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Ned lands TV role
by Peter Douglas
Retiring Ned Kelly actor Michael Beattie is to feature in anticipated documentary 'Ned's Head' which will air on SBS One next month.
While undertaking research for the program at Beechworth, filmmakers came across Beattie, who features in the town's Ned Kelly Weekend, and were immediately struck by the uncanny resemblance to the infamous bushranger.
He was offered a prominent role in the drama re-enactment, which involved him shaving his head and beard for a scene involving the creation of Kelly's death mask.
Amazingly, Beattie was able to grow back his beard long enough to play the Kelly role for last weekend's Ned Kelly festival, which was his 14th and last playing the bushranger.
Filmmaker Nichole Dryburgh said Beattie's resemblance to Ned was incredible.
"The resemblance is truly amazing and he brings something unique and wonderful to the documentary," she said.
Ms Dryburgh said the documentary which will air at 7.30pm on Sunday, September 4will try to solve the mystery of Ned Kelly's skull.
"On the morning of 11 November 1880 Kelly was hanged at Old Melbourne Gaol," she said.
"What happened to the body of one of Australia's most iconic figures after he died has been a huge source of controversy and mystery ever since."
In 1978, the supposed skull of Ned Kelly was stolen from its display case at Old Melbourne Gaol and was lost for more than 30 years, until a West Australian farmer handed it into authorities in 2009.
A team of forensic scientists at the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine were then given the task of identifying the skull.
Ms Dryburgh said the documentary recorded every step of this investigation, as the team ventured on a year-long quest to discover the skull's true identity.