MEL Gibson is set to return to the big screen next year - playing a former Hawick teacher.

The star of Braveheart and Mad Max is currently filming The Professor and the Madman.

The 60-year-old Australian, who reunites with writer and director Farhad Safinia, his screenwriting partner on 2006 hit Apocalypto, plays lexicographer James Murray who was the first editor of the Oxford English Dictionary.

Murray, who was the eldest son of Denholm draper Thomas Murray, left school at 14 in 1851.

Three years later he was back in the classroom as a teacher at Hawick Grammar School, quickly rising to become headmaster.

The 24-year-old Murray met and married music teacher, Maggie Scott.

Following the death of their daughter, Anna, from tuberculosis and Maggie also contracting the illness, the couple moved to London.

His wife died within a year of moving to the capital.

Murray continued with his academic studies in London and, having remarried, began work with the Oxford English Dictionary in 1878.

The Professor and the Madman, which depicts Murray's relationship with convicted killer William Minor, is based on Simon Winchester's book, The Surgeon of Crowthorne.

Minor began correspondence with Murray from his cell at Broadmoor lunatic asylum.

The author is delighted to see his work reaching the big screen. Winchester said: "Murray had printed brochures to put out a call for help.

"During this time, Minor had contacted the widow of the man he killed, brewery worker George Merrett, offering compensation.

"The pair fell in love and it was during a visit to Broadmoor that Eliza Merrett took one of the brochures with her, tucked into a book.

"Minor spotted the brochure and wrote to Murray.

"Minor was a doctor but he was also the longest-serving inmate at Broadmoor.

"Murray had thousands of contributions from him and he assumed he was the boss or the doctor. They struck up a friendship over their shared love of words that lasted over 25 years."

Sean Penn plays the Broadmoor inmate who contributed around 10,000 definitions for the dictionary.

But neither Murray or Minor were to see the first 12-volume Oxford English Dictionary in 1928.

The film, which also features Natalie Dormer, Ioan Gruffudd and Jeremy Irvine, began filming in September in Dublin.

No release date has yet been indicated but hopes are high it will be in cinemas in 2017.

James Murray continued to work on the Oxford English Dictionary despite failing health.

He died of pleurisy in 1915 - 13 years before it was published - and was buried in Oxford.