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Find out who the main characters are in the screenplay for Burke and Hare - The West Post Murders from the heroic to the villainous.



A 29 year old Irish immigrant who served in the army and worked as a labourer. Uneducated, he relies more on his brawn than his head. Easily led, he has a vulnerability to his character, but he can be impulsive.

He sometimes thinks he is cleverer than he really is, which can lead him to become argumentative and aggressive. His head is easily muddled, resulting in fluctuating emotions between greed and guilt.

Dedicated to his partner, Helen McDougal, he wants to provide her with a life more prosperous than the one they have.

He initially possesses an unquestionable respect for Hare, but this is soon tested.


A 28 year old Irish immigrant who served in the army and worked as a labourer. He may be uneducated, but he is cunning, manipulative and psychopathic.

His only interests are in his self and he will do anything to achieve his objectives.

Married to Margaret, their partnership, to him, is only one of convenience. Uncouth at heart, he can change character depending on the situation from subservient to aggressor.

He is the one who drives forward the plan that is hatched and he will take no prisoners in his personal journey.

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Archibald Johnson

28 year old who works for the Edinburgh Courant as a reporter, he is a man of moral conviction and trustworthy.

His over confidence can lead him into taking risks, which can impact on others, even if well intentioned.

This is a man who is determined and driven to achieve his objectives. Well respected, others see him as someone who is reliable and capable of delivering any task given to him.

Although he is one to refrain from violence, if push comes to shove there is an inner part of him that can cross the Rubicon into a darker place.

Margaret Hare

An Irish immigrant, mother and owner of the lodgings where the foursome live, Margaret has a streak of selfishness that is only matched by her sense of entitlement.

Although devoted to Hare, she sees herself as the matriarch and is not shy to remind him who is boss, that can result in a battle of wills with her companion.

Her greed for wealth drives her to enthusiastically play her part in the plan with the expectation that anyone who shows signs contrary to her commitment is eyed with suspicion.

Helen McDougal

The youngest of the foursome, Helen comes from a solid family background based in the Scottish countryside that has formed a moral compass in her character. Even so, there is a lack of strength in character that can allow her to submit to the opinion of the majority, allowing her head to be clouded by pressure, but when forced into a corner her sense of survivalism can reveal a hard edge willing to revert to violence.

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Dr. Robert Knox

Educated and self confident, Knox sees himself as a man of destiny. Driven to reach his career objectives within the world of anatomy, his morals can be bypassed if it means success in his achievements.

His pomposity reveals his discard for others, but he has the self control to expose it depending on the circumstances and company he keeps.

Sharp of mind, he revels in the adoration afforded by his students, projecting himself as a man of authority and mentor to all who will follow with the power of his status dazzling others to bid his will.

Andrew Merrilees

Here stands a man vicious to the core. Leader of an organised crime gang, he holds no respect to life or law. Viewing the world through his prism of greed and power, there are no boundaries in his psyche. 

Cunning and intimidating, his presence wreaks fear, as he lurks in the shadows where authorities will not tread. 

Described as one who “sits with the devil”, Merrilees is not a man to be crossed for to do so would surely result in a risk to life.

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Sergeant Fisher

A no nonsense man, Fisher exudes authority and control as he runs the police station with an iron grip.

Broad in stature with hands like shovels, he doesn’t suffer fools gladly and is intimidated by no-one, irrespective of their status.

He strides forth, bringing order and reassurance to the people of the city among the streets where crowds part in his presence for he is the law and woe betide anyone who falls foul of his judgement.


Scuttling in the shadows, Dapper keeps his ear to the ground. A sneaky, devious snitch, he is the last person you would want to trust.

Unkempt with a body odour that could empty a room, this delinquent is always looking to make a fast buck. He will greet you with an uncomfortable smile, but behind his beady eyes he is nurturing a cunning plan. 


David Paterson

Knox’s doorman and all round dog’s body is a sleekit individual. Organised and hard working, he seeks opportunity to please his master who he is indefatigably loyal to.

He is a solitary figure who lives alone in the same poor West Port vicinity, content with his lot. Although receiving a regular wage, if there is a chance to earn a few more coins, he will grasp the moment.

With a reserved admiration for Burke and Hare, murder is not beyond his means.

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