Sean CanneryRoad and Des O’Canneryroad

5 12 2020

Coves and blones from the Battery area of Stornoway have been in mourning recently following the deaths of two of their favourite sons. The film world lost Sir Sean Canneryroad, one of the icons of modren day Gaelic cinema. And the world of light entertainment (or at least sh*te entertainment) lost the great Des O’Canneryroad, veteran BBC Alba presenter and ruppish singer. 


Sean had a rag to riches story, starting out as a humble milkman for the Teedees, delivering milk, cream and crowdie around the streets of Newton. He gained a love of acting whilst playing third tree from the left in the Stornoway Thespians’ 1949 Christmas Pantomime (“Put’s In Boots” – sponsored by Sm*th’s Shoe Shop). This led to a number of minor and supporting roles in the Gaelic film world until he had his big break in the role of a suave special agent of the Harris Tweed Authority – Seumas Bonnaid – code name Obhobh7 .   

Bond Films

Dr Obh:  The first appearance of Canneryroad on screen as Seumas Bonnaid was him sitting in a bothan playing five hand brag, whilst smoking a roll-up. A glamorous blone loses all her money, but, gallantly, Bonnaid offers to cover her loss. She asks who he is, and he says one of the most memorable lines in film history ‘Is mise Bonnaid, Seumas Bonnaid’.

Dr Obh set the template for all Bonnaid films. Basically they all consisted of Bonnaid trying to foil a dodgy super-villain in a variety of exotic locations, whilst getting lots of snogs with blones (which was considered a bit racy in the early 1960’s Gaelic TV world)

From Russia With Liù:  Bonnaid foils a Russian plot for a fleet of klondykers to take over the Minch fisheries.

Goldfanker: In the third film of the series, Bonnaid foils Auric Goldfanker. This super-villain particularly loves the gold hues seen in Harris Tweed outfits, and tries to contaminate all the gold dye in the Harris Tweed Authority’s yard at Fort Knocks by exploding an atom bomb.  Goldfanker, so that the HTA has to use his dye instead.  Goldfanker also featured the iconic Aston-Massey tractor with the ejector seat. Honor Backman played Bonnaid’s memorable leading lady Piseag Gu Leòr, who saw the error of her ways and helped Bonnaid put an end to Goldfanker’s nefarious plans.


Kinloch-based international crime syndicate SPECTRE (Salmon Poaching in Erisort, Creed, Tolsta, Ranish and Everywhere Else) steal 2 atom bombs from a visiting RAF Vulcan at Stornoway airport and plan to detonate them in the Laxay river at the height of the bradan season to get a fleekeen massive haul of fish. Seumas Bonnaid has to go undercover to the glamorous tropical paradise of the Balallanahamas to foil their evil scheme.

You Only Loom Twice: The mysterious disappearance of an American loom is closely followed by a Russian Hatersleyski going missing. Could this lead to all out war? Only Bonnaid is man enough to foil the evil Ernst Stavros Blonefelt (?) by blowing up his secret lair in a handy volcanic island in the Sound of Harris.

Diamonds are For Heather: This was meant to be Canneryroad’s last Bonnaid film. He foils Blonefeld yet again by blowing up his Drillmaster oil rig at Arnish.

Never Say Nabher Again: Years later, Canneryroad was lured back to do one last Bonnaid film. This was basically a rerun of Thunderballallan, featuring a slightly older and fatter Bonnaid.  

Other Memorable Films

The Unchurchables: Academy Award for worst fake Irish accent

Haoidhlander: Canneryroad played an immortal Spanish Man with a Stornowegian accent. ‘There can be only aon’

The Longest Dé: The BBC Alba version of the famous war film. Due to the limitations of budget it was filmed at the Braighe.

Zardars: Bizarre sci-fi about a future dystopia largely set in a Cromwell St shop.

Murder on the Orinsay Express: 

The Man Who Would be King Cole:

A Bridge Cottages Too Far:

Tigh Bandits:

The Name of the RossTerrace:

Ina Jones and the last Crew Change:

The Hunt for Rubhach October:


Light Entertainment on BBC Alba was big business from the 1950’s to the mid 80’s. The tv schedule was full of entertainers who could do a few Gaelic songs, dance a few reels around the studio and tell a handful of mildly smutty jokes (usually dressed in full Highland rig out). 

Most of these showbiz types had worked their way up, either from the village hall circuit, or doing a stint as a ‘Redcoat’ at one of the many post war Holiday Camps. 

Des O’Canneryroad got his first big break as a Redcoat in Butt(ofNess)lin’s Holiday Camp on Sulasgeir. Despite only having guests staying at the camp for two weeks each year, Des made a big impression and was soon performing across Lewis. His family friendly persona endeared him to tens of people and he was soon approached by BBC Alba to host his own show.  

Des had several song and dance shows over the years, and when light entertainment started to lose its appeal, he turned to being a chat show host. ‘Des O’Canneryroad Tonight’ ran for 40 years and he managed to have everyone from Lewis on as a guest at one time or another. The episode with Bogey and his Hen Supper was particularly memorable. 

Des is also well remembered for his appearances on the ‘Achmorecamb and Nowuise Show’ where he was the butt of comedians Eric and Ernie’s many jokes. Despite the on-screen tensions, in reality they hated each other’s guts even more, due to a dispute over a boundary fence.. 

Des was also briefly a host on he popular afternoon ‘anagram and sums’ tv show ‘CountyPublicdown’. Contestants had to watch a Kenneth Street CCTV recording from the previous Sunday Night and see how many church elders they could spot ducking in the slightly ajar side door of the County Hotel for a wee post-sermon nyoggan. Bonus points were awarded for being able to work out the elders’ nicknames from the anagrams supplied by Des and his lovely co-host Carol Vòrduighean.



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