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Catriona Lexy Campbell

BBC ALBA is delving into the covert sexual history of the Gaelic language and its speakers in a new Trusadh documentary.

Feise ann an Gàidhlig | Sex in Gaelic explores the way sex has been perceived in Gaelic literature, poetry, music and customs across the centuries – studying language which has never been discussed on Gaelic TV.

Airing on Monday 20 May at 10pm, the historic relationship between sex and the Gael will be uncovered with the help of artistic and academic experts.

Directed and presented by Scottish writer, Catriona Lexy Campbell, the 60-minute documentary will take audiences on a trip across Scotland to discover the Gaels who helped shape – or dispel - wider societal perceptions of and attitudes to sex. 

At the University of St Andrews, Catriona meets Peter Mackay, co-author of The Little Blue Book - the first collection of ‘obscene and transgressive’ Gaelic poetry. Together they discuss the oldest erotic verse in the Gaelic language and learn about the colourful characters who wrote them.

In the Isle of Skye Catriona meets singer and folklorist, Anne Martin, to learn about how women dealt with sex and risk – through song.

In Inverness-shire, acclaimed author Sarah Fraser tells the story of Alexander Macdonald, one of the most renowned Gaelic poets who - thanks to some of his more expressive verses - is also one of the most censored.

Catriona said: “For the first time, we are uncovering language that hasn’t been discussed on Gaelic television before. Though there is sometimes the view that the Gaels are particularly reserved people when it comes to discussing emotions or sexuality, when we look closely at this historic literature, that’s not really the case.

“There is clear evidence of people being more expressive about sex than was previously thought. That’s why we’re putting a spotlight on understanding and preserving the explicit, and sometimes downright obscene, language used throughout our history.”

The documentary also looks at changes in attitudes towards individuals’ sexuality. Catriona reflects on how the past has impacted modern attitudes and even uncovered new connections. 

Feise ann an Gàidhlig | Sex in Gaelic premières on BBC ALBA and BBC iPlayer on Monday 20 May at 10pm (in Gaelic with English subtitles).

Watch live or on demand: www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m001zh25.