The Bill McLaren Foundation have joined forces with award winning Firebrand Theatre Company (based in Bill's hometown of Hawick in the Scottish Borders) to raise funds to produce an as yet untold story about Bill's younger days: Bill McLaren: Fighting the Enemy. Conceived as a “radio play for the stage” and spiced with humour, science and nostalgic song, Firebrand’s imaginative new drama will remind us of the galvanising qualities of hope, courage, creativity and human resilience, while telling the passionate love story of Bill and girlfriend Bette Hill that helped shape the Man behind the legendary Voice:
In 2019, Firebrand Theatre Company supported by the Bill McLaren Foundation and Creative Scotland premiered their acclaimed 5***** production of Bill McLaren: The Voice of Rugby to sold-out audiences at Heart of Hawick, under Richard Baron’s direction:
“A triumph: pays witty and affectionate tribute to a great man and a great commentator. It will appeal to an audience far beyond rugby supporters.” *****
Mark Palmer, Scottish Rugby Correspondent for The Sunday Times
"From the family's point of view The Voice of Rugby production was a great success - sensitive, powerful, informative and well balanced. The players were brilliantly cast and the production was outstanding. Certainly given the research and attention to detail it deserves to be seen and enjoyed beyond Hawick and then you never know days out of Hawick wouldn't be wasted." Linda Lawson
Now, in response to the difficult times we’re all enduring, Firebrand are delighted to once again team up with Alan and Linda Lawson and the Bill McLaren Foundation. This time they have been given access to Bill’s previously unpublished diaries, letters and poems, to create an original new romantic drama about an unknown period of the sporting icon’s young life which has extraordinary historical and contemporary relevance.
Set in 1948, Fighting the Enemy is the untold story of demobbed war hero Bill McLaren’s inspirational battle with tuberculosis, an airborne disease known as the “captain of the men of death”, and the fascinating links to fellow-sufferer George Orwell and the creation in a Scottish sanatorium of one of the most famous and influential novels of all time, 1984.
The Bill McLaren Foundation aims to support individuals and organisations to actively promote and develop rugby union and its values, as personified by Bill McLaren:
The Foundation was set up 10 years ago, with Bill's blessing and the support of his family, which we invite you to help continue to grow by playing a part in making this exciting project a reality.
Every penny of your support is greatly valued and we have some amazing rewards to thank you for your donation so you can be part of an ever growing community and get to see the film wherever you are in the world...
We are looking to raise £10,000, every penny of which will go to raise the profile of the Bill McLaren Foundation via the values the play focusses on, which Bill epitomised and which we all hold dear: courage, resilience, determination, love and an irrepressible spirit.
What makes Fighting the Enemy deserving of your support is our dedication to bring an untold story of Bill’s life and a battle over adversity to a wider, international audience.
The Firebrand team together with Alan and Linda Lawson are in no doubt that Fighting the Enemy has the potential to profoundly affect and garner both new and younger audiences and with the support from yourselves and The Bill McLaren Foundation, so many will be granted the opportunity to watch the film across the world. We would all be delighted to reach our target and together play a part in celebrating Bill’s life and legacy and the love he shared with Bette.
“An extremely emotional and entertaining night. A 5 star show. Like Bill McLaren himself, the play will live long in the memory and everyone involved in this production should be so proud of what they have achieved. " (Stuart Cameron of ITV, Sky, SRTV, BBC Scotland, TalkSPORT.)
“Telling the life story of such a national treasure is a daunting prospect but Firebrand have shown themselves more than up to the task.” (5***** Mark Palmer, Sunday Times)
“Funny, sad and uplifting.” (5***** Alasdair Reid, The Times)
"It certainly has been a wonderful, memorable week for our family and we’re thrilled that the production has brought all the plaudits you deserve." Linda Lawson (Bill McLaren’s daughter)
"I am still totally overwhelmed after having seen this incredible show about Papa and his life behind the mic. It was absolutely wonderful. So clever, raw, emotional, witty, thoughtful, sensitive and creative. It’s an absolute gift to watch a play so full of family history and love.." Lindsay Aitken (Bill’s Granddaughter)