Leasan sa Bhàs ("A Lesson In Death")

Posted on 14 May 2011

In October 2011, our drama documentary "Leasan sa Bhàs (A Lesson In Death)" was broadcast on BBC ALBA. It was the result of painstaking personal research by our Producer Diane Maclean, whose fascination with the island of Scarp led to two commissions for Sorbier. The first was a perfect murder mystery, and a true story ....

John Abercrombie arrived on Scarp in 1886, a perfectly healthy man. Three years later he was dead. The scattered descendants of his island pupils still talk about the night he died and wonder…was there a murderess lurking unknown on Scarp? This is a largely forgotten tale of dark intrigue; lust, deceit, opium addiction and a schoolmaster very probably murdered by his much younger wife.

Annie-Jane Murphy arrived on the island in 1887, as the school sewing mistress. Within no time, she and Abercrombie were married in Amhuinnsuidhe Castle, Harris. Murphy had a rather colourful past which the wedding certificate did not reveal ... in our film, all comes to light ....

The murky death of the “Dominie” unfolds in tasteful drama, and interviews with those who recall the tale as it passed down through the oral tradition - to a final, chilling revelation. "Leasan sa Bhàs" was directed by Paul Holmes, filmed by Ian Dodds and edited by Marion Macdonald.