As the plot thickens in Channel 4’s thrilling new series Murder Island, which is filmed on Gigha, Claire Mitchell QC puts the amateur detectives through their paces as they try to build a case.
Here, she tells Jacqueline Wake Young about some of the twists and turns in her own life.
Q. Favourite part of Scotland to explore?
A. The islands! I love exploring and I have a VW camper which I travel about in at every opportunity – I hadn’t been to Gigha (where Murder Island was filmed) before, so it was great to get to see it whilst filming – it’s a beautiful island.
Q. Dream dinner party guests?
A. This would change every week, but sticking with the current theme I would have a murder-mystery night and invite Edgar Allan Poe, Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker and Agatha Christie. Oh, and I would serve absinthe cocktails.
Q. Describe yourself as if you were a fine wine?
A. A passionate red with mysterious undertones.
Q. Tell us something about you that most people don’t know?
A. I’m a black belt in Karate.
Q. What makes you happy?
A. Having good food and drink with good people.
Q. What are you proudest of?
A. I became a QC in 2019 and I am very proud of that – I’m from an ordinary working-class family, educated at a comprehensive school with no connections in the law and I never ever thought that one day I would be a Queens Counsel.
Q. What advice would you give your younger self?
A. I’m not sure that older me has learned that much so I don’t think I would give myself any advice. I probably wouldn’t listen to it anyways!
Q. Who do you most admire?
A. How big is this article? I admire so many different people for so many different reasons I’m not sure I could even begin here. The characteristic I admire most in people is kindness.
Q. If you could go back to any point in history, when would it be?
A. I would go back to the 16th Century and try and stop the Witchcraft Act of 1536 being made law.
The act was used to subjugate people, mostly women, for two centuries and resulted in the biggest miscarriage of justice ever in Scottish history. I’m currently campaigning to have those people who were accused and killed as witches pardoned.
Q. If you could rule for a day, what would be the first thing you would do?
A. This is too difficult! Assuming I was ruling the world, I would make the issue of climate change a top priority for every country.
Q. What was the last book you read?
A. I’m on the panel of the Bloody Scotland book club and this month one of the books is, co-incidentally – an Ian Rankin book – Black and Blue (Ian Rankin wrote the story for Murder Island). It’s the Rebus book which really established him and it’s a brilliant snapshot of Scotland at the time it was written.
Q. What is the best concert you’ve ever been to?
A. Prince in Glasgow – afterwards he did a live aftershow gig at the Garage and it was hands down the best night of music ever.
Q. If you could turn back the clock what one thing would you change?
A. For me personally, nothing. It’s not that I don’t regret things, but everything that has happened has led me to the present, and I’m quite happy here.
Q. Theme song for your life?
A. George Benson – Gimme the Night. It’s not only one of the best tunes to dance to, but as a night owl I like the sentiment.
Q. What’s your motto?
A. Don’t take criticism from someone you would not go to for advice.
Q. What keeps you awake at night?
A. Nothing! I don’t sleep till 1 or 2am and then I’ll crash out – my brain is usually too tired to worry about anything.
Q. What was your plan B in terms of a career?
A. I was going to do Film & TV Studies if I didn’t get into law… so I suppose in a funny way I’m coming full circle with that by being involved in Murder Island.
Q. If you had to save one item in a hurry, what would it be?
A. Boring but true – my mobile. I’m not really attached to many possessions but my mobile contains my whole life.
Q. Where in the world are you happiest?
A. In France, travelling in the campervan, visiting family and friends.
Q. Happiest memory?
A. How can you narrow these down? My happiest law-related memory is becoming an advocate – myself and one of my oldest and best pals became an advocate the same day and we had a great party with our family and friends.
Q. Favourite meal?
A. I’m a vegetarian and my favourite food is Middle Eastern, so a mezze of Lebanese food is probably my perfect choice.
Q. What skill do you wish you had but don’t?
A. Singing. I would love to be able to hold a tune, but as those who have heard me sing karaoke will testify, I can’t.
Q. Your most useless talent?
A. Remembering the lyrics to just about every Eighties song I ever heard, regardless of whether I liked it or not.
Q. Who’s the most famous person you’ve met?
A. I think it would have to be our first minister – she is known worldwide. Nicola and I met in first year at uni and we’ve remained pals ever since.