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Blood Red Roses (1986)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

In 1986, middle-aged Bessie McGuigan and her three daughters, including her new baby, return to the Scottish highlands for her father's funeral. As the service proceeds, she remembers her early life.

In 1952, returning from school aged thirteen, Bessie fights a boy who insults her mother, but when she reaches home she finds the woman about to leave with her lover. Rather than go away with them, Bessie runs and hides until they drive off. She then prepares a meal to welcome home her father, Sandy Gordon, who has been invalided out of the army after twelve years' service, following the loss of a leg in action. The following day they leave their rural backwater for the new town of East Kilbride, near Glasgow, where they get a cool reception from Sandy's stern sister Ella. But they stay, and Bessie soon becomes best friends with her cousin Catriona.

At school, Bessie rebels against the teachers who taunt her with being 'a highland lassie' and assume she will do nothing with her life. When they leave school, the two girls start work at the local factory, Scottish Accounting Machines. When Catriona feels ill one day, Bessie takes her outside for some fresh air, but attracts the unwelcome attention of the superviser, Mrs. Dundonald. Bessie stands up to her, and is noticed by Alex McGuigan, the shop steward, who takes her side. Bessie is attracted to Alex and intrigued by his communist ideology. She invites him to tea and to meet her father. She also joins the union.

Bessie and Alex marry, and set up in a flat, where Sandy joins them. The first child is born when Alex is out campaigning for the Labour Party during the 1959 election. The Conservatives win. When Scottish Accounting is taken over by a larger company, Intertrust London Ltd., the union goes into action to save the jobs at risk.