Scottish actor Sylvester McCoy, best known for playing the seventh Doctor in the popular BBC series Dr Who, has been confirmed as this year’s Chieftain at Cowal Highland Gathering in Dunoon.

The well known Dunoon born actor, who now resides in London, was delighted to accept the invitation to what is Scotland’s biggest highland games on Saturday 28th August.  The event, which hosts a string of family entertainment, attracts up to 23,000 spectators and over 3500 competitors from all corners of the globe.  More than 500 highland dancers and 3000 pipers from across the world compete to win championship titles, including the World Highland Dancing Championship Final and the Cowal Pipe Band Championships. 

The role of the Chieftain is very much a ceremonial one where his main duties include presenting prizes to the winners of the Cowal Pipe Band Championships & the World Highland Dancing Championship.  An emotional three days for both competitors and visitors comes to a spine tingling climax on the Saturday evening, normally around 6pm, when the Chieftain takes salute during the pipe band ‘march past’.  The massed bands, which make up 3000 pipers & drummers, form and play the “salute to the Chieftain”. 

Since his legendary role as the seventh carnation of Doctor in Dr Who between 1987 and 1989, Sylvester McCoy, 67, later revived the role in a 1993 charity special ‘Dimensions in Time’ and again in 1996, appearing in the Doctor Who television movie with Paul McGann as the eighth Doctor. 

Since playing The Doctor Sylvester has appeared in many TV and Theatre roles as well as TV presenting and recording Audio Books. Presenting credits include the classic shows. Tiswas, Vision On and Jigsaw.

Sylvester McCoy said: “''I am absolutely delighted to be attending Cowal Highland Gathering at the end of August especially considering that as a child I grew up for 18 years watching the pipers marching up Argyll Street. I so look forward to revisiting the location and the happy memories. I am thrilled and honoured to have been asked.”

Malcolm Barclay, Event Manager for Cowal Highland Gathering said: “I would like to thank Mr McCoy for accepting our invitation to be our honorary Chieftain at this year’s event.  It is a privilege and honour to welcome Mr McCoy into this role and both myself and the team at Cowal Highland Gathering look forward to bringing him home to Dunoon this year.”              

Cowal Highland Gathering is Scotland’s biggest highland games.  It takes place at Dunoon Stadium, Argyll from Thursday 26th to Saturday 28th August, 9am to 6pm each day.  For tickets and more information visit or telephone 01369 703 206. 


For more information please contact:

Pauline Foster

PR Account Manager

Pure Shores PR – Oban

+ 44 (0) 1631 569 651

+ 44 (0) 7791573247

Notes to Editors: 

For all media accreditation enquiries please contact Pauline Foster, Cowal Gathering press office, on 01631 569 651/07791573247 or

About Cowal Highland Gathering:

  • Since the very first gathering on 11th August 1894, Cowal Highland Gathering has become a world famous institution and has gone from strength to strength.  For decades, Cowal has been a major promoter of highland games, music, dance, tradition and remains a key date in the Highland Dancing and Piping competition calendar. 
  • The event attracts 3500 competitors from all over the world with many from Scottish communities-in-exile as far flung as Canada and New Zealand. 
  • As well as watching the heavy athletic, piping and Highland dancing competitions, visitors to Cowal Highland Gathering on the Saturday also enjoy a Ceilidh Tent, Children’s Tent, a range of stalls selling local crafts and a quality food and drink arena. 
  • The event comes to a spine tingling climax on the final evening (Saturday) when 3000 pipes and drums play in unison the salute to the Chieftain.  This is then followed by an incredible march through the town and spectacular fireworks from the town’s pier.

Cowal Highland Gathering supported by:                    

  • EventScotland, the national events agency established in 2002 with the aim of strengthening and promoting Scotland’s events industry. 
  • Corona – sponsors of the heavy athletics
  • Stewart McNee (Dunoon) Ltd – sponsors of the Scottish Highland Dancing Championships
  • William Wallace (Dunoon) Ltd
  • Stewart Shaw (Dunoon) Ltd & Cowal Building and Plumbing Services – Sponsors of the local confined highland dancing on the Saturday
  • Inveraray Jail – Sponsors of the Children’s Entertainment Tent
  • Western Ferries – Sponsors of the Fireworks Display
  • MacArthur Property Group – Sponsors of the Ceilidh Tent
  • United Kingdom Alliance of Dance Teachers – Sponsors of the Scottish National Highland Dance Championships
  • Federation of United States Teachers and Adjudicators
  • Tartan Town
  • Selborne Hotel (Dunoon)
  • Ross MacArthur (Contractors) Ltd – Logistical support
  • Argyll Holidays



Contact: Pauline Foster
Phone: 01631 569 651