What to expect from BBC Scotland's Hearts documentary ahead of Monday's first episode
The three-part series, titled This Is Our Story: Inside Hearts, tells the tale of a unique year at Tynecastle Park during the 2019/20 season.
Cameras go behind the scenes to capture the final weeks of former manager Craig Levein’s tenure, owner Ann Budge’s hunt for his successor, the brief Daniel Stendel era and the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, including a court battle after relegation.
Produced for the BBC by Glasgow-based Two Rivers Media, it also shows various departments including groundstaff, media and retail.
The initial attraction for the series centred around the planned change of ownership to fan group Foundation of Hearts. What ensued was something totally unprecedented.
The producer’s insight
Mick McAvoy, executive producer of the series, told the Evening News: “I previously made a documentary with the Scottish rugby team so I knew this sort of thing could be really fascinating.
“When you see the Sunderland and Man City programmes coming out, there was a lot of talk of who could be a good team to cover in Scotland.
“We approached Hearts because they were about to become Scotland’s biggest fan-owned football club. Their women’s team were also getting more integrated into the club.
“Ann Budge is also a fascinating person. She is a female football club owner trying to build a fan-owned business and is very much a woman in a man’s world. All of those elements made it intriguing. You also want a team with a big fanbase.
“Everybody at Hearts was really open and Ann was true to her word throughout. I’m sure there were moments – when they were facing problems with management, on the pitch, finances and the pandemic – where they wished the TV crew weren’t there.
“They made an agreement and Ann stuck to it.
“The ambition was to look at a football club as a business. It’s not just on the pitch, it’s how do you make money from hospitality, transfer windows, broadcast rights?
“What was happening on the field became such a big story as the season evolved. Hearts went through three managers and then a pandemic.
“Filming safely during a pandemic and not losing track of events unfolding in courts, at Hampden and Tynecastle was a challenge.
“We planned for an observational documentary about a football club during an intriguing year as they did something different.
“What it became was an observational documentary following a really big club as it goes through a number of stresses and strains that you couldn’t have planned for.”
No holds barred
Honesty is one of the programme’s key highlights, as McAvoy explained.
“Craig Levein’s emotion about how tough it was being sacked from a job he loved is something many fans won’t have seen,” he added.
“In the second episode, Daniel Stendel arrives at Tynecastle and in many ways he feels like a man from another planet.
“The results still aren’t running for them when they are hit by the pandemic. We see how the club react, which is quite dramatic. It became an existential crisis for Hearts.
"In programme three, you get an inside look at the biggest story in Scottish football over the summer. They were under all these stresses and strains whilst we were in lockdown.”