From Harry Potter, The Muppets, Legoland and Boris Johnson to shaking up the Tattoo

His globe-trotting CV includes Harry Potter, The Muppets, Legoland and Boris Johnson.

Monday, 29th November 2021, 5:07 pm
Updated Monday, 29th November 2021, 5:41 pm
Michael Braithwaite is masterminding the return of the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo next year.
Michael Braithwaite is masterminding the return of the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo next year.

Now Michael Braithwaite is charged with attracting a whole new audience to one of Scotland's most iconic events when it finally emerges from the pandemic.

The New Zealand-born events guru has promised plenty of surprises are in store for audiences expected to pack into Edinburgh Castle esplanade when the event unfolds for the first time in three years next August.

It will not only be pitched at a more UK-based audience than before, but will be aimed at attracting a much younger market, have a much broader “musical palette” than before and boast an array of new effects.

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Around 220,000 people attend the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo each year.

But he insists he is overseeing an evolution rather than a revolution of an event valued at more than £77 million for the economy.

Mr Braithwaite was brought in help to revamp the Tattoo several months after Major General Buster Howes was appointed chief executive.

He was previously responsible for live shows in attractions and resorts run by Merlin Entertainments, and worked on films in the Harry Potter franchise and at Jim Henson’s Creatures Shop, the special effects company which The Muppets creator set up in 1979. During the 2012 Olympics, he was a senior producer of then London mayor Boris Johnson’s cultural festival.

Mr Braithwaite, the first New Zealander and first non-military figure to direct the Tattoo, said: “We’ll be building on the wonderful legacy that the Tattoo has established over the last 70s years and taking that into the next chapter of its life.

“It will still have all the key things people expect, including the massed pipes and drums, our military bands and our own in-house musicians and dancers.

“But they’ll also get a lot of surprises and innovations as well as we take it forward ino a new era.

“As with all art forms, you’re either going forward or backwards. We’re very much about going forwards, taking that legacy and its DNA, and asking: ‘What do can we do to make the show fresh and exciting?’

"We’ll be building on what’s been there before, but evolving the Tattoo into a modern area.

"We hope it’ll appeal to our traditional supporters who have attended in the past, but we’re also looking to widen our reach, particularly with younger audiences.

"Our audiences tend to be more mature. We’re recognising that a lot of our performers have been much younger than the audiences they’ve been playing to.

"We want to create a contemporary freshness to the way we present the music.”

New sound and lighting systems are will be deployed to transform the castle and – for the first time – the esplanade itself.

Mr Braithwaite added: "We want to spread a sense of immersion, so the show isn’t just happening in front of you, but around and above you.

“The Tattoo will still be the wonderful, iconic event that it’s been. The location is such a huge part of what makes it. The castle will still be there. We’ll still be coming across the drawbridge en masse.

"It’ll be an evolution of what’s come before rather than dramatic change.

“People who have never been before should give us a try – they’ll be surprised at how much is in there, over and above what they might expect.”