Freekirk Douglas RIP

12 02 2020

We’re sad to report the passing of movie legend Freekirk Douglas, who has died at the age of 103. A veteran of Holywood ( Stornoway’s famous religious film-making industry), Douglas was still acting and doing his own stunts up until last Tuesday afternoon.

Freekirk was a cousin of the late Kirk Douglas, who also died recently in America. Sadly Kirk and Freekirk hadn’t been on speaking terms since 1843, when a discussion on lairds appointing ministers or something degenerated into what the sheriff court column of the Gazette described as a “disruption” outside the Star Inn.

Born Ist-thu Domhnalliainovitch, the son of impoverished fuidheag-dealer immigrants from pre-revolutionary Tsarist Sheshader, Douglas was fascinated by acting from an early age. At the Amarybank Academy of Dramatic Arts (and Livestock Management) in Newvalley, Douglas studied the Mehhh-thod acting techniques of Charles Tolstanislavski, and after graduating, soon began to make his name on stage and screen.

Let’s take a brief look back at some of Freekirk’s masterpieces from the golden age of Holywood:

Spàganagus- Based loosely on the popular Gaelic children’s books, but with content slightly less suitable for its usual aged 6-8 readership, this historical epic sees the friendly purple monster Spàgan (Douglas) discovering to his surprise that he’s a slave during the Roman occupation of Stordinium (see previous MUHOS entry) and has been sent to Gladiator training school at the Coll-oseum. Spàgan soon leads a slave revolt and almost defeats the Roman Empire, but ends up getting caught and crucified on Dan Dougal’s Brae. Standout scenes from the film include the bit where the slaves were asked who hasn’t paid for a Spar Take Away Coffee Cup and they all pointed to Freekirk ( admittedly it didn’t have the same impact as his cousin’s “Spartacus”). Spàganagus was perhaps Douglas’s most famous film, co-starred Lawrence Oliversbrae, Peter Uistinov, Jean Simonsroad and Tony Cearc-is as Antandecus, and was directed by Stanley Cù-brick.

The Strange Loves of Martha Ivorhill (1946) with Barbara Sandwyck.

Young Ram with 2 Horns (1950) with Dùinandoris Dé and Lauren Bac-coll, in which Douglas plays legendary jazz chanterist Bix BrevigBacke.

Gunfight at the OK Communions with Cearc Douglas as Wyatt Earshader and Freekirk as cuireamach gunslinger Doc Holyday

The Heroes of Texel Mark- Stornowegian resistance fighters in WW2 blow up the paint factory that produced the paint used for marking sheep, as the Nazis were trying to develop Heavy Paint and New Clear Wool.

Lust for Lithe – biopic about the tragic life of local fish salesman and p*ss-artist Vincent Fishvan Gogh

The Baaah and the Beautiful – with Lamb-a Turner

The Marvik-ings-pillaging down the coast of Lochs

The Todhar Wagon (1967) – John Wayne returns to Ness after 3 years in jail and enlists safecracker Douglas’s help to steal a valuable cargo of manure being transported to Sweeney’s potato feannag in a heavily-armed trailer.

Is Harris Burning? – moor burning goes wrong in North Harris. Freekirk played the role of General Tweedpattern.

Stornoway Aths of Glory- three wrongly convicted Aths players have to go up before the Lewis and Harris Football Association to get their red cards annulled.

20000 Leaks under the Seaforth -an on call plumbers story. All the beer pumps start leaking under the Seaforth Public Bar putting the Galaxy Disco and An Evening With Philomena Begley in jeopardy. Based on the book by Jewsons Verne and featuring the notable Captain Zebo character.

On the news of Douglas’s death, tributes poured in from his family, friends and showbusiness colleagues. But the end of an era represented by the screen legend’s demise is probably best summed up by the headline in respected Holywood trade magazine the Fr** Ch*rch M*nthly R*cord: “Freekirk Douglas is No Longer (Continuing)”.





Nicolsonroad Parsons

2 02 2020

It’s been a sad week for mainland comedy fans, with the passing of “Just a Minute” host and lechendary “Sale of the Century” quizmaster Nicholas Parsons.

Sadly this has meant that the demise of Parsons’ island cousin in the same week has been largely ignored on the other side of the Minch. At any other time there’d no doubt have been a big fuss, since the departed celebriy’s Leodhasach relation as himself a much loved fixture of BBC Alba, Radio Ranol and the Playhouse Cinema.

Known for his gentlemanly manners and immaculate attire – cravat, blazer, crisply pressed boiler suit and wellies polished to a dazzling shine, Nicolsonroad Parsons was born in 1853 to posh parents in Stornoway’s exclusive suburb of Goathill.

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At school Nicolsonroad was thick as fleek, so instead of becoming a doctor or a minister he was apprenticed as a trainee barnacle scraper at the Patent Slip. Strangely, this proved to be the genesis of his acting career. His refined Goathill enunciation marked him out for regular batterings from his proletarian colleagues, so Parsons quickly learned how to mimic his fellow workers by adopting an Inaclete Road accent.

He was ruppish at it, however, and the batterings continued – with increased intensity because everybody now thought he was taking the p*** with his: “Ei say, old cove, shaw deich tessden. Fawlaw shee-yas gooh Cath-ay Yee-ha-wool’s an get one a quarter bottle ow Trawler Raahm awhhgawss ten Woodbine, theah’s a good chep”. This proved fortuitous as, wandering along Newton one day with a black eye, several missing front teeth and numerous splints and bandages, he was spotted by a producer and offered a part in the Stornoway Thespians’ critically-acclaimed 1887 production of “Emergency Ward Hen”.

A busy career on stage, film, radio and TV followed, including a starring stage role in Arse and Old Lice, voiceover roles in Gerry Andersonroad’s puppet “Westren” series Four Heather Falls, The Bennydrove Hill Show, and a long-running role as straight man to egomaniac comedy diva Arthur “Mise ‘s Mi” Fheins. On the verge of breaking big in America, Fheins became paranoid that Parsons was becoming more popular than he was, and gave Parsons the big bròg after an appearance on the Ed Suilven show.

In 1967 Parsons was hired by Radio Ranol to present “Church a Minute”, a panel show in which contestants had to improvise a 60 second prayer without hesitation, repetition, or deviation into the doctrines of Presbyterian splinter groups other than their own. Following audience complaints after the pilot episode, the show was soon relaunched as “Church an Hour (And a Half at Least)” and has run in this form until the present day.

Regular guests in the early years included the Rev Kennethstreet Williams (FP, Cari-onshader), Rev Hensly Nimmo (Backsliding Easy-osy Church of Sasanaich, Stornoway), Rev Stclements Freud (Rodel) and the Rev Peat-er Jones, who was also the voice of the Book in BBC Alba’s “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Disco”.

As the old contestants expired, they were replaced with younger ministers from the world of “alternative communion-dy” such as South Harris’s Rev Graham Northton and happy-clappy townie the Rev Paul Mertonsmemorial, but Parsons himself remained a constant of the show for over 52 years.

Of course, if you’re not a Radio Ranol listener, you may remember Parsons best for his legendary Aiginish TV quiz show “Sale of the Cemetery” ‘And now, from Knock(wich), it’s the quiz of the week’, boomed the familiar intro at the top of the show, as contestants competed for a series of increasingly expensive and prestigious lairs in the nearby graveyard.