New 'Hebridean Mermaid' film to showcase St Kilda like never before
It is the celebrated Scottish World Heritage Site that has not had any permanent residents for more than 90 years.
Now the enviroment and wildlife of St Kilda, the cluster of isolated islands 41 miles off the Outer Hebrides, is set to be showcased liked never before – thanks to Scotland’s “real-life mermaid.”
Kate Macleod, a wild water swimmer who found fame with her custom-made flipper when she was given her own TV series set on the west coast of Lewis, is starring in new instalment charting an epic trip to Scotland’s most westerly outpost.
The Hogmanay special of “Mermaid Tales” on BBC ALBA will see Macleod, 25, who gets her tails made in Hawaii, explore above and below water on and around the islands of Hirta, Dùn, Boreray and Soay.
Macleod, an editor with production company MacTV, which secured a commission from BBC ALBA for a show set in her natural habitat, is also working on a second series of Mermaid Tales, to be shown next year.
Macleod, who has named herself the “Hebridean Mermaid” on her social media channels, said: “I’ve always been really intrigued by sea creatures and mermaids.
"I was always in or on the sea, so it felt only natural to buy a monofin. I absolutely fell in love it it.
"I had been put off getting a tail, which is like a skin which goes over the monofin, for years, because I knew it was a bit weird, but eventually caved in and got one custom-made.
"I actually kept it secret for another couple of years until I shared a couple of photos with family and friends. The reaction was a lot more positive than I thought it would be. I just absolutely adore it.
“The series came about after one of my colleagues phoned me up and said: ‘We've had this idea. Would you be interested?
“I was coming to that point in life where you realise you have to take every opportunity that comes your way.
"It was pretty surreal, as I never, ever wanted to be in front of a camera.
“But the first day of filming was absolutely amazing. We knew we were making something incredible and I loved every minute of it.
“The attention it got was absolutely mind-blowing. I just didn't see it coming.
"It really captured the imagination. It was shown at a time when a lot of people were getting into wild swimming and people were also really open-minded about the whole mermaid thing.”
The Hogmanay show, which goes out at 9pm, follows Macleod and her father Murray – whose boat company runs trips to St Kilda – as she seeks out whales, dolphins and other sea creatures, encounters gannets, mice and sheep, and explores evidence left behind after 4000 years of human occupation.
Macleod added: "I’d been to St Kilda a few times before, including a Duke of Edinburgh expedition, when we had to stay inside one of the old houses for days after the weather closed in.
“When we were making the first series we wanted to show things that people wouldn’t normally see and tell stories that people don’t really know. We’ve done the same with St Kilda.
"We were there for five days in September and filmed all day, every day.
"I’ve never experienced anything like it. Everywhere I swam there was completely different.”