Alasdair Gray helps theatre producer gran with Oran Mor play for cancer mum Claire

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A grandmother has come out of ‘retirement’ to help her daughter-in-law raise £200,000 towards her lifesaving cancer treatment.

Playwright and theatre producer Doreen McArdle, 75, has toured Scotland with her plays and production company.

But after the death of her husband, it has been many years since she last put on a show for an audience.

Poster: Artwork for the performance was provided by Alasdair Gray

That will change this week when Doreen, from Glasgow, resurrects her Ailsa Productions for a special performance in the West End of Glasgow.

Money from Double Trouble will go towards the Cure Claire’s Cancer campaign.

Claire Bothwell, 40, is married to Doreen’s son Liam. The couple have three young children.

Doreen told Glasgow West End Today: “I just wanted to do something for Claire for all she is going through.

“It’s amazing what her friends have done over the months to raise so much money.

“I thought this was the least I could do.

“It’s been an effort to get the evening organised but I’m grateful to all those people who have helped me out.”

Claire Bothwell
Mum: Claire with her daughter Indy

The writer and artist Alasdair Gray kindly provided the artwork for the show.

Three signed posters of his work will be raffled this week when Doreen’s special production is staged at Oran Mor.

The show will be feature dramatic readings of two of Doreen’s plays by actresses Libby McArthur and Kate Donnelly.

Claire’s friends and family have so far raised more than £114,000 towards a target of £200,000.

The mother of three, who was diagnosed with bowel cancer in June 2016, is keeping friends and supporters up to date with her cancer journey and treatment in a revealing and humorous blog.

She writes of her mother in laws production: “‘I just want to do something to help you’, Doreen said to me a few weeks ago when she phoned me up to tell me that she had decided to put on a show to raise money for my medical fund.

“Doreen used to put on shows for a living and I have been regaled with near mythical stories for years about how she toured her plays around Scotland and sold out venues up and down the country.”


Doreen said: “We need as many tickets to sell as we possibly can.

“I’ve been sending out fliers to people I know, and we have sold quite a few that way.

“I can’t thank Libby and Kate enough for giving their time free of charge.

“Everyone has made a huge effort to make the night possible.

“Alasdair is so giving and so modest of his talent.”

Claire was told tumours that had spread to her pelvis were inoperable.

To make matters worse, Claire, who lives in Patrick with her documentary maker husband Liam and three children, was diagnosed with an unrelated cancer, follicular lymphoma.

Her second cancer means that she doesn’t quality for NHS clinical trials.

Undeterred, friends and family have set about a gargantuan fundraising effort to give her hope of pioneering treatment overseas.

Claire thinks her best hope of seeing her children reach adulthood is through trials of groundbreaking immunotherapy treatments in either the US or China.


Before Christmas an auction of donated art works by leading Scottish artists such as Jack Vettriano, John Byrne and Rachel Maclean raised more than £20,000.

Doreen’s play about the love life of a woman in her 60s will be premiered this Thursday in Glasgow.

Claire jokes in her blog that the play’s subject will make uncomfortable viewing for Doreen’s son.

She writes in her blog: “My husband, Liam, is pretty sure it’s about her own (Doreen’s) love life and has not been able to bring himself to read it.

“I will be sitting next to Liam and his siblings as they squirm their way through the performance.”

* Double Trouble, directed by Andy Arnold is at Oran Mor on Thursday February 21, at 7.30pm.

For more details visit Cure Claire’s Cancer website at

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