Telly Savalas looks at Aberdeen

Registered: 22nd December 1981
Duration: 25 minutes
Feet: 2250 feet
Board of Trade Certificate number: ​BR/E41017/27/12/86
Produced for: Columbia-EMI-Warner
Production Company: Harold Baim Film Productions

More Film Stills: ​at baimfilms.com (opens in new window)
Stream Online: at vimeo (password required)

In 1981 Harold Baim must have been well aware that the requirement for cinema shorts was coming to an end. Baim was 68 when he made three half hour films, one on Birmingham, the other two on Portsmouth and Aberdeen. It was while he was making the last of the three, Aberdeen, he secured the talents of Telly Savalas to read the scripts. Savalas recorded the three scripts over two days at a studio of De Wolfe Music in London. 

Title and Credits:
Telly Savalas looks at Aberdeen

Photography:  Bill Paterson
Edited by: David E Naughton
Recorded by:​ ​Derek McColm, Trevor Barber, Robert Poole
Music by: De Wolfe
Written and Directed by: Harold Baim


Rob Roy overlooks a stream in a country fiercely proud of its history, where books and plays can still be read in local dialect.

When you make it to a bank and be given bills issued by individual banking houses.

When in an Aberdeen hotel you may be introduced to; haggis, which, believe me, is delicious; porridge made with Scots oats; herring, kippered in Scotland; trout and salmon from the country's magnificent rivers; Aberdeen Angus beef ; high tea, almost a ritual; and the other scotch broth from distilleries using the pure waters of the region, making scotch the best there is.

They gave us golf, and spectacular regiments like the Gordon Highlanders, raised in 1794 by the fourth Duke of Gordon.

Distinctive kilts are worn by the four Highland Regiments; the Gordon tartan kilt, the Black Watch, Queen's own Highlanders, the Argyll and Sutherlands.

Under the care of the Scottish National Trust, is Haddo House, home of the fourth Duke who raised the regiment, and Lady Aberdeen arranges superb concerts in this great house.

He tries his luck in the River Dee. The Dee and the Don flow through this, one of Britain's most northerly cities. A city preserved in silver grey granite.

[Titles & Credits]

With a past both romantic and turbulent, Aberdeen is one of the most fascinating places in Europe. You can arrive by long distance Pullman coach, by high speed intercity trains, or drop into the international airport.

Known the world over as the Granite City, 160 years ago, Alexander MacDonald discovered the art of cutting and polishing granite.

This charter was granted to the city by King William the Lion in about the year 1179.

The great charter of Robert the Bruce transformed the city in 1319 into an independent financial community. The motto of the city is Bon-accord.

Responsible for much of the charm here was Archibald Simpson, a native of Aberdeen and a great architect. There are monuments to him all over the city.

Sometimes called the City of Surprises, roses are everywhere. Fertile soil is the crucial factor. Rose Growing is a spectacular and a thriving industry. Over 1 million blooms a year are sold by the local nurseries. For them, obviously, everything is coming up roses.

They win trophies for them too.

You know, this street really got to me. A mile long granite artery called Union Street.

At one end of Union Street is the Castlegate, the castle long since gone.

In the Castlegate on top of a fountain is perhaps Aberdeen's answer to London's Eros. The Manny.

Union Street can keep you occupied for days. On the west side of the street is the 160 year old Music Hall of Archibald Simpson design. Packed houses are the rule when ballet, opera plays, rock and jazz converge on the city's theatres.

With one entrance in Union Street, the Church of Saint Nicholas existed in the year 1151. Branches of trees, well, they cast shadows over monuments worth studying, if only for the stories they tell through their engravings.

One of the clocks is that of the old Tolbooth, almost enveloped by the Townhouse, seat of Aberdeen's local government.

And across the way is the Mercat Cross, built in 1686. A richly carved parapet depicts the Stuart Kings of Scotland.

This tower is all that is left of the old Tolbooth and its grimy cells.

Through the arches, the 20th century carries on. In Broad Street is the Townhouse extension and Greyfriars Church with Marshall College. 75 years ago, the elaborate frontage was added to the almost 400 year old college. Today it's part of the University of Aberdeen.

In Union Terrace, a statue to Robert Burns.

On a massive granite base not far away, the enormous bronze of Sir William Wallace.

Nearby seated is Victoria's Albert. The statue of Lord Byron stands outside Aberdeen Grammar School, part of the city's co-educational comprehensive system. The school is justly proud of its famous pupil.

The handsome building dates from 1863. During his school days, Byron must have looked something like this.

Approached by an avenue flanked by lawns, the central block of Robert Gordon's college was designed by the father of the famous Adam Brothers in 1729.

A public school in the British sense, it was founded by an Aberdeen merchant, Robert Gordon. The Otaki Shield presented annually to the most pre-eminent pupil.

The juniors told me that at break time they play Star Wars and have encounters of different kinds.

He obviously heard the news first. He's not at all impressed. And he couldn't agree more.

Education and research exerted a powerful influence on many aspects of the city's life.

Young ladies are not forgotten. The authorities are just as interested in the social and physical well-being of young ladies, in fact, all young people as they are in academic progress.

Topping the Tower of King's College is the great imperial crown. For almost 400 years, it has proclaimed Aberdeen's pride. The university is one of the highlights of my look at Aberdeen. The library is fronted by a sculpted unicorn and a lion.

