Doctor Who's Karen Gillan hunted for witch role

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By Clare Carswell

The lead role in a film about Scotland’s most notorious witch will hopefully be played by Doctor Who’s, Karen Gillan, if screenwriter, David Ness has his way. 

Ness who lives in Nairn, has worked with some of Hollywood’s biggest names and has had his most recent screenplay about Scottish witch, Isobel Gowdie snapped up by a production company.

Ness, who is also a lecturer in sociology, philosophy and English literature at the University of the Highlands and Islands, was inspired by Gowdie, who was tried for witchcraft in 1662.  The confession that she gave is considered to provide the most detailed insight into European witchcraft folklore.

In the film, Ness intends use the 17th century story as the basis for a contemporary tale of a young girl who is distressed by the loss of her mother.  The character is haunted by a woman from the time of Isobel Gowdie’s life, therefore providing a link back to the original story.

Ness said: “I live close to where the events of 1662 took place and have been fascinated with the story of Gowdie for years.  It’s one of these legendary stories that has persisted through the years.

“Many of the modern witchcraft clichés can be traced back to Isobel Gowdie, including broomsticks and covens.  And the influence of her confessions can be seen in many places, from Sir Walter Scott through the Burns’ Tam O’Shanter.

“I have also always loved the song about her by The Sensational Alex Harvey Band.”

He has his sights set on Karen Gillan, famous for her role as the Doctor’s assistant in the BBC’s Doctor Who series, for the lead role but hopes he can convince fellow Nairn resident and Oscar winner, Tilda Swinton to also be involved.

He said: “There is also a part for Tilda if she says yes.  It is very much at the early stages of production and no dates have been set as yet.”

However, Gillan and Swinton are not the only big names to be associated with this blossoming project.

Ness said: “Brian Cox, Douglas Henshall, John Hannah and Michelle Gomez have all expressed an interest.”

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