To this day Alastair Borthwick is considered to be a Scottish icon. He began his career when he was just 16 years old, working at the Evening Times of Glasgow as a copytaker. He soon joined the Glasgow Weekly Herald where he was a writer. He reviewed films, put together pages for women and children, answered reader’s questions, and put together the crossword puzzle.
What he became well-known for was his weekly column, Open Air. He had taken up the hobby of mountaineering and wrote about it for his readers. He says that he became addicted to this activity and climbed hills and mountains across all of Scotland. He turned this material into a book in 1939, Always a Little Further. This is considered one of the best books ever to be written in Scotland.
He became a radio broadcaster in 1934. In an era where other radio broadcasters were very stiff and formal, he was a breath of fresh air. He let his personality shine and spoke to his listeners in a friendly manner. His producer, James Fergusson, said that Alastair Borthwick had a natural way of speaking and the microphone he used was treated like an old friend.
After World War II was started he joined the Scottish armed forces. Starting out as a private, he was in the 5th Seaforth Highlanders battalion. He saw action in North Africa and in Western Europe, including in both Italy and Germany. He proved that he was no soft writer as he was willing to fight and die for his country.
His second book was published in 1946, the year after World War II was over. This was Sans Peur where he detailed the history of his battalion. He would revisit World War II often in the coming years when he became a TV broadcaster with a documentary series. He was given freedom to document what he wanted so he covered many other subjects as well up until 1994 when he retired.
Alastair Borthwick was married and they had one child. He died after his wife Anne passed away in 2002.