What we’re watching

Big Picture Show Recommends is your lockdown guide to great films that you can stream for free on platforms like BBC iPlayer, BFI, Channel 4 and of course films on the TV. We have also added in a couple that are available to rent or stream on subscription services. Since it’s Burns Night on Monday, we’re sharing our top picks of some ‘braw’* films from our neighbours up north.

*braw [adjective] Scottish: fine, good or pleasing


There is always plenty of free-to-watch on our BPS Recommends list. Some family, favourites, classics and films you may not have heard of, this time all with a Caledonian connection.

To kick things off, we’ll remind you that ‘Mrs Brown’, mentioned in the last ‘BPS Recommends’ is available on iPlayer for 24 days. The film, starring Billy Connolly and Judi Dench, recounts the relationship between Queen Victoria and Highlander John Brown.

Restless Natives (1985)

PG | 1h 30min | Comedy, Crime 

Two teenagers sitting on gravestones talking

Starting off with a weird and wonderful film you’ve maybe never heard of. When two Scottish friends start holding up tour buses with novelty items, they wind up becoming local folk heroes and tourist attractions. A gentle Scottish comedy that’s ‘inescapably ’80s’ (EMPIRE) with a soundtrack by Big Country and plenty of sweeping shots of the Highlands.

Director: Michael Hoffman 
Stars: Vincent Friell, Ned Beatty, Joe Mullaney 

Broadcast on Saturday 30th January at 9PM on BBC Scotland and available afterwards on BBCiPlayer
Watch the trailer.

Hector (2015)

15 | 1h 27min | Drama 

Hec McAdam has been living rough for years. The film follows his annual pilgrimage from Scotland to a shelter in London to be with his temporary Christmas family, where he is compelled to try to reconnect with his real family he last saw 15 years before. 

“Real, raw, but somehow warms your insides” James Mottram, Marie Claire

Director: Jake Gavin
Stars: Peter Mullan, Keith Allen, Natalie Gavin

Available to watch on BBC iPlayer for the rest of the year
Watch the trailer for Hector

Shrek 2 (2004)

PG |1h33m | Adventure, Comedy  

Shrek 2 poster with Shrek, Fiona, Donkey & Puss in Boots standing in front of a castle and 'far far away' sign.

We know the Scots connection is a little tenuous. But somehow, Shrek has become an iconic Scottish voice the world over.

In this animated sequel, Shrek and princess Fiona travel to the Kingdom of Far Far Away to celebrate their marriage, but they find they are not as welcome as they thought they would be. 

Directors: Andrew Adamson, Kelly Asbury, Conrad Vernon
Stars: Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz 

Watch on ITV 2 at 5:05PM on Saturday 23rd January.


 Approved | 1h 20min | Comedy, Crime  

Two men in amongst whisky boxes. From Whisky Galore

1943. When the whisky runs out on the Hebridean island of Todday, residents attempt to plunder a stranded ship carrying 50,000 cases of the stuff. An all time classic that sees the islanders clash with authority.

Once you’ve seen this, keep an eye out for the more recent version starring Eddie Izzard as Home Guard commander Captain Waggett.

Director: Alexander Mackendrick
Stars: Basil Radford, Joan Greenwood, Catherine Lacey

Available until 13th February on BBC iPlayer

The Take (2016)

R | 1h 32min | Action, Crime, Drama 

Richard Madden & Idris Elba in a car.

Although this film is American, it stars Glaswegian actor Richard Madden (BBC drama ‘The Bodyguard’ and ‘Game of Thrones’) who is quickly becoming one of Scotland’s most popular exports around the globe.

A young pickpocket and an unruly CIA agent team up on an anti-terrorist mission in France. 

Director: James Watkins 
Stars: Idris Elba, Richard Madden, Charlotte Le Bon

Watch on Film 4 at 9PM on Sunday 24th January.

Not for the faint hearted

Something a bit different for Big Picture Show Recommends. Both with very strong language throughout, themes of drugs, violence and crime, we recommend with a warning. If this doesn’t deter you, then you’re in for watching two highly revered films.


18 / R | 1h 33min | Drama

Still from Trainspotting. A group of four: two drinking and Ewan McGregor smiling.

A cult classic. Renton, deeply immersed in the Edinburgh drug scene, tries to clean up and get out, despite the allure of the drugs and influence of friends.

“unapolagetic and hard hitting”
Radio Times

Director: Danny Boyle
Stars: Ewan McGregor, Ewen Bremner, Jonny Lee Miller

Available until 26th January on Channel 4 on Demand


18 / R | 1h 46min | Crime, Drama 

Martin Compston and another actor in baseball caps walking near houses.

Ken Loach’s award-winning drama stars Martin Compston as teenager determined to start afresh with his mother once she gets out of prison. 

