[What follows is excerpted from a report in today’s edition of the Sunday Mail:]
Acclaimed film director Jim Sheridan wants Oscar winner Gary Oldman to star as Dr Jim Swire in his TV drama about the Lockerbie bombing.
The award-winning Irish film-maker is planning a television series about the 1988 terrorist attack and the grieving father’s pursuit of the truth about who was responsible.
Sheridan said he was not convinced that Abdelbaset al-Megrahi was guilty of the attack and backed the legal appeal against his conviction.
Oldman, who won an Oscar for best actor this month for his portrayal of Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour, is top of Sheridan’s list of actors to play Swire, whose daughter Flora, 23, was killed in the bombing.
Sheridan is best known for his film In the Name Of The Father, about the Guildford Four’s fight against their wrongful conviction. (...)
Sheridan has been working on a film about Lockerbie for years but now believes it should be a TV series made by a channel such as Netflix, HBO or Amazon. He said: “I gave the script to a few well-known actors and they came and said it should be a TV series.
“They said I was trying to cram too much into two hours.”
Asked who he wanted to play Swire, he said: “There are a lot of great actors in England and Ireland, like Gary Oldman, who just won the Oscar. Liam Neeson is a great actor, Daniel Day-Lewis is a great actor. I like Ralph Fiennes as an actor as well. It needs an actor of that calibre.” (...)
Sheridan hopes to begin filming the series this year.
He said: “I think it could be started by the 30th anniversary. We’ve had a lot of interest in the story and we’ve had a lot of actors respond to it as well.” (...)
Megrahi, a former Libyan intelligence agent, was the only person convicted of blowing up Pan Am Flight 103.
He was convicted in 2001 but released from Greenock prison by the Scottish Government eight years later after being diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer.
Megrahi died protesting his innocence and an appeal against his conviction was lodged last year.
Swire has led the campaign to clear his name.
Sheridan said: “The story of Jim Swire and Megrahi is an extraordinary one – Jim going to the guy he thought murdered his daughter, accepting he didn’t do it, helping him and then realising as a doctor that he wasn’t well.”
Asked what he admired most about Swire, Sheridan said: “His Christianity really is the main thing. He hasn’t become broken as a person or bitter. He has maintained a humanistic outlook where so many other people would become embittered.”
Swire believes Megrahi was innocent and that Iran bombed the jet as revenge for the shooting down of an Iranair flight by a US missile five months earlier. (...)
Sheridan said: “Lockerbie seems to me to be such an extraordinary story. But I don’t know if the truth will ever come out. I’m not sure it will happen in Jim’s lifetime.”
Megrahi was convicted of planting the Pan Am Flight 103 bomb in luggage at Malta airport.
The suitcase was supposedly transported to Frankfurt and then London before being put on the New York-bound Boeing 747, which blew up over Lockerbie half an hour into its flight.
But Swire believes the explosives were loaded on at Heathrow.
And Sheridan said: “Why would any person put a bomb on a plane that has to be taken off, put on another plane, and then taken off and put on a third plane, and then blows up half an hour into the flight?
“To get all that right, you would have to be both a genius and an idiot to set the bomb’s timer 30 minutes into the flight. It just doesn’t make any sense. I think it is much more likely that the bomb originated on the plane.”
Over the past 30 years, there have been claims that the FBI fabricated evidence to blame Libya for the Lockerbie bombing.
Sheridan said: “Can you imagine a situation where a plane carrying a lot of English passengers crashed in upstate New York and the English police came over and cordoned off the area and owned the investigation? So how did Scotland let it happen?”
Megrahi died protesting his innocence and an appeal against his conviction has been made by his widow Aisha and son Ali.