World-renowned forensic anthropologist Professor Sue Black discusses her career and her new book with Caroline Lindsay, examining the many faces of death and the lessons she has learned from it.
Three human skulls sit on Professor Sue Black’s office shelves, two in profile and one looking directly into the room. While some people might prefer a nice paperweight or other cosy knick-knacks, Sue is entirely at home with the skulls – after all, they represent what she does and who she is.
One of the world’s leading anatomists and forensic anthropologists, Sue has led the award-winning Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification (CAHID) at Dundee University for the last 15 years. Focusing on mortal remains in her lab, at burial sites and scenes of violence and murder, her work has been crucial to many high-profile criminal cases.
In 1999 she was lead anthropologist for the British Forensic Team’s work in the war crimes investigation in Kosovo, and was one of the first forensic scientists to travel to Thailand following the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004 to provide assistance in identifying the dead.
Last week’s episode seemed unfazed by the recent comments by Hislop and Merton about women appearing on the programme. This may change tonight as there’s a woman hosting.
It seems to be a bit of a quiz theme in tonight’s choice of guests. Victoria Coren Mitchell is hosting tonight, with one of the contestants being Richard Osman. The other guest is the crime novelist Val McDermid, who is no stranger to quizzes herself as she is a regular on Radio 4 cryptic Round Britain Quiz.
A MORE than crowded house at Oran Mor for this new play by Val McDermid – and for those unaware of publicity details, maybe an expectation of the violent crime stories that McDermid is known for.
Is the eponymous Margaret going to save Scotland by engineering the demise of political figures in Westminster? Not a bit of it. This Margaret – inspired by a now deceased friend of McDermid’s – is a wee girl who lives in Yorkshire but who, after a family holiday, returns to Keighley with Scotland evermore written on her heart.
What follows is a tale where truth eclipses fiction, although McDermid – with director Marilyn Imrie onside – has tweaked aspects of what actually happened for comic, poignant and certainly sentimental effect. The nine-year old Margaret decides that Scotland should regain its freedom, makes it her mission to rouse that nation to rise up … and runs away from home to kickstart a campaign for independence. The year, by the way, is 1958.
Politics aside, you’ll find it hard not to be inveigled into the little girl’s enthusiasms. Tori Burgess’s Margaret – very much a 50s schoolgirl in neat uniform, short socks and sensible shoes – is a mettlesome wee besom who, even if her historical sources get criss-crossed with the romance and derring-do of films like Casablanca, is determined to keep faith with her dreams.
Upbeat, thoroughly engaging performances, too, from Clare Waugh and Simon Donaldson as her well-meaning parents, switching bits of costume and accents to play the other characters along Margaret’s way. They play a variety of musical instruments too, for this is a one-act where songs – Over the Sea to Skye, among them – are a vibrant part of McDermid’s tender, whimsical tribute to her friend Margaret.
Presented in association with Aberdeen Performing Arts and Traverse Theatre.