The Street reveals grim 'reality' of life in the city

THE media spotlight has been thrown on one of Glasgow's best known streets - and been met by a storm of protest.

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The film showed a racist assault and the difficutlies faced by bar and restaurant workers
The film showed a racist assault and the difficutlies faced by bar and restaurant workers

Sauchiehall Street is the subject of a new BBC Scotland documentary 'The Street', which launched on Monday.

The programme - which follows a mix of 'residents' of the street, including buskers, bar staff and shop workers - has been met with some strong criticism.

Monday night's opening programme followed Nick, the owner of restaurant 'Taste' as he struggled to work with his new apprentice, and mall boss Jim, who battled to keep the Savoy Centre open on Sundays.

However, viewers were left shocked by the story of African busker Melo, who was racially abused and assaulted on camera.

The three-part documentary was produced by Friel Kean Films, who notably worked on controversial documentary 'The Scheme'.

Stuart Patrick, the chief executive of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, admitted the shocking images of Melo defending himself on screen do not show Glasgow in a positive light.

He said: "I was geared up for a gritty insight into the far fringes of city life, reinforcing stereotypes and prejudices alike.

"I wasn't disappointed, but not exactly in the way I had expected.

"It was Melo that brought into sharp focus a feature of our city we cannot ignore or even pass off lightly.

"For plainly on camera with a shocking, blatant lack of shame, we were shown that racism is alive and dispiritingly well in Glasgow."

However, Mr Patrick also defended the bustling street, and insisted that changes can be made to help Glasgow prosper.

He said: "Finding out that the team that brought us The Scheme had decided its next topic was to be one of Glasgow's prime city centre streets didn't exactly fill me with hope and joy.

"As a representative of the business community in Glasgow, we pitch, day in, day out, to bring business, investment and talent to the city.

"To succeed as an economy we must have the ability to appeal to every country and to every culture, and racism is an obstacle to a successful economy, to a thriving city."

Sauchiehall Street is one of the city centre's busiest streets, with thousands of people flooding the area at weekends to take advantage of its many shops, bars, clubs and restaurants.

Billy Brown, a busker based in the city centre, knew Melo and often saw him playing all over Glasgow.

He admitted he was not surprised to see the drama of the assault shown on screen.

The 50-year-old said: "I knew Melo, so it was strange to see him on TV.

"I wasn't surprised to see the assault left in the programme, they put anything on TV that they think will boost ratings.

"I think Sauchiehall Street is alright.

"But there's definitely money in these types of programmes - that's why they do it."

The next instalment of the programme will be screened on BBC One next Monday at 10.35pm.

mark.pirrie@eveningtimes.co.uk

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