Page last updated at 15:19 GMT, Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Powerlifting pensioner in film hit

By Pauline McLean
BBC Scotland arts correspondent

MrMcFadyen said he was shocked by the film's success

When Bill McFadyen's local paper ran an article about his appearance in a short film about weightlifting, they headlined it "Next Stop Hollywood for Stranraer's Bill McFadyen".

Less than a year later, it seems they were not exaggerating.

Ma Bar has already won a Scottish Bafta and later this week it will be screened at the Sundance Festival in Utah.

Sitting on his sofa in his seafront flat in Stranraer, 74-year-old Bill is still tickled by the amount of attention the film has garnered.

"I'd never have believed anyone would want to make a film about me at my age. I mean it's not exactly Rambo 9 or 10, is it?"

Film-makers Finlay Pretsell and Adrian McDowell were originally commissioned to make the 12-minute film by Dumfries and Galloway Council to mark the opening of the leisure centre DG One.

I'll have one more crack at the title. I'd be the first 75-year-old on the planet to do those kind of weights
Bill McFadyen

"They wanted three portraits of athletes so we had a great long list of athletes, at least 30," recalls Adrian.

"We saw this one, Bill McFadyen, aged 73, and we thought it was a typo. Then we met him and he was this great ball of energy and we thought we have to do something about Bill and Bill's world."

The film follows Bill's attempt to retain the world powerlifting title and tries to explain what motivates weightlifters.

It also explains the title Ma Bar, the phrase Bill yells as he picks up his weights.

"There's no point, tripping out like you're picking daisies. You've got to get the anger in you, real anger in you and just shout it out - ma bar!

Bill McFadyen
The film about Mr McFadyen has taken a Scottish Bafta

"That's what i shout - 'ma bar!'."

Bill says he is delighted the film-makers are off to Utah - particularly since Sundance is the brainchild of another Septuagenarian, Robert Redford.

But his own travels are far from over.

While cost and a shoulder injury mean a bid for the World Powerlifting Title in New Zealand is unlikely, he plans to be in Brussels in November for the European title.

"I'll have one more crack at the title - I'd be the first 75-year-old on the planet to do those kind of weights," he says.

"A lady friend of mine - and she's just a young woman - reckons I should keep going until I'm 80.

"I said jeez, can you imagine, I'd be creeping out with my zimmer frame and they'd have to life the bar up for me.

"But I will keep going as long as I can."

Print Sponsor

OAP weightlifter's movie delight
11 Nov 08 |  South of Scotland
Sun shines for Summer at Baftas
10 Nov 08 |  Scotland
Cinema opening for Govan zombies
15 May 08 |  Glasgow, Lanarkshire and West
Horror film premiere on horizon
16 Apr 08 |  South of Scotland

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2019 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific