A self shooting observational documentary producer/director making engaging, thought-provoking films about real people, often filming over extended timeframes.

Darren McGarvey’s Scotland : Episodes

6x 30’
My Role
Series Filmed and Directed
Written and Presented by
Darren McGarvey
Exec Producer BBC
David Harron
Exec Producer for Tern TV
Harry Bell
Prod Co
Tern TV
BBC Scotland
Transmission Date
10pm, Tues 3rd Sept
10pm, Tues 10th Sept
10pm, Tues 17th Sept
10pm, Tues 24th Sept
10pm, Tues 1st Oct
10pm, Tues 8th Oct

Ep 1: Dundee: Drug Death Capital

In 2018 while people were transfixed by the spectacular opening of Dundee’s V&A, the city was becoming infamous for a very different story: 72 people died from drugs in the previous year making Dundee the Drug Death Capital of Europe.

With his own chequered history of drug and alcohol addiction, Darren McGarvey, AKA Loki the Scottish Rapper, sets out to find out what’s going on.  His journey starts in a cemetery where he finds Jamie who has lost more family members than she has left. Continuing, he goes to meet Carol whose daughter attacked her whilst high on heroin; Karen who’s brother was killed by a knife wielding heroin addict, and Sylvia who’s been parked on methadone for over 30 years.

As Darren dives deeper into the story facing Dundee, it becomes obvious that he is still struggling with his own addictions. As the realities begin to hit home, a former addict-cum-recovery activist Sharon just might have the answer...

Ep 2 - Edinburgh: Crime

In Edinburgh Darren McGarvey, AKA Loki the Scottish Rapper, sets his steely gaze on crime and aspiration. Why do one in five children live in poverty in Scotland’s financial capital? And how does it impact their future?

Starting at the end of the ‘story’, Loki travels to HMP Edinburgh to meet long-term prisoners. Running a rap workshop, Darren stops in mid flow as a prisoner confides that his dad is locked up in the same wing, and the best period of a father and son relationship has been inside. As for aspiration, well life got in the way.

Full of fire, Darren goes to meet Gemma and her 1-year-old son Klay shuttling around the city’s temporary housing system. Not only is her house cold and damp, its causing respiratory problems for her son. As Darren wonders how to break the cycle of poverty he meets two extraordinary youth workers, James and Katie, tackling bike crime in Pilton; gives a sermon unlike any other in an Independent school, George Watson’s College, before ending up in a Mandarin class in one of the city’s most deprived areas...

Ep 3 - West Dunbartonshire: Worst Place to be a Woman

Statistically just being born a woman means you are more likely to experience poverty. For Darren McGarvey, AKA Loki the Scottish Rapper, that notion is beyond horrific, it’s criminal.  Starting at a Reclaim the Night rally in West Dunbartonshire, itself described as the worst place to be a woman in Scotland, Darren sets out to understand what’s actually going on.  Meeting Astyn, a vocal survivor of domestic abuse, and later Kirsty, a Family Counsellor, Darren is propelled into a world of women who are making real change. In Dumbarton Academy, Brenda, a local entrepreneur is doing what she can to put an end to period poverty, something 1 in 5 female pupils face; whilst Kinship Carer Micheleine shows Darren the importance of family bonds. Lastly he meets Pamela, whose daughter Paige Doherty was brutally murdered. As Pamela talks about violence by men against women, she shows Darren how she has channelled her unimaginable grief by setting up a charity to give free self-defence classes to children.

As his journey into gender inequality comes to an end Darren is full of awe and admiration for the women he has met along the way.   It is they who are building solutions to this massive disparity. And its time society recognises them.

Ep 4 - Glasgow: Dying Young

In Glasgow Darren McGarvey, AKA Loki the Scottish Rapper, is on home ground, exploring an issue dear to him – why do men in Glasgow’s Possilpark die on average 13 years younger than anywhere else in the UK? They call it the Glasgow Effect, which conveniently masks just how ugly the realities are.

