Will Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo be the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo if it loses its 'shortbread'? – John McLellan

Yeeeee-uugh! There’s nothing quite like the sight of the massed pipes and drums leaving the Castle esplanade to the sound of the Black Bear retreat, sadly something we have not seen or heard for two years now.

Wednesday, 20th October 2021, 4:45 pm
John McLellan fears the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo could lose some of the features that made it a global success (Picture: Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)

I’ve been to more Tattoos than I care to remember, and the lone piper and the massed bands always do it for me, so it was with some concern that I read of the proposed revamp of the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo with a “bold, refreshed approach” when it returns next August.

Pre-pandemic, the Tattoo was not an event in difficulty; over 200,000 tickets sold out well in advance, an international TV audience of up to 300 million and £100m generated for the local economy.

Over £5m was lost as a result of the 2020 closure and the continued problems with the re-opening of international tourism may mean a new offer to a local audience is needed.

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Its audience is undoubtedly at the upper end of the age scale and perhaps research indicates a looming decline if younger people weren’t attracted.

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One way or another, the so-called shortbread tin image of Scotland is internationally marketable and while there is always room for improvement to any show, too much tinkering would risk killing the golden egg layer at a time when it will be needed the most.

Some elements of the show, like battle re-enactments and the corny commentary are up for grabs, but there are some aspects without which it simply wouldn’t be the same. Above all, it’s a show about heritage, not a rock concert.

John McLellan is a Conservative councillor for Craigentinny/Duddingston

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