified as one of the rising stars among Labour’s new intake and last year Johann Lamont chose her for the vital education portfolio in her shadow cabinet reshuffle.

As Labour seeks to rebuild its credibility with the voters, good communicators such as Ms Dugdale will have a crucial role.

NEIL FINDLAY

Fellow Lothian Labour MSP Neil Findlay – also handed a top job in Ms Lamont’s reshuffle – is another politician to watch.

The former West Lothian councillor was not expecting to get elected to Holyrood at all, but the party’s loss of so many constituencies meant his number three slot on the regional list was enough to make him an MSP.

He is firmly on the left and has shown himself a forthright campaigner, ready to speak his mind and not afraid to take on government ministers.

With health issues constantly in the headlines, his role is guaranteed to make him a prominent political player in the coming year.

MAGGIE CHAPMAN

Look out for city councillor Maggie Chapman following her election as co-convener of the Scottish Greens alongside Glasgow MSP Patrick Harvie.

Councillor Chapman may not yet have a national profile and she will not have the parliamentary platform which Mr Harvie enjoys.

But she has shown at the council that she is prepared to speak out on controversial issues.

Her new role could offer an opportunity to put radical ideas more firmly on the agenda.

SPORT

ELISE CHRISTIE

The golden girl of speed skating, Livingston lass Elise is just weeks away from taking to the ice in the Sochi Winter Olympics, challenging in the 500m, 1000m and 1500m. Currently Team GB’s highest-ranked female short track skater on the world circuit, the 23-year-old recently achieved a world number one ranking in the 1000m following multiple medal successes in the 2012-13 World Cup and became the first British woman to win an individual World Championship medal. Hopes are running high that this year her haul will include at least one Olympic medal.

JASON CUMMINGS

Cummings burst on to the scene this season by scoring more than 20 goals for the Hibs under-20s side in the SPFL and the East of Scotland First Division.

The 18-year-old has already made his debut for the Hibs first team and is widely regarded as the next big thing to come out of East Mains. Quick, tricky and with an eye for goal, this young Scottish striker could well be a regular for the Hibees come 2014 and may force his way onto the Scotland under-21 set up.

SAM NICHOLSON

In a year of turbulence and change at Hearts, many youngsters have broken on to the scene at Tynecastle as administration grips the club.

Nicholson, an 18-year-old midfielder, made his first start for Gary Locke’s men in mid-December against Inverness and is regarded as a cultured, creative winger who can play on either flank. He’s known for scoring a free-kick or two, so keep an eye out for him when Hearts have dangerous set-plays.

JEN McINTOSH

Sharp-shot McIntosh, 22, became a double Commonwealth Games target-shooting champion in the 2010 Games in Delhi and she will look to defend one of those titles, the women’s 50m prone pifle event, in Glasgow 2014.

A professional target shooter, she is ranked number two in the official British Shooting Rankings for rifle, and number one for the three-position rifle and air rifle.

SALLY CONWAY

Conway is one of Scotland’s brightest hopes for a gold medal in judo at Glasgow 2014. The -70kg 1st Dan fighter enjoyed a successful 2013, which culminated in her becoming British champion – her seventh British senior title. Sally fought for Great Britain at the 2012 Olympics and she has been selected in the Scotland team for Glasgow which is dominated by colleagues from Scotland’s judo training base in Ratho.

MICHAEL LESLIE

The Bonnyrigg 20-year-old snooker player has had a difficult time competing against the elite of the baize in two years on the pro circuit, however recent results suggest he’s now finding his feet on the tour. As long as he retains his tour card for the 2014-15 season, this could be a huge year for the youngster as he sets about progressing further into the major tournaments.

KATIE ARCHIBALD

Track cycling starlet Katie Archibald is still a relative novice, barely two years after first donning the kit of Edinburgh Racers kids’ club to compete at the ageing Meadowbank Velodrome.

However, her aggressive racing style and natural ability saw her earn selection in 2013 for Great Britain. Team pursuit world records and gold medals followed at the European Championships and the World Cup. Now installed at the British Cycling Academy in Manchester, the 19-year-old remains a raw talent with bright prospects.

CRAIG McNALLY

Number one in the Commonwealth 200m backstroke, Craig will be one of Scotland’s top medal hopes in the pool in Glasgow. The Edinburgh 21-year-old won the 2013 British Championship in a Scottish record time and then went on to finish sixth on his World Championship debut in Barcelona in the summer. Now an established member of Team GB – he just missed out on the 2012 Olympics – his sights are set on Rio 2016.

DOUGIE FIFE

The powerfully built and pacey Edinburgh Rugby winger hopes to become the first former pupil of Firrhill High School to win a full Scotland rugby cap this year.

He entered 2014 seeking to better colleague Tim Visser’s record of scoring at least one try in four successive league matches, achieved in 2010. Scotland A internationalist Fife, 23, has notched consecutive league touchdowns against Ulster, Connacht, Leinster and Glasgow. He now has nine tries from his 36 appearances.

ALAN CLYNE

Squash ace Alan Clyne, 27, has been selected to play singles, men’s doubles and mixed in the Commonwealth Games. He went close to medalling in the previous Games and since then he’s won the New Zealand Open singles and rose to a career best world number 26 earlier this year.

sdick@edinburghnews.com