To help him understand there is no better expert than GP Lyndsay Crawford who has been working at the sharp end for most of her career. She takes him to meet local patient, and former soldier, Andy, who reveals that after four heart attacks he no longer worries about them. As Darren discovers explores how the decline of industry and the explosion of drugs in the 1980s has blighted this community he meets James, a former rail worker now local heroin dealer who reveals another side to the drug world: need. Later he meets Nick who has alcohol related brain damage as a result of his drinking who hopes to turn his life around.

But there is another side to the area and that is community spirit. Proud local boy, Brian takes Darren on a tour of his part of the city; the place he calls home. But as he nears the end of his journey Darren wonders what, if anything, might solve Possil’s staggering low life expectancy? In the local community centre, badly in need of a facelift, he meets a group of extraordinary Dancing Grannies that might just have the answer: line dancing…

Ep 5 - Scottish Borders: Rural Poverty & Mental Health

In the beautiful Scottish Borders, Darren McGarvey, AKA Loki the Scottish Rapper, is exploring an issue very close to home: ill mental health.  Why do people in such idyllic surroundings suffer from higher incidences of anxiety, depression, psychosis and so on?   And is there a link between poverty and mental health?

As Darren candidly recounts his own struggles with suicidal thoughts, addictions and ill mental health, he goes to meet Glen, a self-confessed fashionista and long-distance lorry driver.    After breaking up with his partner his life began spiralling out of control.  Before long he had lost his job and began living in his car, only to attempt suicide. As Glen recounts his tale the effect on Darren is palpable.  His story clearly shows a worrying connection between poverty and mental health.

Next Darren travels to Eyemouth to meet Dani, who began working with 14 to 16 year olds struggling with issues such as self-harm, depression, anxiety and addictions.   Using horses as therapy, Dani provides a safe space, helping many who are in danger of being lost within the system. Later Darren meets Steven a local artist whose Tourette’s and ill mental health is becoming increasingly strained as he awaits a re-assessment of a key benefit; and Scott and Grant who have set up a scheme giving experience and skills to people like 22 year old Johnny who struggles with confidence after growing up in Care.

Ep 6 - Aberdeen: Poverty at Home

In the last episode Darren McGarvey, AKA Loki the Scottish Rapper, is in the oil capital of Europe, Aberdeen, exploring homelessness, food poverty and faith.  Setting the pace, Darren reveals the city of two halves: it’s the most expensive place to live in Scotland and yet has the fastest rising rates of unemployment anywhere in the UK.

Darren’s first stop is meeting John, an alcoholic and drug addict who became homeless two years ago after a break-up with his partner.  As he takes Darren under his wing, John reveals some secrets of the streets, along with the pain of knowing his family are in the same city. Next, Darren helps Eddie, a local charity worker with Somebody Cares, who kits out over 4000 homes a year, providing thousands of pounds of free sofas, beds, white goods and clothes to those in need.  Answering a crisis call they go to help a 70-year-old pensioner, Michael, who lost all his possessions after he was evicted from his council home. Outside an impassioned and visibly angered Darren wonders just what is wrong with society that it evicts a pensioner in the middle of the winter.

Yet Aberdeen continues to be a magnet for outsiders, flocking to a city paved with gold.   Darren meets Polish born Daniel who was a lorry driver during the boom years, but later became disabled.  Unable to claim key disability benefits due to his nationality, Daniel divulges how faith helps him in his darkest moments. Keeping with this theme, Darren reveals Aberdeen now has more food banks than any other city, to the extent that they have become places for people like Danny to carry out their Community Payback orders.  And yet the need is reaching epidemic proportions. Darren meets two volunteers, Michelle and Justin of Street Friends who, four nights a week, head into the city centre to feed those who live on the streets.

Energised and inspired by his alternative tour of Scotland, and all he has met along the way, Darren asks us, the audience, to change our mindset.  It's a tragedy that one in five people live in poverty.  But how do we change things? Standing on windy Aberdonian beach, Darren asks if its time to criminalise poverty…