“an all-too-credible portrait of modern-day Britain” Empire

Director: Ken Loach
Stars: Martin Compston, Michelle Coulter, Annmarie Fulton

Available until 16th February on Channel 4 on Demand

Subscription & To Rent

Mary Queen of Scots (2018)

18 / R | 2h 4min | Biography, Drama, History 

Golden Mary Queen of Scots Poster with both actors. 'Bow to No One'

Mary Stuart’s attempt to overthrow her cousin Elizabeth I, Queen of England, finds her condemned to years of imprisonment before facing execution.

★★★★ Mark Kermode, The Guardian

Director: Josie Rourke 
Stars: Saoirse Ronan, Margot Robbie, Jack Lowden 

Available on Netflix.


PG | 1h 51min | Comedy, Drama

Local Hero poster with an illustration of two men in suits on a beach. Text: A beautiful coastline...A rich oil man wants to develop it. A poor beach bum wants to live on it. An entire town wants to profit by it. And a real-live mermaid wants to save it... Only one of them will get their way.

An American oil company sends a man to buy up an entire Scottish village where they want to build a refinery. But things don’t go as expected. Wonderful scenery and a great music accompany this well observed, life-affirming tale.

‘a love poem to Scotland’ The Guardian

Director: Bill Forsyth
Stars: Burt Lancaster, Peter Riegert, Fulton Mackay 

Available to rent on BFI player and Amazon Prime

EDIE (2017)

PG | 1h 51min | Comedy, Drama

Sheila Hancock smiling in a dirty red rain coat and blue rucksack with blue sky behind her.

At 83, Edie packs an old camping bag, and leaves her life behind to embark on an adventure she never got to have – climbing Mount Suilven.

For those of you who dream of travelling – this film is full of breathtaking scenery of the Scottish Highlands.

Director: Simon Hunter
Stars: Sheila Hancock, Kevin Guthrie, Paul Brannigan

Available to rent on BFI Player or Amazon Prime.


PG | 1h40 | Family, Adventure, Animation

Merida telling a story to the triplets and the king. They all have curly red hair and are wearing green as they sit at a table with iced buns on it.

One for all the family – a glorious animation with fiery characters and beautiful landscapes. Determined to make her own path in life, Princess Merida defies a custom that brings chaos to her kingdom. Granted one wish, Merida must rely on her bravery and her archery skills to undo a beastly curse. 

Directors: Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman |Steve Purcell (co-director) 
Stars: Kelly Macdonald, Billy Connolly, Emma Thompson

Available to stream on Disney +

What we’re watching on TV


G* | 22min | Comedy, Drama

David Tenant and Michael Sheen on a video call to each other.
(C) GCB Films/Infinity Hill

David Tennant and Michael Sheen star as two actors whose play has been put on hold due to Covid-19, but their director has persuaded them to carry on rehearsing online. Incredibly watchable, you’ll wonder why it hasn’t been done before!

Creators: Simon Evans, Phin Glynn 
Stars: David Tennant, Michael Sheen, Georgia Tennant

*Strong language from the start

Available to watch on BBC iPlayer
Series 1 (available until June) Series 2 (available until end of the year) 

It’s been a Pleasure

G* | 1h 15min| Drama 

Billy Connolly now
Billy Connolly performing as a younger man.

A tribute to Sir Billy Connolly who recently announced his retirement from stand-up comedy after 50+ years. This special will look back The Big Yin’s illustrious comedy career in conversations with Billy and fans like Paul McCartney and Elton John.

*Strong language from the start

Available on ITV Player.

Wild Card

Sunshine on Leith

PG | 1h 40min | Comedy, Drama, Musical 

A man in a kilt is singing and being held up by a crowd as a band plays on the stage.

Alright, so Musicals week has been and gone, but we couldn’t resist throwing in this wonderfully uplifting, feel-good, Scottish musical, featuring all the best songs from The Proclaimers. The story follows Davy and Ally on their return from the army, their relationships and family life. As it features in Scots Magazine’s top 10 Scottish films alongside Local Hero, Whisky Galore and Trainspotting, it seemed rude not to include it.

‘the best advert for Edinburgh ever made . . . no-one can watch this film and not want to go to sing Proclaimers’ songs and go to Edinburgh – now!’ Scots Magazine

Directors:  Dexter Fletcher
Stars: Paul Brannigan, George MacKay, Kevin Guthrie 

Available to rent on YouTube and Amazon Prime

Start watching

With so many great films, it’s about time we start watching, if we want to get through the list. Follow Live & Local Film Schemes on Facebook and Twitter for regular film recommendations and be sure to subscribe to the Live & Local blog for updates across the organisation.

Let us know which films you’ll be watching in the comments and don’t forget to tell us what you think of them.

Streaming Films Online

Many of the films on BBC iPlayer and 4oD offer subtitles and audio description.
For a handy guide on getting setting up and using BBC iPlayer on your smart TV click here.

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