- steven brocklehurst
- BBC News, Scotland
For an entire school year, a freshman boy reassured his Scottish high school teachers and classmates that he was just an ordinary student—until the teenager who identified himself as Brandon Lee met a fraudster named Brian McKinnon. As was not exposed, who had graduated from the same school. School from more than a decade ago.
a new movie called my old school (“My Old School”, in free translation) tells the story of a 30-year-old man who claimed to be Canadian and, only 17, enrolled as a fifth-year student at Bearsden Academy near Glasgow in 1993. Britain.
He still scored five on the High Test – adopted in Scotland to assess high school graduates who want to enter university – until his world came crashing down.
A year later, while he was attending medical school at the University of Dundee, a newspaper revealed his double life, and McKinnon was expelled from the institution.
Her story attracted worldwide attention and many worried that young girls might unknowingly marry a man nearly twice her age.
The new film was written and directed by Jono MacLeod, who was McKinnon’s classmate – or Brandon, as he still calls him – when he was 16 years old.
McLeod does not believe that Brandon means harm. He interviewed other like-minded classmates and professors for the film.
“Many people in the class have their own opinions about what Brandon did, but most people appreciate him,” McLeod says.
“I know it’s not normal. The film isn’t a criticism of him, but I don’t agree with all the decisions he took at that time.”
McLeod recalls that the Canadian freshman was “a bit of a geek” when he arrived, but he managed to climb the social ladder of high school and become quite popular. He also starred in a stage production of the musical South Pacific.
He told BBC Scotland that Brandon agreed to tell him his story, but did not want to appear in front of the camera. So does the current McKinnon, 58, played by Scottish actor Alan Cumming, who lip-syncs to the actual interview.
In the film, McKinnon said through Cumming, “If you really want to be successful what you need is to do the unimaginable.”
McKinnon previously described how his family moved to Bearsden, an affluent district north of Glasgow, in the 1970s when he first studied at Bearsden Academy since graduating in 1980.
He entered the University of Glasgow but was expelled after failing his exams. McKinnon claimed that he was not well at the time, but the university argued that the procedure followed was correct.
McKinnon said he felt devastated when he was first expelled from the university.
He told the Scottish newspaper The Herald in 1995, “I felt betrayed and as if my university place had been stolen.”
He blamed the “indifferent and threatening system” for blocking his path and was determined to do whatever it took to resume his studies.
In an interview with BBC Scotland presenter Jackie Bird, shortly after being discovered, McKinnon stated that he had attended high school at the age of 30, presenting two “false documents”: a fake letter from his father – To whom he claimed was a teacher – and from one tutor to another in Canada.
Brandon claimed that his mother was an opera singer who traveled the world and that he returned to Scotland to be with his ailing grandmother.
McKinnon told the BBC at the time that he was “desperate” when he first returned from the school gate.
He said, “I knew that, at any point of time, a question could arise which I would not be able to answer. They could have asked for my birth certificate, but it did not happen.”
McKinnon said he only remembers meeting a teacher who was in school the first time he studied there. “I just kept my head down, looking shy and childish, and that was all I could do—and no problem,” he says.
He told the BBC that initially he was walking on eggshells, but it eased over the years.
According to McKinnon, schoolwork helped him settle down, but he knew he needed to take his foot off the accelerator so he wouldn’t stand out too much.
“I didn’t want to win too many prizes in the first half and end up in the local paper,” he recalled.
McKinnon was out of school for a long time when he was informed by an anonymous phone call to education officials and newspapers. Now, nearly 30 years later, McKinnon avoids the limelight and prefers to remain anonymous, refusing to give interviews and be photographed.
The director of the film claims that he is always asked how he did not know at the time that Brandon was a fraud. “Waking up at 30 and going back to school is a nightmare for anyone, so why would anyone decide to put themselves in that position?” he asks.
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