Best of a decade: Timeline

  • The List
  • 2 December 2009
Best of a decade: Timeline

From devolution to Susan Boyle, Harry Potter to Carol Ann Duffy, the most important moments in a decade of Scottish culture are all listed here


July Scottish Parliament opens, with Labour candidate Donald Dewar elected as the first First Minister ahead of SNP rival Alex Salmond. Dewar died suddenly in October 2000, following a fall at his Edinburgh residence.


June Biffy Clyro release first EP, ‘thekidswhopoptodaywillrocktomorrow’ on Stow College’s Electric Honey label. It includes the tracks ‘justboy’ and ‘57’, which will later become fan favourites.

July Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire, the fourth in the series, is published. It breaks publishing records in the UK and US, selling nearly three million copies in its opening weekend. The series goes on to sell an estimated 230 million books throughout the decade.


January Martin Wishart gains Leith’s first Michelin star. This paves the way for other Edinburgh restaurants, such as Plumed Horse, The Kitchin and Number One at The Balmoral, to achieve stars later in the decade.

April Lee Scratch Perry, Teenage Fanclub and Jarvis Cocker are included in the line-up for the first Triptych festival, which takes place over three days in various venues in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen.

June Alisdair Gray, James Kelman and Tom Leonard are selected for joint chair of Glasgow University’s Creative Writing MLitt. During their tenure, authors including Laura Marney, Zoe Strachan, Rachel Seiffert, Louise Welsh and Jason Donald study there.


August The Cutting Room by Louise Welsh is published. It is met with high critical praise, and credited with bringing a literary edge into crime fiction.

October Ashley Page leaves The Royal Ballet to take over as artistic director at Scottish Ballet. After a nine-month break in which he re-auditions and retrains the company, they return to the stage on form, with a programme including Page’s own Lying, Cheating, Stealing.

November Glasgow’s clubbing scene is euphoric as Death Disco is born at the newly re-launched Arches and Sub Club re-opens after three years’ closure due to fire …

December … But Edinburgh is dealt a blow as nightclub La Belle Angele, comedy venue The Gilded Balloon and the Bridge Jazz Bar perish in the Cowgate fire that destroys part of the Old Town.


June Rosie Kane, Socialist MSP for Glasgow, calls on the Scottish Parliament to condemn use of the word ‘ned’, claiming it is hurtful and disrespectful to young people.

September Ewan McGregor, Peter Mullan and Tilda Swinton star in the film adaptation of Alexander Trocchi’s Young Adam, written and directed by David MacKenzie. ‘A flawless and coherent adaptation of a dark and disturbing tale’ – The List, 18 Sep, 2003.


January Gordon Ramsay’s Amaryllis restaurant closes three years after opening. The closure follows the death the previous year of Michelin-starred head chef David Dempsey, alleviating Glasgow of its only Michelin star. Glasgow has not had a Michelin star since.

July The National Theatre for Scotland is founded as part of the Scottish Executive’s National Cultural Strategy. Notable productions in coming years include Black Watch, Peer Gynt, The Bacchae and Tutti Frutti.

August Anthony Neilson’s The Wonderful World Of Dissocia opens at the Edinburgh International Festival. Neilson wins Best New Play and Best Director at the Critics’ Awards for Theatre in Scotland, and star Christine Entwisle wins Best Female Performance.

October Amid much controversy concerning its £414m price tag, three-year delay and general appearance, Enric Miralles’ Scottish Parliament building opens. Despite winning the Riba Stirling prize for architecture, viewers of Channel 4’s Demolition voted it the building they’d most like to see torn down.


April Bathgate-born David Tennant is announced as the tenth Doctor Who. He also continues to receive praise for his theatrical work, winning Best Male Performance at the Critics’ Awards in June for his role as Jimmy in Look Back In Anger.

June Frankie Boyle appears on the first episode of Mock The Week, and continues to do so for four years despite various controversies, including jokes about Michael Jackson, Iraq war veterans and the Queen’s unmentionable bits.

July With the G8 meetings taking place in Edinburgh, nearly a quarter of a million people participate in the Make Poverty History rally. The Proclaimers, Midge Ure, Travis and Snow Patrol are among musical artists who show their support at the Live8 concert four days later.

December Former Glasgow School of Art student Simon Starling wins the Turner Prize. His exhibition includes the piece ‘shedboatshed’, in which he turned a shed into a boat, paddled it down the Rhine, then reassembled it at a museum in Basel.


March The smoking ban is introduced, despite fears that it could damage business in pubs and clubs. Some later blame the ban as the cause of increasing numbers of pub and bar closures, although more non-smokers are said to be going out as a result of it.

June The Venue closes in Edinburgh. Over 24 years the 400-capacity gig venue had hosted such bands as Radiohead, R.E.M., Muse and The Strokes, as well as countless Scottish bands.

September Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait is released. The film, directed by Douglas Gordon and scored by Mogwai, features Zidane fighting with other players and receiving a red card, recalling memories of his infamous head-butt during the World Cup final against Italy earlier in the year.

October Andrea Arnold’s Glasgow-set film Red Road is released to critical acclaim, winning the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival. Arnold’s second film, Fish Tank, does the same in 2009. ‘Absolutely stunning’ – The List, 10 Oct, 2006.


January James McAvoy stars in Kevin Macdonald’s The Last King Of Scotland, about the brutal regime of Ugandan dictator Idi Amin. McAvoy goes on to star in Atonement and Wanted.

April A. L. Kennedy’s Day is published. It wins the Costa Book Of The Year award and, the following year, the Austrian State Prize For European Literature. ‘There is something in Kennedy’s prose which is somehow cumulatively impressive, as if by the end, the sheer weight of words makes you care what happens’ – The List, 26 Mar, 2007.

June Glasgow Airport is the subject of a terrorist attack. Baggage handler John Smeaton is regarded as a national hero after attacking one of the terrorists and helping another man to safety, later issuing a statement that ‘Glasgow doesn’t accept this. This is Glasgow; we’ll set aboot ye.’ A Fringe show, a newspaper column and a political career follow.

September After 17 books in 20 years, Ian Rankin retires Inspector Rebus in Exit Music (although he admits there may be more Rebus in the future). The book immediately tops the Sunday Times bestseller list.

September Canongate Books build on the success of 2001’s Booker Prize-winning Life Of Pi by publishing Barack Obama’s Dreams Of My Father, having acquired the rights while Obama was still regarded as an unlikely presidential candidate.

August Edinburgh-born Chris Hoy becomes first UK Olympian for 100 years to claim three gold medals at one games in the Beijing Olympics. He is awarded an MBE at the end of the year.

September Glasvegas release debut album Glasvegas. They are nominated for the Mercury Prize, Best New Act at the Q awards, and win the NME’s Philip Hall Radar Award.


April Susan Boyle appears on Britain’s Got Talent. Despite finishing second in the competition, she gains worldwide fame, achieving more YouTube views than President Obama’s inauguration.

June Carol Ann Duffy is named Poet Laureate. She is the first Scot, the first female, and the first homosexual to be awarded the post.

August Booker Prize-winner James Kelman slams the current state of Scottish literature, criticising the celebration of ‘fucking detective fiction, or else some kind of child writer’, in swipes at Ian Rankin and J. K. Rowling.


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