Island’s baking brothers star in TV series

Baker's dozen, the team at Macleans with Allan on the right

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A new BBC ALBA series about a family-run bakery on Benbecula starts on Thursday May 14.

Brothers Allan and Ewen Maclean opened Maclean’s Bakery at Uachdar in 1987.

Since then it has become one of the largest private businesses in the Western Isles sending every type of cake, oatcake, biscuit and bread across the isles and to all corners of Scotland.

Allan has revealed he and Ewen knew nothing about baking before starting the business.

In the early days, word spread about the bakery and it proved a hit with hungry late night revellers once the pubs closed and dances finished at weekends.

Allan said: ‘We worked night shift then and people started coming in once the pubs closed to ask if they could have a pie.’

It became so popular he was struggling to prepare food for the vans leaving at 9am, so he stopped supplying pies during the night to concentrate on producing food.

Throughout the years, Maclean’s has prepared food for events large and small in Uist.

Among the services they provide is a busy restaurant called Stepping Stone and a catering trailer which sells fresh local produce and hot food to events.

The six-part series shows how the family team manages to juggle everything.

That includes real-life drama when Ewen, who has Crohn’s Disease, is rushed to the hospital on the mainland to deal with what could be a life-threatening situation, while the family has a difficult decision to make over its restaurant.

Since the programmes were made and the outbreak of coronavirus, the bakery has closed its takeaway but still has its full team of staff working.

They also continue to provide hot food from their catering trailer to the community.

An Taigh-Fuine/The Bakery starts on BBC ALBA on Thursday May 14 at 8.30pm and each episode is available on the BBC iPlayer for 30 days after it airs.