Hamish Macbeth, Ballykissangel, and the Fountain of Youth

That’s right, I have found the fountain of youth…

…and her name is Shirley Henderson.

This is very random, I know, but I felt the need to share when I realized all of this.  I recently watched Hamish Macbeth (yes, you read that correctly), a BBC small-town cop series that takes place in the Highlands of Scotland.  It is a lovely series, if a little odd (okay, sometimes downright strange), but that’s mainly because they often work the mysticism of Scottish folklore into the mystery/crime of each episode.  It was especially exciting to me because of my trip last year to Scotland.  The fake town of the series is comprised of shots from two real towns, one of which I stayed in on my way to the Isle of Skye – Shout out: Kyle of Localsh, woot WOOT!  And the 2-part finale all about the Stone of Destiny (which I learned about and “saw” in Edinburgh Castle) was filmed on the Isle of Skye!  I recognized it because they were hiking right over the Trotternish Ridge around the Quirang, which was one of my favorite places on the island and the hike where I got trapped on the side of a mountain in a monsoon.  It felt very cool to be able to recognize it.

Hiking the Quirang

Annnnnnnnyway, the series stars Robert Carlyle (he of The Full Monty) as the titular police constable Hamish, amid the usual cast of small town archetypal characters.  I say “usual” because I discovered that these people seem to be approximately the same on all of these shows.  This may not seem like that much of a revelation (I know there are archetypes and yes, I am a writer), but it felt like one because I was seeing the comparison so clearly illustrated.  Around the same time, I also started watching Ballykissangel (as I waited for the next Hamish Netflix disc to arrive…I had to fill my need for small town, strong-accent BBC television somehow!).  Ballykissangel is a series about a small town in Ireland, though the main character is a priest instead of a policeman.  Both shows involve the main character using untraditional methods to deal with the quirky personalities of the local populace and give a glimpse of what it’s like to live in a small, rather secluded town. 

I began to notice that the supporting characters were made up of a very similar smattering of local “types.”  There’s the publican (that means pub-owner, I looked it up because I couldn’t tell if they were talking about politics or religion or what), the shop-owner (who runs the only place to buy any food, which looks rather like a NY bodega), the businessman/handyman (willing to try anything/try to scam anyone to make a little money), and his henchmen who do the dirty work.  They are both very enjoyable shows and I highly recommend them, though I should warn you that watching nothing but these shows for two weeks had me starting to think in an accent (it wavered between Scottish and Irish).  I consider this a fun side effect, but then I’m turning into a self-professed anglophile.

Again, I digress…

Hamish’s love interest and soul mate end’s up being the town reporter, Isobel Sutherland, played by Shirley Henderson.  Whom I recognized and that got me started doing a little math…

Hamish Macbeth ran from 1995-97 at which point Shirley was a perfectly age-appropriate 30.  I have finally seen Bridget Jones’s Diary, so I recognized her as one of the friends (Jude, in fact).  Again, age-appropriate in 2001.  But what I really know her from, and since it is so much more recent it blows my mind a little, is Harry Potter!!!

No, she is not one of the teachers.  Shirley Henderson is MOANING MYRTLE!  Now I’m sure it’s a bit tacky revealing someone’s age like this, and Ms. Henderson, I really like you and your work and I hope that you don’t hold this against me, because I say it out of amazement and wonder and envy at your versatility as an actress.  She’s playing a 16-year-old, albeit a dead 16-year-old, at age 40!!!  Now that’s awesome!

She could do anything next, absolutely anything.  Her range seems unlimited.  What a thing to have as an actress.  I’m impressed, and jealous, and, mainly, just a bit floored.

Apparently, we all need to start drinking whatever she’s having.  

Maybe this means I need to learn to like Scotch.



Filed under Movies, TV

4 responses to “Hamish Macbeth, Ballykissangel, and the Fountain of Youth

  1. Man, I love Shirley Henderson. She has such cool, distinctive voice. I too was very surprised when I realized how old she was when she played Moaning Myrtle, and it’s pretty impressive. Because she was CG-ed over though, I guess it’s not totally crazy.

    Anyway this sounds like an interesting show! I dig the cast and locale, so maybe I’ll be adding it to the queue…

    • cassiopeia137

      I agree. When I first heard her voice as Moaning Myrtle and a little bit in other things, I thought it was one that was just high all the time and I wouldn’t like it. But she’s much more interesting and talented than that. Ballykissangel is good, but I definitely recommend Hamish Macbeth, though I am admittedly pretty obsessed with everything Scotland after spending a month there. Some of it is odd/random, and many reviews say it can be hard to understand the accent (there are no subtitles), but overall it’s very fun and well done and Robert Carlyle is great. It’s kind of nice to see him and Shirley on home turf and before most of the movies that made them more well-known.

  2. JoLynnea Yoder

    I am very late to this discussion, but have just recently watched ALL of Hamish Macbeth. I had previously watched Monarch of the Glen, also set in the Highlands of Scotland. I loved both shows, but I think I have become obsessed with the young Robert Carlyle! lol.

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