Three-way lesbian love affair around a tweed mill makes Gaelic TV history

Jenny Ryan as Judi and Kathryn MacKay as Cairistiona on An Clò Mòr.

BBC soap An Clò Mòr has become the first Gaelic drama to feature a romantic same-sex storyline in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides – and it’s a three-way lesbian love triangle, too.

The series, which translates to The Grand Cloth, will include a plot about three women working around the Hebridean Harris Tweed industry who become entangled in a love affair.

It’s hoped that An Clò Mòr‘s plot will help to “redress the balance” when it comes to a dearth of LGBTQ+ representation on Gaelic TV, according to the drama’s director, Tony Kearney.

Speaking to the Daily Record, Kearney, who grew up on the Outer Hebrides island of Barra, said that the show marked a turning point in queer representation.

“There’s never been a lesbian storyline before in a Gaelic drama, which is incredible to think in 2024,” he said.

“We’ve been really determined to have full representation here. We had to redress the balance, because there had been dramas but there had never been proper representation of same-sex relationships.”

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Before becoming a director, Kearney played gay character Scott Wallace in the award-winning Scottish soap River City.

In making An Clò Mòr’s first queer storyline a three-way love affair, the show omits gay trauma tropes of painful coming outs and homophobic violence, and instead skips straight to the steamy romance.

Mairead kisses Cairistiona in An Clo Mor.
Cairistiona also kisses Mairead in An Clò Mòr. (BBC)

“We’re not having anguished coming-out stories now. People are past that. It’s just about people falling in love with other people,” Kearney explained.

“It’s as important that this sort of relationship is visible in rural areas of Scotland as it is anywhere.”

The love affair will see established landlady Cairistiona Campbell (Kathryn Mackay) kissing new character and friend Judi, played by actress Jenny Ryan. However, Cairistiona will also kiss character Mairead (Anna Mhoireach).

An Clò Mòr season one aired on BBC Alba in January 2023, with all six episodes available on BBC iPlayer now.

The first series revolved around set the long-established family-run tweed business, MacSween’s Mill. The company is in crisis, with the small team who work there left clinging onto their employment by the skin of their teeth.

The mill owner, Seumas MacSween (Ewan MacKinnon), had to fight to save the mill, with season two revealing whether the mill will survive.

An Clò Mòr season two began yesterday (8 January) and is available to stream on BBC iPlayer.