Bell baxter lives section I former Pupils Contents

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Marjory Berwick

BBS 1935-41

Mrs Marjory Malcolm entered BBS in 1935 and went up to St Andrews University in 1941 graduating MB ChB in 1946. She got married in 1949 to John Malcolm, who qualified LDS (Dundee) in 1945. She lived in Arbroath, Glasgow and Nuneaton and latterly Kinross.

Mary S Berwick

Mrs Mary Williamson entered BBS in 1934. She took a Diploma of PE at Dunfermline College and eventually became Principal Teacher of PE at Lenzie Academy. Mary also taught at Dollar Academy and was a Hockey International Trialist; Mrs Williamson, Tarvit, Garngalier Avenue, Lenzie

Peter Berwick

Farmed Tarvit Mill Farm, Cupar. Attended BBS in the early 1940s.

Albert W Bethune

BSc MSc PhD (Toronto); Flying Officer in RCAF; Chief Engineer in Materials Research with De Havilland Aircraft Co of Canada; 5 Seinecliffe Rd., R.R1, Thornhill, Ontario. Attended BBS in the early 1940s.

John Bett

Since eschewing academia by the dramatic and satisfying gesture of throwing all his books into the sea whilst attending St. Andrews University, John has gone on to have a successful career in drama and is becoming increasingly well known as an actor, writer and director. He gained his first foothold in the professional theatre at the old Dundee Rep in Lochee Road in 1968 at the outstanding wage of £4:10/- a week. Since then he has played in practically every theatre in Scotland, not to mention Community and Arts centres and town and village halls. Furth of Scotland he has performed from Newcastle to Sicily and many points in between, including Dublin, London's West End and Paris. Just a few of his successes on stage, film and television include:- "The Great Northern Welly-Boot Show" with Billy Connolly, "The Cheviot, The Stag and The Black Black Oil" with the 7.84 Theatre, "The First Great Train Robbery" in 1978, "Gregory's Girl", "Tess" (directed by Roman Polanski), "Scotch and Wry", "City Lights" and "Rab C. Nesbitt". He has recently (this article appeared in Issue 2 of the FPA Newsletter) completed an episode for a new series "I Lovett", which will be shown in the Autumn.

Whilst at Dundee Rep., John started writing children's shows for "The Theatre in Education Group" and he has pursued this ever since. He has written stories, poems and drama for radio and television, including 6 radio plays for adults and many episodes of the serial "Kilbreck".

His play "Talk About It" (Traverse Theatre), was a Fringe First Award. His first full-length television play, "Mad McGonagall", was shown on BBC2 in January this year, and recently his second was accepted. "Him and Her" will go into production soon.

In an exciting and varied career, John cites as one of his proudest achievements a production of "Macbeth" on Inchcolm Island, which he both devised and directed for the Edinburgh Festival in 1989. The audience, dressed in grey blankets to protect them from the frequently inclement weather, arrived by boat and were promenaded round the island to witness a production which was hailed as "a major landmark in Scottish theatre".

John's production of "See That's Her" - a one-woman show starring Dorothy Paul - is currently making its third successful tour of Scotland. It will be filmed later this year for television.

Though his life is to some extent nomadic, John has recently returned to live in Fife with his wife, the actress Sarah Collier. They divide their time between here and London, enjoying both the rural and the urban scene, and they have a small son, Leo, who is now 4. They share a great passion for Italy and they were married in the mediaeval Palazzo Pubblico in the Campo by the Mayor of Siena.

In 1986, John, in partnership with his mother, Flora, opened a bookshop in the Kirkgate, Cupar - "Bell, Book and Candle". The foundations of this exciting career can be traced to some of the activities John was involved in at school: playing the Major General in a school production of Pirates of Penzance; appearing in a rehearsal reading of the play, "The Dumb Waiter", with the teacher George Scott, who also made it possible for John to visit and interview, for the school magazine, the poet Hugh McDiarmid, ‘the founder of the Scottish Literary Renaissance’; delivering the Immortal memory in the school canteen; leading the school Debating Society to victory in the regional finals; winning a Travel Scholarship to Berlin, Warsaw and Moscow; and being encouraged in his writing and translating by the Russian teacher, the broadcaster W. Ross Napier.

Another fun activity in which he can trace the roots of his later life in comedy and drama was winning the School Mock Election as an "Independent Preservative".

We look forward eagerly to fresh successes for many years to come.

From Issue 8 of the FPA Newsletter we have the following:

John Bett (1960 approx) is the Co Writer/Director of the BAFTA Award winning one-woman show Just Dorothy starring Dorothy Paul. This is John's fourth show with Dorothy. Last year, he appeared in Shallow Grave, Down Among the Big Boys and is in two episodes of the forthcoming Baldy Man. He directed a revival of Oh, What A Lovely War at the Citizen's Theatre, Glasgow.

In the Autumn he produced The Silver Darlings for the Wildcat Theatre Company. He has also had successes as a writer, with Follow, Follow at the King's Theatre, Glasgow and the pantomime Goosey, Goosey Glasgow at the Pavilion. He is now working on a new musical play which will mark the bi-centenary of Robert Burns.

From Newsletter Issue 24:

John Bett, who made his debut on the stage of Bell Baxter School Hall in the mid-1960s, has recently been very active in the area and the Fife Herald gave a full report. He has been playing the part of Sir Toby Belch in Twelfth Night at Dundee Rep. St Andrews has also been the beneficiary of his work, for he has co-written and produced the opening play of the Byre Theatre's autumn season, A Happy Medium, starring the well known actress, Dorothy Paul. As if that were not enough to be going on with, he also entertained the Rep audience one evening with his A Tale of Hoffman. John's first professional appearance was in Dundee Rep's Aladdin in 1968, when he played the inside of a washing machine! He had begun his studies at St Andrews University, but quickly decided that the academic world was not for him. He has said that he literally threw his books into the sea! (What a waste. One would have thought that, as a Fifer born and bred, he would have found a more profitable way of disposing of them. Ed.) He was a founder member of the 7:84 Theatre company - now defunct - which hit the headlines with the play The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil, in which John played a major part. His work has involved him in acting in many countries as well as all over the UK and has included television work, notably with Rikki Fulton in Scotch and Wry, and alongside John Thaw in Inspector Morse. Recently he had a role in Harold Pinter's Production of Proust's Remembrance of Things Past at the National Theatre. For his writing he was awarded a BAFTA Light Entertainment award for one of the shows he has written for and with Dorothy Paul. He and his wife, actress Sarah Collier, live in Brighton, with their 15-year old son Leo. (So now we know where Tony Blair got the name for his youngest son! Ed.)

Recently the Scotsman included a light-hearted interview withJohn Bett,described by the interviewer as ‘one of the UK's most prominent theatre actors’. John was at the end of last year playing Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol at the Royal Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh.

Asked who was the most influential person in his life, John mentioned first two of his former teachers - his English teacher, the late George Scott, and his Russian teacher, Ross Napier (not W. Ross as reported in the Scotsman). He also paid tribute to the friendship and advice of the poets Hugh McDiarmid and Alan Bold, the novelist Florence Turner, directors Donald Sartain and Jimmy Lovell and the playwright John McGrath. In jocular vein, John revealed in answer to the appropriate questions that his favourite dessert is crême brulée, under the bed he has undisturbed dust, he sings in the shower, including psalms and hymns, and his first date was on Waternish on the Isle of Skye at the age of five and a half. He sees art in all its forms as very important to him. ‘I view it as a manifestation of the human spirit, the space between words, a short-cut to the soul’. John lives in Brighton with his wife and his 17- year old son, Leo.

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