Kelso writer lifts lid on one of Scotland’s biggest annual events

Kelso's Alasdair Hutton at Edinburgh's Royal  Military Tattoo.
Kelso's Alasdair Hutton at Edinburgh's Royal Military Tattoo.
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Kelso writer Alasdair Hutton lifts the lid on what goes on behind the scenes at the annual Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo in a new book.

Titled The Greatest Show on Earth, it offers an insider’s perspective on all the tattoos the 76-year-old has narrated for in Edinburgh and elsewhere around Britain and abroad over the last quarter of a century.

“They have all been great fun to do, even though there have been nerve-wracking moments, as well as moments of sublime entertainment,” he said.

Alasdair had never presented a big show before he was asked to take on the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo for the first time in 1992 by Michael Parker, the producer of the event at that time.

“A Territorial Army officer called Alasdair Hutton was suggested. He had a splendid voice and was fun, which fitted the job description perfectly,” recalled Sir Michael.

London-born Alasdair, president of Royal British Legion Scotland’s Kelso branch, had been a BBC radio announcer and was also an officer with the Scottish TA battalion of the Parachute Regiment when he landed the job.

Now he is the most experienced tattoo presenter in the world, with more than 750 individual, full-length events on his CV.

“In the book, I have tried to remind people of the shows and the performers they have seen and tell a little of what it has looked like from behind the microphone,” he said.

“I hope the shows have always flowed smoothly and apparently effortlessly for the audiences, no matter what may be happening out of sight.”

“What is remarkable is how little goes wrong.

“In the case of Edinburgh, I am sure that is because of thorough planning and solid rehearsals to make sure that we go on presenting the greatest show on earth here in Scotland year after year.”

The Greatest Show on Earth is published by Luath Press in hardback, priced £24.99, and paperback, for £10 less.

Alasdair, a Scottish Borders councillor for Kelso from 2002 to 2012 and MEP for the south of Scotland from 1979 to 1989, has written three previous books – an anecdotal history of his TA battalion in 1997 titled 15 Para 1947-1993 and two children’s stories, The Tattoo Fox in 2013 and The Tattoo Fox Makes New Friends the year after.