Hamish Macbeth (TV series)

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Hamish Macbeth
title screencap
Hamish Macbeth title screencap
Starring Robert Carlyle
Shirley Henderson
Country of origin Scotland
Original language(s) English
No. of series 3
No. of episodes 20
Broadcast
Original channel BBC Scotland
Original run 26 March 1995  –
4 May 1997

Hamish Macbeth is a comedy-drama series made by BBC Scotland and first aired in 1995. It is loosely based on a series of mystery novels by M. C. Beaton (Marion Chesney). The series concerns a local police officer, Constable Hamish Macbeth in the fictitious town of Lochdubh on the west coast of Scotland. The titular character was played by Robert Carlyle. It ran for three series from 1995 to 1997, with the first two series having six episodes and the third having eight.

Plot[edit]

Macbeth, accompanied by his dog, a West Highland Terrier named Wee Jock, keeps the peace in the small town of Lochdubh (pronounced with the guttural 'ch' sound, LoCH-DOO). Macbeth does this in his own way, without undue reliance on the letter of the law and with every intention of avoiding being promoted out of what is his ideal job. He strongly dislikes involvement from Inverness police, and sometimes his main work doesn't seem to be the capture of local very petty criminals, but to keep them away from prison and penalties.

The major running theme of the series is the tension caused by Hamish's attraction to both the journalist of the local newspaper, Isobel Sutherland (Shirley Henderson) and the aristocratic author Alexandra Maclean (Valerie Gogan). Other themes include the clairvoyance of Hamish's friend and co-worker "TV John", John McIver (Ralph Riach), the not-so-secret romance between the school-teacher Esme Murray and the shopkeeper Rory Campbell, the volatile marriage of the publican Barney Meldrum and his wife Agnes, the schemes of the two Lachie MacCraes, father and son, the laid-back, pipe smoking Doc Brown (Duncan Duff), and Major Peregrine Mclean (David Ashton), father of Alexandra and aristocratic penniless bachelor.

The series had a slightly surreal quality to it, drawing on the superstitious natures of some of the characters and the somewhat eerie beauty of the remote and misty location, and enhanced by the Gaelic music of John Lunn.

Production[edit]

The series was filmed on location in the village of Plockton, the town of Kyle of Lochalsh and the surrounding area. It was directed mainly by Nicholas Renton, with Mandie Fletcher directing four episodes and Jonas Grimas directing two episodes in 1997.

DVD[edit]

The series were released on DVD in the UK and the US in 2005 and 2006 with the exception of the first series episode West Coast Story. This was due to rights issues surrounding the episode's extensive use of excerpts from West Side Story. The third and final series was released in April 2006.

Cast[edit]

Principal characters[edit]

With occasional exceptions, these key characters appear in every episode.

Character Actor Description
Hamish Macbeth Robert Carlyle A policeman in the village of Lochdubh, laid-back in dealing with the inhabitants' quirky ways. He works to avoid promotion or transfer, and is clearly more interested in keeping the peace than enforcing the letter of the law.
Wee Jock Zippy Hamish's dog. Dies in episode 1.5 and is replaced by another dog named simply "Jock".
John James McIver ("TV John") Ralph Riach Hamish's friend and confidant who got his nickname because he was the first man in Lochdubh to have a television set. He maned the station when Hamish was away and was gifted with the sight. He also filled out Macbeth's paperwork, impressive given that in the early days of the series he couldn't read or write. He had a younger brother named Kenneth who suffered from terrible luck. TV John was guardian of a major secret of Lochdubh which is revealed to be the location of The Stone of Destiny. In series 3 he had an ongoing subplot of predicting his own death, claiming that he would smell pomade as he dies. He dies in Destiny: Part 2 when the speedboat he and Kenneth are in crashes into rocks.
Isobel Sutherland Shirley Henderson A reporter on The Lochdubh Listener who is in love with Hamish. She originally left Lochdubh for a job in Glasgow but eventually returns. In Destiny: Part 2 the ghost of TV John's father reveals to Hamish that she is pregnant.
Alexandra "Alex" Maclean Valerie Gogan Major Maclean's daughter, a novelist who had an on/off relationship with Hamish. She breaks up with Hamish in "Radio Lochdubh" after discoving that he no longer has feelings for her and is actually in love with Isobel. She drives away from Lochdubh but the van she is driving gets stuck on rocks at the edge of a cliff; she gets out to try and free it but slips on the mud and falls down the cliff to her death. Her body is discovered the following day, her death greatly upsetting Hamish and the villagers.
Agnes Meldrum Barbara Rafferty Runs the local pub with her husband, Barney. In the episode In Search of a Rose it is revealed that when she was 16 she had a son named Gavin whom she gave up for adoption and reunites with her in the present day.
Bernard Keir Hardy "Barney" Meldrum Stuart McGugan The local publican, an "incomer" from Glasgow.
Esme Murray Anne Lacey The local teacher and owner of the boarding house.
Rory Duncan Campbell Brian Pettifer Owner of the local grocery shop, very close to Esme.
Dougal Alexander Fleming "Doc" Brown Duncan Duff The kilt-wearing, pipe-smoking village doctor.
Lachlan McCrae, Sr. Jimmy Yuill (Series 1) and
Billy Riddoch (Series 2-3)
The local schemer who makes unlicensed sausages.
Lachlan McCrae, Jr. ("Lachie Junior") Stuart Davids Son of Lachlan Sr., who starts out in the sausage business and ends up the local undertaker.
Major Roderick Peregrine ("Roddy") Maclean David Ashton Alex's father, Local land-owner, former army officer, and member of the landed gentry.

