Bill McLaren: Fighting The Enemy


Following the sold-out success of their acclaimed 2019 production of Bill McLaren: The Voice Of Rugby, award-winning Scottish Borders based Firebrand present an imaginative, funny and moving new romantic drama about an unknown chapter of the rugby legend’s young life and its fascinating links to George Orwell, the author of the greatest novel of the twentieth century, 1984.

It is 1948 and Scotland is suffering an unprecedented epidemic of a disease with no known cure.

Bill McLaren, a charismatic young war hero on the brink of a promising career as a rugby international, is struck down by tuberculosis, the “captain of the men of death”. Bill’s life shrinks to within the walls of a bleak sanatorium miles from home and his only contact with the outside world is through letters and precious weekly visits from his loyal girlfriend, Bette Hill.

In another TB sanatorium near Glasgow, the author George Orwell, fresh from the world-wide success of Animal Farm, is struggling to finish his latest novel—a cautionary vision of the future. But he hasn’t yet decided on a title…

Using his new-found wealth and influence, Orwell is the first patient in Scotland to obtain the new American “miracle cure” streptomycin, in the hope it will keep him alive long enough to finish his masterpiece.

With his health also dangerously failing, but helped by the new National Health Service, McLaren is one of just five others offered a free trial of the dangerous wonder drug. But he is told he has only a one-in-three chance of survival.

Which man will win the fight against the enemy?

Staged as a live radio play performance in period costume and spiced with humour, romance and nostalgic song, Firebrand’s uplifting new drama will interweave scenes from Orwell’s 1984 with Bill McLaren’s richly entertaining diary entries and unpublished letters to Bette, celebrating the vital human qualities of courage, creativity and resilience while telling the passionate untold love story that helped shape the Man behind the Voice.

The critics on Bill McLaren: The Voice of Rugby:
“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)
“A superb production…A very long standing ovation at the end and an extremely emotional and entertaining night. A 5 star show.” (@StuartCameronTV)
“Funny, sad and uplifting.” (5***** Alasdair Reid, The Times)

Live Borders will be hosting a Q&A with Firebrand and The Bill McLaren Foundation directly after the Saturday evening performance.

6th and 7th November
2.30 and 19.00
Tickets £12.50
Age 12+

Click HERE to book your tickets!

When & where

  • Heart of Hawick

  • From 14:30 / 19:00
  • To 15:30 / 20:00