National coverage for play marking 400th anniversary of Pendle Witch trials

BBC film for Countryfile in the shadow of Pendle Hill.'Photo Ben Parsons
BBC film for Countryfile in the shadow of Pendle Hill.'Photo Ben Parsons
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A NEW drama by playwright Richard MacSween was all set for a premiere in Pendle - but its now going nationwide!

It is about the Pendle Witches - although in a contemporary format - and samples of it have been filmed by BBC’s Countryfile team in the Pendleside country. Popular presenter Ellie Harrison was there to launch the story.

BBC film for Countryfile in the shadow of Pendle Hill.'Photo Ben Parsons

BBC film for Countryfile in the shadow of Pendle Hill.'Photo Ben Parsons

Thanks to things like Richard’s play “Devilish Practices”, the Pendle Witches Festival - marking the 400th anniversary of the Pendle Witch Trials of 1612 - will reach around seven million viewers on TV!

Sarah Lee, from Pendle Council’s communications team, explained: “BBC Countryfile was here last week filming our beautiful countryside and featuring exciting events for our festival.

“They interviewed Pendle Witches expert Simon Entwistle, who told the true story of the Pendle Witches against the stunning backdrop of Pendle Hill.

“They also filmed rehearsals for Pendle Borderline Theatre Company’s ‘Devilish Practices’ – a play written specially for the 400th anniversary.”

Ellie Harrison with Borderline cast for "Devilish Practices".

Ellie Harrison with Borderline cast for "Devilish Practices".

Ellie Harrison was present when Borderline was filmed in the countryside and she also interviewed Simon Entwistle. She said: “It’s been beautiful seeing this area - its countryside is very attractive. I didn’t know the story of the Pendle Witches and it’s been fascinating to find out about it. We have looked at the facts rather than the sentimentality.”

Ellie revealed that the film footage would be in Countryfile on Sunday, April 15th, and she said she had enjoyed the samples of the play.

It is a contemporised version of the Pendle Witches and includes songs. Richard said: “It’s a varied kind of a night!”

It will have its official premiere at The Muni in Colne from May 23rd to 26th, directed by Lesley Playfer. The cast is Adrian Hartley, Jan Playfer, Alan Hargreaves, James Bateman, Marilyn Crowther, Jackie Catlow, Maureen Roberts, Michelle Shelton, Kelly Sheppard, Rachael Bailey, Keilli Broome and Ian Bell.

BBC Coutryfile filming Borderline in Pendleside

BBC Coutryfile filming Borderline in Pendleside

Richard said: “I’m hopeful the tired black-pointy-hat-and-broomstick cliché won’t be making an appearance, and refreshingly Countryfile were also sceptical about the idea of ‘witches’ as some kind of New Age herbalist-healers.

“I think they agreed with our approach in the play, that we owe it to the memory of those women and men who were hanged four hundred years back to treat that terrible event with respect. But – let’s see how the programme turns out!”

Anyone interested in getting a ticket can contact www.themuni.co.uk or ring 661234.

A free flier featuring over 40 events for the Pendle Witches Festival is available from Discover Pendle, Pendle Heritage Centre and many other outlets or online from www.visitpendle.com

l After Lancaster Castle finally ceased to be a real prison, it is now possible for the public to see the entrance to the dungeon where the Pendle Witches were held before being executed. Elizabeth “Demdike” Southern died there while in custody.