The Scots actress had a meteoric rise in theatre, but later her chaotic love life would provide the headlines.

Mary Ure.

Mary Ure’s work as an actor tends to be overshadowed by the men she married, in death as it was in life. Both her husbands were multi-talented men with forceful personalities; ‘Angry Young Man’ playwright John Osborne and Robert Shaw, star of The Sting (1973) and Jaws (1975). They were also boorish, selfish, abusive adulterers who saw their talent above her own. It’s difficult to write about her now without looking at the two relationships that dominated her short life.

Eileen Mary Ure was born on 18 February 1933 in Glasgow, Scotland. Her father, Colin, was a civil engineer. Her…


The new documentary tells the unlikely tale of the men who trained to take out Carlos Escobar on behalf of his competition.

Picture © Two Rivers Media

This fact-is-stranger-than-fiction documentary recounts the story of a group of mercenary soldiers from the UK who headed into Colombia to assassinate the largest cocaine manufacturer and distributor on the planet.

At the heart of the film is Peter McAleese, a soldier from Glasgow, who describes himself as “A dirty lowdown scumbag of a man.”

In the 1980s, Pablo Escobar was responsible for 80% of all the cocaine in the world. His Medellin Cartel flooded Miami with the white stuff. He ruled his empire with an iron fist doling out retribution to anyone who crossed him with unforgiving brutality. He had…


How a film developed only for its soundtrack with no plot and starring non-actors defied the odds to become a groundbreaking picture.

“Who are they?” Walter Shenson replied when he was asked if he would like to produce a film with The Beatles. Noel Rodgers, the British representative for United Artists Records, knew the UK’s Beatlemania was heading for the States and figured a way to cash in. He approached Bud Ornstein, the British production head of UA’s film division, with the idea of signing the Beatles to a three-picture deal.

Once Shenson, producer of The Mouse That Roared (1959) had been brought up to speed with the Beatle phenomena, he agreed to look into the prospect. UA assured him that if…


The story of the most significant art fraud in history where ruined reputations and wounded egos mattered more than money.

Made You Look A True Story About Fake Art on Netflix.

“No one wants to be fooled,” Ann Freedman says at the beginning of this highly entertaining documentary now on Netflix. The film documents an $80.7 million art forgery scandal perpetrated between 1995 and 2011 swallowing up some of the biggest names in the New York art world.

The deception began when in1995 Glafir Rosales walked into the Knoedler Gallery, which opened in New York City in1846, and presented them with a canvas apparently by Mark Rothko, the abstract painter who died by his own hand in 1970. Ann Freedman, the gallery director, and the documentary’s central figure, purchased the work…


In 1974 a smash-hit musical about The Beatles began in Liverpool. It broke box-office records, but some of The Beatles were none too pleased with it.

Page 11 of the Daily Mirror, 15 August 1974, announcing the opening night of John, Paul, George, Ringo…and Bert.
Page 11 of the Daily Mirror, 15 August 1974, announcing the opening night of John, Paul, George, Ringo…and Bert.
Page 11 of the Daily Mirror, 15 August 1974, announcing the show’s opening night.

The Everyman Theatre was based in Liverpool’s Hope Street. Originally known as the Hope Hall, it was formerly a dissenters’ chapel, then an arts cinema before, in 1964, it became a theatre and performance space. Unlike the city’s other big theatre, the Playhouse, where actors got the first train back to London, the Everyman’s performers stayed in the city and hung out at the venue. It was very consciously a community space. …


In the play featuring a fictional former member of The Quarrymen, the part was played by a man who really did pass up the chance to be in The Beatles

Arthur and George in a photograph taken by Arthur’s mother.

Willy Russell’s play John, Paul, George, Ringo…and Bert proved a runaway success in 1974 selling out the Everyman in Liverpool before moving to the Lyric in London’s West End. When it went out on a national tour in 1975 the cast changed. Stephen Mackenna, Nigel Hughes, Lloyd Johnson and George Panther now played the fab four. Eileen Woodman, formerly of The She Trinity, who released a cover version of Yellow Submarine in 1966, performed the music.

The role of the narrator Bert was played by Arthur Kelly. The Birmingham Daily Post’s review of the Wolverhampton show in April 1976 read…


Why Richard Burton’s turn as a Kray inspired gangster needs reappraised.

A screenshot of Richard Burton in Villain.

It’s hard not to mention Get Carter (1971) when discussing Villain; critics did it when the film was released, anyone reappraising the movie can’t help doing it now. The films came out within two months of one another in 1971, and they both feature two bona fide movie stars minted in Hollywood, coming back to the UK to play violent English gangsters. While the former is hailed as a classic Villain rarely receives such plaudits. But it’s well worth another look.

Richard Burton’s Vic Dakin is every inch the anti-hero, a ruthless gangster who can inflict fear with merely a…


The Beatles’ fourth visit to the city in December of 1965 turned out to be their last as a group.

John Lennon and Ringo Starr leave Glasgow’s Odeon Cinema by the side door.

What would turn out to be The Beatles’ final UK tour began in December 1965 with two shows in one night at Glasgow’s Odeon Cinema. Opening in 1934 and closing in 2006, the Odeon was situated at the junction between Renfield Street and West Regent Street in the city centre’s heart. The Beatles had played the Odeon Cinema three times previously. In June 1963 with Roy Orbison, then in their own right when they packed two houses in one night in both April and October of 1964.

Paul McCartney remembered their first appearance in the city when talking with John…


Russell T. Davies’s latest series set in the 1980s to the backdrop of the growing AIDS epidemic captures a world of fun, excitement, and terror in a tale of coming of age and coming out.

Picture copyright Channel Four.

The five-episode miniseries is set in London from 1981 to 1991. A group of 18-year-olds begins their new lives. As they live and love a virus begins to loom over them. It premiered on Channel Four in January and comes to HBO Max on 18th February.

After a decade in children’s television and soap operas, Russell T. Davies made his reputation with Queer as Folk (1999–2000), a show that moved gay characters on television from the shadows and placed them front and centre. …


A character actor throughout the 70s and 80s who held his own alongside everyone from Robert Mitchum to Frank Sinatra.

Steven Keats in Starsky and Hutch (1975). Copyright Spelling-Goldberg Productions.

“Nobody told Kirk Douglas to fill in the dimple on his chin, so why should they tell me to fill in the gap between my two front teeth? I can put caps on them, the same as I can put a hump on my back. That’s what an actor does; he changes physically and psychologically from role to role”.

1970s American films threw up a number of reliable character actors whose faces seem familiar even if you can’t always recall their names. Steven Keats may well fall into that bracket. …

Tom Brogan

Writing about writing, films, music, football and television.

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