Scarlet gowned former students commissioned the tomb of Bishop Elphinstone, who in 1494 founded the college. What marvellous mad hopes were cherished in Aberdeen. Oh that's a city to be born in. Your mind goes dancing under the crown that dreams of Flodden.

Youth treads lightly, where youth has trodden under the crown. So wrote a poet, early this century.

As I left, I was told that one of the most memorable experiences was to be married in the Chapel of King's College. Powers large, gates to the halls of residence.

I like the sea. A city by the sea is a bonus for me. And this was the view as I approached the beaches by way of Beach Boulevard. Two miles of magnificent promenade back the beaches. The promenade is separate from the city, but guess what? Golf courses! They play the game up here.

In Queen's Road a Scotsman's home is his castle. See what I mean? And talking of castles, everyone knows there's always one at the end of a rainbow.

This is medieval Drum Castle.

Crathes Castle, built in 1553.

Overlooking the River Dee, Braemar Castle.

Ryvie, being privately restored so it doesn't wind up like Kildrummy. an impressive ruin. A 12th century masterpiece.

Craigievar, the pot of gold at Rainbow's End.

Balmoral, the finest jewel in the crown of Scotland's castle country.

On Sunday mornings when in residence Her Majesty comes to Crathie Church.

What a marvellous country this is. Suddenly you're confronted by fields of pure gold. What a land to look at.

A land of rivers, lochs and waterfalls, forests, mountains and lush green valleys. All this a few miles outside Aberdeen. Look at the Falls of Muick.

Look at highland cattle posing for a painting. Look at heather everywhere. A not so lazy river flows under Invercauld Bridge.

Through the arch of Torry Battery you can see Aberdeen's harbour.

Down the only complete Georgian street, Marshall Street, comes the intense traffic down to the harbour quayside.

Helicopters take off for the North Sea oil rigs. Ships with names leaving no doubt what business they're in, they await orders. New pipelines are laid outside the city. Black gold is much in evidence at the docks of Europe's offshore capital.

Time has overtaken Aberdeen's first suburb, the 175 year old village of Footdee. It's situated between the beaches and the harbour. The windows of the single storey cottages look out on this.

The residents don't say “tanks for the memory anymore”. That's progress, I suppose. Oil has become a way of life here, but other industries still make the town go boom. Fishing is still in favour, of course.

Papermaking is prominent.

Millions of yards of materials move out of the mills. Trouble with tartan is unheard of. It's exported everywhere in the world.

My industrial look-see ended with a visit to the Hall Russell shipyard, another industry with a first class reputation in this part of the country.

Interesting churches are everywhere. This is the American Connection. Saint Andrew's Episcopal Cathedral in King Street. It commemorates Samuel Seabury, the first bishop of the United States, and he was consecrated here in 1748.

Between two buildings at the top of Union Street is Saint James.

Christ's College is still used by candidates for the Church of Scotland Ministry.

Saint Mary's, the Cathedral of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Aberdeen. Since the sixth century, there has been a church here.

The Cathedral of Saint Machar is a fortified church with memories of the turbulent times in the city's long history. It dates from 1357.

First mentioned in 1545, Provost Skene's House. The 400 year old residence of Provost Ross. Today the Provost of Aberdeen has long since been designated Lord Provost and is the premier civic dignitary with a role both important and historic.

Civic pride extends to the Arts Centre with its multitude of cultural activities. One of the finest collections in Great Britain is in the art gallery.

Near the art gallery, Union Terrace Gardens.

From the Union Terrace Gardens, I saw a trio of fine granite buildings; the public library; Saint Mark's Church, with its massive dome; and one of the finest theatres in Britain, His Majesty's.

Adjoining Cowdray Hall, the War Memorial.

The general post office stamps its flamboyant castle like image on Crown Street.

The park’s out of this world. Streams, waterfalls, rockeries and rustic bridges make Johnson Gardens one of the most attractive amenities.

Hazlehead Park is the largest. Its harmony of heathers breathtaking. Hazlehead is a fine course for anyone feeling up to par.

Now for something superbly spectacular; the Winter Garden in Duthie Park. Any further comment from me would simply spoil the effect. Let's just look at the Winter Garden.

How about that? This tropical cactus house is the latest addition to this winter garden wonderland.

A fine example of an early 17th century Scottish house is the Wallace Tower, which today overlooks Seaton Park, through which flows the River Don. This is the newer bridge over the Don. The old bridge of Don is 700 years old, still in use and called the “Brig o Balgownie”.

Over the bridge are some finely restored cottages, but don't get excited, there's a long waiting list.

At the end of the high street in old Aberdeen is the Georgian townhouse or town hall, nearly 200 years old.

We're not far from King's College, where we were earlier. Still in old Aberdeen, Grant's Place and Clarks Lane. Could you believe we're only a couple of miles from the centre?
Wrights and Coopers place. The whole area grew up around Saint Mark's Cathedral and the university.

From the mountain slopes of the Cairngorms to the coast and beyond, the Grampian police are responsible. Grampian police are a force to be reckoned with. Dogs search for missing persons or perpetrators of crime.

The heather seems to be alive with the sound of music from the police pipe band. The uniforms; Black Stuart tartan with black doublets.

I was captivated by everything I saw. And I'll be back, well that's for sure. In the meantime, so long, Aberdeen. And here's looking at ya!


All music should be cleared with 

De Wolfe Music 
Queen’s House 
180-182 Tottenham Court Road