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Wick writer's links to Henry VIII, Bonnie Prince Charlie and Charles Rennie Mackintosh


By Gordon Calder

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Henry VIII, Bonnie Prince Charlie and the renowned Scottish architect and artist, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, may appear to have nothing in common.

But they are linked by Caithness writer Colin MacDonald, who is involved in projects related to all three of them.

MacDonald, who is from Wick but lives and works in Edinburgh, has, over a number of years, adapted the Shardlake historical mystery novels by author CJ Sansom for BBC Radio 4 and all six series will be available as a box set next month.

Set during the reign of Henry VIII, the dramas follow the adventures of hunchbacked lawyer-detective Matthew Shardlake as he navigates the dangerous world of Tudor England, solving crimes and seeking out murderers.

Writer Colin MacDonald is from Wick but lives and works in Edinburgh. Pic. Alan Hendry
Writer Colin MacDonald is from Wick but lives and works in Edinburgh. Pic. Alan Hendry

MacDonald said: "It’s strange to see a decade of your working life summed up in not even a physical thing but a digital thing. But it’s a good feeling too. Shardlake and his sidekick Barak are good men battling for justice in turbulent times.

"Each adaptation consists of ten 15-minute episodes – Dissolution, Dark Fire, Sovereign, Revelation, Heartstone and Lamentation.

"I absolutely loved adapting them and working with actors at the top of their game. The audiences we have attracted worldwide have been mind blowing. All six series come out on March 17 as a digital box set and are available on Audible or Amazon."

Meanwhile, MacDonald is working on two feature films – The Pretender, and Mister Mac and Me. The latter is an adaptation of Esther Freud’s novel about Charles Rennie Mackintosh. The former is an original screenplay about Bonnie Prince Charlie.

"The novel has a basis in fact," MacDonald said. "Charles Rennie Mackintosh ended up in the Suffolk village of Walberswick at the start of World War I. He was penniless and down on his luck and was arrested on suspicion of being a German spy.

"The other film is an original screenplay about Bonnie Prince Charlie and Flora MacDonald on the run in the Western Isles after the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion. It’s a movie commissioned by the actors Jack Lowden and Saoirse Ronan. It is a story I have been interested in all my life, and getting the chance to try and bring it to the big screen is such a great opportunity.

"We will see what happens with these projects. I live, as ever, in hope."

MacDonald is also likely to be involved in an initiative at Lyth Arts Centre later this year.

"Co-directors Charlotte Mountford and Tom Barnes are doing a terrific job there. They are so full of positive energy about Caithness – which is a very good thing indeed," he added.


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