Peter Manuel: Meet Me

True Story: 1958 William Watt, a successful baker, met the serial killer who murdered his family for a drink in Glasgow. They spent eleven hours together, drinking, driving, talking. Within a year Manuel was hung for the crime but neither ever discussed that night. The play follows them through their drunken evening in Glasgow.

First performed at Òran Mór in Glasgow, 2013

Denise discusses the play and her research into Peter Manuel and his crimes with Susie from Òran Mór

A Drunk Woman looks at the Thistle

Written as a response to Hugh MacDiarmid's seminal 1926 poem A Drunk Man Looks at the Thistle, this one-woman drama is an entertaining and compelling look at the idea of national identity. Can the cultural slate be wiped clean? Should Scotland abandon its self-definitions?

The play was first performed by Scottish actor Karen Dunbar, hugely popular as a television comedian in Chewin’ the Fat but also acclaimed for her more serious roles. Karen Dunbar’s character challenges with wit, eloquence and powerful rhyming monologue in this entertaining play.

The production received a four-star review at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2008. Karen Dunbar has since performed the play at Word in Aberdeen (2010) and StAnza in St Andrew’s (2012).

First performed at Òran Mór in Glasgow, 2008


Related links

See the text of Hugh MacDiarmid's poem A Drunk Man Looks at a Thistle and more information about him on the Poetry Foundation website.


Ida Tamson

Ida is a grandmother raising her dead daughter’s children as best as she can, until one of the boy’s father lets it be known he wants his boy. He’s a gangster, a racist, and wants to get his son away from his mixed race siblings.

The play was adapted from a short story originally written for the Glasgow Evening Times for the AyeWrite book festival.

Actor Elaine C Smith recalls how she ended up taking the leading role in Ida Tamson in Nothing Like a Dame: My Autobiography


“I started to get more creative, especially when I got sent a fantastic short story by a very talented writer called Denise Mina, who sent me a lovely note out of the blue, saying, ‘We’ve never met, but I feel like I know you. You live around the corner from my Auntie Betty and you gave her advice about football shorts for her grandson one day when she met you in a shop in Shettleston Road. Anyway I believe Mario Puzo sent Marlon Brando a copy of The Godfather cos he thought he’d be perfect in it. So I am sending this story called Ida Tamson to you cos I think you’d be wonderful in it.’ It made me laugh out loud.

“I duly read the story and loved it. It was the story of Glasgow grandmother left to bring up her two grandsons after the drug death of her daughter (a situation all too common, unfortunately). It was pretty bleak subject mater, but the character was so funny, truthful and brave and actually goes to win in the end. Normally in stories in this genre, everyone is bleak or gets defeated in the end, so this was really refreshing. I called Denise, we spoke for an hour and our company purchased the rights of the story for TV.”

First performed at Òran Mór in Glasgow, 2006

Radio plays

The Meek

A dark and surreal drama about a mother coming to terms with her child's disability. Newly-born Simone has Down's syndrome but her mother is convinced she has extraordinary powers. Is this complete fantasy or is Simone really in a world where superheroes exist and are being hunted down?

First performed on BBC Radio 3 in 2009

More information and links to buy a download from iTunes on the Radio 3 website.



Denise’s first play, in which three financial dealers are stuck in a plummeting lift.

First performed on BBC Radio 4 in 2003