By Karen Carruth

A lifetime working in the media, from newspaper copy boy through to producer with the BBC’s Landward, has given Arthur Anderson a wealth of stories to tell, and his autobiography Wheels Rolling at Eight is an enjoyable jaunt through the rural landscape of Scotland and much further afield.

His story is told with an honest view on proceedings and with great appreciation of the colleagues that became friends that kept him company along the way.

I meet Arthur over a cup of tea and a bacon roll – he paid... lovely man.

He tells me that his career was long and varied but inevitably it meant being away from his wife and four children for long periods of time, and most Saturdays were spent meeting a programme deadline, often missing out on family events.

“My wife, Andrea, had been doing the family tree and I was thinking that often we leave it too late to ask our parents or grandparents about their life, and I thought rather than my children having to ask, or my grandchildren for that matter, what I was up to, I would try to put something down on paper.

“I started writing it 17 years ago when I left the BBC, and I put it aside for 10 or 12 years, and more recently I thought, if I don’t do it now, I never will.”

One thing that comes across in the book, and from talking to Arthur, is that the BBC he worked for was a corporation in its heyday. The freedom and trust he was given would undoubtedly be micro managed these days, and he is grateful to the managers that trusted that he knew what Scotland’s farmers were interested in and allowed him to follow his nose on the stories of the day.

His farming knowledge came from being born to farming parents at May Farm, near Port William, in Scotland’s south west.

As Arthur says: “Farming may have been bred in the bone, but my future lay elsewhere.”

The book takes us through the atmospheric streets of Edinburgh, where Arthur learned his journalistic trade with the Scotsman newspaper, moving on to write sports reports while earning his stripes and then moving to Glasgow to spend a couple of years working at The Scottish Farmer newspaper, where he was affectionately nicknamed Happy Pappy.

After earning his stripes as a farming journalist, Arthur headed into the world of radio which gave him skills that were transferable to TV.

He spent 25 years working on Landward – Scotland’s primary farming programme. It’s not the daily work that permeates this book, it’s the fun the team had along the way.

Many names that pop up are still involved in the business of reporting the farming news of the day, even now.

Over his Landward career, Arthur managed to get himself and his team to 27 countries to report on the latest farming developments, and the trips were not without incident.

The back cover of the book sums up the craic perfectly: “Up a creek without a paddle (almost) in Papua New Guinea; corruption in Moscow; a sheep’s nose for dinner, dancing with horses on the Hungarian plains; a leaking petrol tank in the Australian outback; chasing whales in Newfoundland; snooker with a frozen goose; being chased by a TV presenter with his trousers at his ankles; at home with the family linked in a plot to assassinate Hitler; a personal tour of Dachau Concentration Camp; a morning with the Princess Royal; twenty seconds with the Prince of Wales; and receiving a hair tonic from the Chinese, by mouth.” Arthur adds that none of these trials and tribulations were ever hinted at in his various job descriptions.

Given the task of interviewing farmers from all over the world, I ask whether he noticed any similarities.

He said: “There is a generosity of spirit, farmers always make you welcome. They are so open in telling you how they got to where they are. Whether that’s the latest breeding information, or how to get the best price for tatties.

“There is always the love of the land, and the love of what they are doing. However, I did realise that here in the UK there is a strong tradition of son or daughter following their father into the business. I didn’t see that in places like the USA, Canada or Australia. There wasn’t the same expectation, and in a changing world it was interesting to notice the difference in opinion elsewhere.”

Throughout all Arthur’s work memories, he has constant companions that reoccur.

Trusted personnel that he called on time and again. Presenters, camera operators and sound personnel - all experts in their field that became close friends.

Regular presenter of Landward, Ross Muir, had many an adventure with Arthur and has many hilarious stories to tell.

Tragically, the stories that Ross tells about their time together come under the heading of what happens on tour, stays on tour, but he did say the following: “We have so many memories together, but overall, Arthur was the consummate professional...hard-working, diligent and like myself, not taken to suffering fools.

“His ethos was to get the job done properly, no matter how difficult the circumstances or how long it took. On location, we applied the same ethos to our free time and on many occasions, we relaxed ‘properly’. He was a good and loyal colleague and remains a good friend.”

Arthur continues: “In certain sections of the media, farming isn’t seen as ‘sexy’, but I loved it. Having the complete freedom to make a film about a subject and then offering my idea in the shape of a completed television programme to tens of thousands of Scottish families on a Sunday afternoon was clearly a privilege and one that I did take seriously.”

After all the years working to provide Scottish farmers with the latest news, he was awarded with an MBE for services to agricultural broadcasting, of which he is very proud.

However, lofty awards don’t stop Arthur from being called upon for grandpa duties, regularly looking after his five grandchildren, from his four children, and his wife, Andrea, keeps his diary busy, although he does try to fit in a few more rounds of golf these days.

The book is an enjoyable read, following a career that viewers of Landward are already familiar with.

He may not have been in front of the camera that often, but he is definitely recognisable as the man from the farming programme.

At the heart of the story is Arthur’s love of farming and how he managed to bring the stories that mattered into our living rooms for 25 years.

Wheels Rolling at Eight is available from all good booksellers. 290 pages.

ISBN: 978-1-78623-304-2 Available here:, for £14.99