Murder. Crime. Poverty.

Someone I met when I was down in Londonshire last week asked me where I was from. On receiving my reply, he pulled a face.

“It’s a great city,” I spluttered, more out of petulance than anything else.

“All I know about it is murder, crime and poverty,” was the response.

Now, we all know about Glasgow’s glories. The art, the Mackintosh, the sense of humour, the museums, the buildings, the people, the leafy West End and all the rest. (Well, almost all the rest). The trouble is, there is a smidgen of truth in the negative stereotype.

But how, I wondered, has this smidgen become the international reputation of the second city of Empire?

When I was dozing on the sleeper coming home I found myself wondering if it is all down to a TV show. Could it really be that all the energy of the Glasgow’s Miles Better campaign has been underminded by years of Taggart?

I suspect it has.

Theres just as many murders in Morse or Lewis or Midsommer. But they take place in pretty surroundings.

You don’t get many murders in the Kelvingrove Art Gallery in Taggart now, do you?

It must have cost the city millions.


  1. Stewart Stevenson says

    Maybe you should look at some social statistics, or look beyond the West End. The smidgen of truth is actually a shocking reality. Glasgow has far more murders than other cities – the murder rate is 5 times higher than England and Wales and double London’s. Outside the museum district – Glasgow has the highest deprivation levels in the UK – only comparable with Belfast. It’s not Taggart – unfortunately it is a correct and appropriate analysis. See:

    Bit of an odd post for a Glasgow priest.

  2. I am not surprised to hear that Taggart has a great influence as it is difficult to distinguish between fact and fiction these days, just look at the murders that are in the news in the past few weeks. We in Glasgow see London as bad as us with its gangland culture, riots and street crime, however if we are all frightened by all this why are Glasgow and London the most popular destinations with airlines in Europe.

  3. @Stewart

    Define “museum district”. The charmingly effete (yet sadly student-riddled) West End is indeed different from Glasgow per se, but I think one could argue that taking Maryhill, Drumchapel, Easterhoose or the other “worse than Baghdad” enclaves as synedoche for Glasgow itself is quite as spurious.

    It’s logical that big cities should have more of everything, even if that, sadly, means more murder. I think Jay-Z’s “I’m from the murder capital, where ****** murder for capital” and his now-iconic tribute to New York are two sides of the same coin. And good enough for NYC.. 😉

  4. Thank you for tactfully refraining from pointing out that the ugly locations in Taggart are buildings of my former employer, the University of Strathclyde.

  5. Is Taggart not also famous for having routes (i.e. from the polis station, to the murder, to the suspect’s flat) that make no sense if only actually tried to map them on Glasgow? Clearly, the producers largely went with the most stereotypically deprived, city central and most impressively architectural bits of the city – and I’d say it was a compliment, not an insult, if one’s location fell into the latter two categories! Sounds like a money-making, touristy opportunity that The University of Glasgow (very uncharacteristically) missed out on 😉

    Also worth noting that Taggart was at its most iconic when it actually involved, er, Taggart and McManus died in 1995. It’s highly unlikely that Glasgow’s reputation has been besmirched by syndication of subsequent episodes, which had all the relevance and world-wide water cooler impact of post-Jimmy Smits NYPD Blue.

    Taggart does deserve some props for attempted inclusiveness too – I can’t recall a gay-themed episode featuring a leading character from when I was still at school (back in the days before the repeal of Section 28 when the Scottish popular press were horrendously backwards and homophobic). They were, in contrast, prone to stereotypical stories on geeks etc but that’s true of most mainstream crime programmes (if a character in an episode of one of those awful CSI programmes collects comics, you can be sure that he’s the murderer)

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