BBC Ice Cream Wars: Inside Glasgow 1980s documentary - what it’s about, how to watch on TV

Mr Whippy tastes fine but had a different taste back then. Mr Whippy tastes fine but had a different taste back then.
Mr Whippy tastes fine but had a different taste back then. | Glasgow World
After an enthralling and intriguing programme on BBC One Scotland yesterday evening looking at how the Ice Cream Wars descended onto Glasgow in the 1980s, we go in-depth to examine Part One of the documentary.

If there is one city in Scotland that is haunted by the past - it's Glasgow. The first show of the Ice Cream Wars took place on BBC One Scotland last night in what is a compelling documentary series.

The documentary reveals the inside story of a vicious gang war that tore through Glasgow’s tough housing estates in the early Eighties, an infamous miscarriage of justice, and a crime which still remains unsolved.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

In many households, the distant music of an ice cream truck brings happy anticipation of frozen delights - it turned into something less exciting and glamorous.

Using archive, first-hand footage, and dramatic reconstruction, the two-part series tells the story of a gangland battle over the most unlikely of things – ice cream van routes. This battle would result in the murder of six completely innocent members of the same family, including an 18-month-old baby.

Glasgow was a tale of two cities just over four decades ago - one part looked immaculate and showed the fine city that Glasgow is and continues to be renowned for - the other, a battleground of criminal warfare.

The city’s sprawling new housing schemes such as Easterhouse and Ruchazie, housed thousands of people who had little or no access to shops, pubs, or other facilities. Against this backdrop, ice cream vans thrived, making so much money that they quickly attracted the attention of the city’s gangsters. The competition was fierce and would often escalate into violence, becoming deadly on the morning of the 16th April 1984.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

In the early hours of the morning, a fire engulfed a top-floor flat in Bankend Street, Ruchazie. One of the victims, Andrew Doyle, was a young ice cream van driver who had, in the weeks running up to his death, received threats and intimidation. The police would quickly link the fire to organised criminal gangs trying to muscle in on the city’s ice cream trade.

The trial that followed would be the biggest of its kind in Scotland and a 20-year fight for justice that gripped the nation.

Nanette Pollock, a detective at Strathclyde police said, "Gangs were going to the next area from where they lived and would start a war with the Juvenile guys, they tried to take other each other's territory.

"I think what was more important to them was they owned where they lived and was nothing to do with the police, they were doing their own policing."

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Featuring testimony from police officers, members of the ice cream business, reporters from the Eighties and eyewitnesses, it’s an eye-catching and intriguing watch.

Along with Joe Steele, one of the men jailed for the murders of the Doyle family, contributors include Archie McDougall, manager of one of Glasgow’s biggest ice cream businesses; writer & campaigner Douglas Skelton; crime author Denise Mina; and lawyers John Carroll and Aamer Anwar.

Part two of the documentary is this evening at 9pm on BBC One Scotland.

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.