Regular supporting characters[edit]

These characters do not form the centre of any storyline, and appear infrequently, although each may be seen in multiple episodes, as a regular part of village background life.

Character Actor Description
Malkie Clunie Jon Croft The Major's groundsman and gamekeeper.
Edith ("Edie") Mona Bruce The Major's housekeeper.
Flora Dolina MacLennan The secretary and receptionist at the local newspaper office, and prolific knitter.
Neil the Bus Iain McColl Operator of the local omnibus. (Lochdubh also has a small, unstaffed railway station.)
Peter the Fireman Ronnie Letham Station Officer at the local fire station. Lochdubh has locally stored fire-fighting equipment, which local men are trained to use until the fire brigade arrive.
Zoot McPherrin Ron Donachie Leader of a hippie colony, with various Lochdubh associations.
The Reverend Alan Snow Laurie Ventry Local clergyman of undisclosed denomination - context suggests he is Anglican or Presbyterian.
D.I. Bruce Bill Leadbitter Hamish's superior from the Inverness police force.
Jimmy Soutar Rab Christie The son of farmer Duncan Soutar (Alex Norton)
Jean Foley Sandy McDade A friend of Isobel's who along with her nephew Frankie leaves Glasgow to stay in Lochdubh to get away from a gang. She later starts a relationship with Lachie Jr.
Frankie Bryce Stephen Henderson Jean's nephew who comes with her and Isobel to Lochdubh to escape a gang that his father was once part of.

Episodes[edit]

Series 1[edit]

Ep# Title Airdate Description
1.1 The Great Lochdubh Salt Robbery 26 March 1995 Hamish must investigate the disappearance of the local bully, Geordie Robb.
1.2 A Pillar of the Community 2 April 1995 Hamish must keep the peace when a newcomer tries to teach the villagers about their own "traditional" heritage.
1.3 The Big Freeze 9 April 1995 Hamish investigates Major Maclean's insurance claims.
1.4 West Coast Story 16 April 1995 Hamish sets out to expose the hypocrisy of a bank manager and joins the village production of West Side Story.
1.5 Wee Jock's Lament 23 April 1995 Hamish tracks down two escaped convicts who ran over and killed his dog Wee Jock.
1.6 A Bit of an Epic 30 April 1995 Hamish goes on a mountain trek which leads to a dangerous situation.

Series 2[edit]

Ep# Title Airdate Description
2.1 A Perfectly Simple Explanation 24 March 1996 Hamish is branded a devil by a religious group who claim that Lochdubh is the new Gomorrah.
2.2 In Search of a Rose 31 March 1996 Hamish investigates the disappearance of a local seafarer.
2.3 Isobel Pulls It Off 7 April 1996 Hamish becomes jealous when Isobel breaks a big story and finds a new boyfriend.
2.4 Radio Lochdubh 14 April 1996 Hamish is ordered to close down a local pirate radio station, and breaks up with Alex.
2.5 No Man Is an Island 21 April 1996 Hamish takes off to a remote island and meets a woman in trouble.
2.6 The Lochdubh Deluxe 28 April 1996 Hamish has to intervene in a family feud, and there may be aliens in Lochdubh.

Series 3[edit]

Ep# Title Airdate Description
3.1 The Honourable Policeman 16 March 1997 Hamish is invited to be the best man at the local laird's wedding, whilst also training a new woman police constable.
3.2 Deferred Sentence 23 March 1997 Hamish investigates a twenty-year old mystery which has divided the island of Laggan-Laggan.
3.3 The Lochdubh Assassin 30 March 1997 Hamish must protect the village from a gang of ruthless villains.
3.4 The Good Thief 6 April 1997 Hamish has to uncover the secret of Frankie's best friend from Glasgow, Tusker Gray.
3.5 The Trouble with Rory 13 April 1997 Hamish investigates a fire at the local primary school.
3.6 More Than a Game 20 April 1997 Hamish suspects that there may be cheating at the annual shinty match against Dunbracken.
3.7 Destiny: Part 1 27 April 1997 Hamish investigates the location of the Stone of Destiny.
3.8 Destiny: Part 2 4 May 1997 Hamish and friends trek across the mountains to rescue TV John.

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References[edit]

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