Let’s accept that this is a ludicrous assignment from the off. That you could choose another 10, 20, 30 names tomorrow that would be just as lustrous. That even the word actress has the quaint whiff of the 20th century about it. 

But games have rules and this game says choose 10 actresses who you would promote as the best Scotland has to offer. Here are mine. 

Deborah Kerr

Maybe the first question is can we claim her as Scottish? Born in 1921, Kerr spent just the first three years of her life in Helensburgh before moving to England. And throughout her career she was described as an “English rose”. 

But let’s claim her anyway. Which makes her the first Scottish woman to be nominated for an Oscar (in fact, she was nominated six times in all).

It was her association with Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger in The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (playing three roles) and later Black Narcissus that made Kerr’s name.

Deborah CarrDeborah Kerr

She moved to America in the late 1940s. (MGM announced her with the legend: “Deborah Kerr. It rhymes with star.”) And that English rose label rather marked - you could say, limited - her choices. But in 1953 she was cast opposite Burt Lancaster in From Here to Eternity in which, famously, she rolled around in the surf with her co-star. Suddenly she had sex appeal.

It didn’t stop the genteel roles. If anything, three years later, her role as the governess in The King and I cemented that perception of her. 

But many of her most interesting performances come in those films where she pushes against her image - most notably Blimp, The Sundowners and Launder and Gilliat’s wonderful Hitchcockian comedy-thriller I See a Dark Stranger in which she plays a rebellious young Irish woman spying for the Nazis.

Still, perhaps all those films in which she offered up genteel restraint were good training for her role in The Innocents (1961) when we finally get to see that propriety fray and fall apart in Jack Clayton’s genuinely chilling ghost story. Kerr’s finest hour?

Shirley Henderson

Yes, yes, yes, Moaning Myrtle in the Harry Potter movies, but Shirley Henderson has always been more interesting than that. Since establishing herself with the Scottish trifecta Rob Roy, Trainspotting and Hamish Macbeth, Henderson has been a quiet yet potent presence in British television and British cinema. She has worked with Mike Leigh (Topsy Turvy) and Sofia Coppola (Marie Antoinette), been a regular in the films of Michael Winterbottom (from Wonderland to Greed, via 24 Hour Party People and The Claim) and the whispery chill she offered up as Frances in Sally Wainwright’s second series of Happy Valley was a masterclass. 

Shirley HendersonShirley Henderson (Image: free)

Lindsay Duncan

Duncan was only a baby when she left Edinburgh, but why would you not want her on your team? Her very first credit was alongside Frankie Howerd in Further Up Pompei, in which she plays a character called, ahem, Scrubba. Just over a decade later she appeared in the Channel 4 drama Traffik and then in Alan Bleasdale’s memorable 1991 political drama G.B.H. 

But by then she had already made a name for herself on stage in Caryl Churchill’s Top Girls and Les Liaisons Dangereuses opposite Alan Rickman. She was also a favourite of Harold Pinter’s.

There’s a tendency to cast Duncan in roles where she is controlled to the point of iciness. But there’s often a warmth and humanity in her performances that can sometimes be overlooked.

Lindsay DuncanLindsay Duncan (Image: free)

Mary Ure

The problem with Mary Ure is it’s difficult to see beyond the biography. Married twice, to John Osborne and Robert Shaw, both of whom would be abusive towards her, she died aged just 42 due to a combination of prescription drugs and alcohol. But she was also only the second Scottish-born actress (after Kerr) to be nominated for an Oscar, for the 1960 version of Sons and Lovers. And she made the role of the put-upon wife Alison Porter in Osborne’s Look Back in Anger her own. When the play transferred to New York Ure earned a Tony nomination for her performance and appeared in the film version opposite Richard Burton. 

 These days she’s probably best known for her role in Where Eagles Dare alongside Burton and Clint Eastwood.

Mary UreMary Ure (Image: Newsquest)

Tilda Swinton

Too posh to be Scottish? Kelly MacDonald (see below) once said as much of Tilda Swinton. 

But Swinton calls herself Scottish and why shouldn’t she be able to define herself? Since she made her debut in Derek Jarman’s Caravaggio, Swinton has been a mercurial, shape-shifting presence on our screens.

Such is her transformative abilities there’s a danger that she is used sometimes more as a special effect onscreen (Wes Anderson has that tendency), but given the opportunity - as in Luca Guadagnino’s I Am Love or Lynne Ramsay’s We Need To Talk About Kevin - she commands the screen.

Tilda SwintonTilda Swinton (Image: free)

Phyllis Logan

Forget Downton, she’ll always be Lady Jane Felsham to me. But while I wait for the Lovejoy revival, it’s worth pointing out the longevity and quality of Phyllis Logan’s career. She made a name for herself in Another Time, Another Place (1983), playing a young woman who falls in love with an Italian prisoner of war, and has been a constant on our screens ever since, turning up in Mike Leigh’s Secrets and Lies in the 1990s, and, more recently, in Guilt and Shetland. 

Phyllis LoganPhyllis Logan (Image: free)

Kate Dickie

People have told Kate Dickie that she has a “period” face and it’s true that she has often been cast in costume dramas, ranging from Peaky Blinders and The Northman to full blown fantasy dramas such as Game of Thrones and The Green Knight.

But it’s worth remembering she first came to prominence in Andrea Arnold’s contemporary drama Red Road. In any case she brings a thrilling, quicksilver quality to everything she does.

Kate DickieKate Dickie (Image: free)

Rose Leslie

Set aside the proper posh girl background. Push away the tabloid clamour around her marriage to Kit Harrington. Forget, if you can, that she will forever be an online meme thanks to her Game of Thrones line, “You know nothing Jon Snow”. We only know this stuff because Leslie made such an impression in her breakthrough roles in Downton Abbey and, of course, as the wildling Ygritte in the Netflix fantasy. Roles opposite Vin Diesel in The Last Witch Hunter and in US TV series The Good Fight soon followed and more recently she has been seen in The Time Traveler’s Wife and the BBC drama Vigil.

Rose LeslieRose Leslie

Kelly Macdonald

Yes, yes, yes, Trainspotting, etc …In the years since Macdonald has carved out perhaps the least showy but possibly most substantial CV of the stars of Danny Boyle’s film. She has worked with the Coen Brothers (No Country For Old Men), Robert Altman (Gosford Park), Martin Scorsese (on the TV drama Boardwalk Empire) and even been made into a Disney heroine in Brave. She’s used so often as the glue of normality in TV and film roles that there’s an extra guilty frisson when she moves beyond that, as in her performance in Line of Duty.

Kelly MacdonaldKelly Macdonald (Image: free)

Moira Shearer

To end where we began, we return to the filmography of Powell and Pressburger. Having made Deborah Kerr a star they did the same for Dunfermline-born ballet dancer Moira Shearer, casting her in their wildly expressionistic ballet film The Red Shoes in 1948. Shearer never strayed far from her dancing roots, appearing in Powell and Pressburger’s Tales of Hoffman and as a dancer in Vincente Minelli’s The Story of Three Loves, opposite James Mason and in the murk of Powell’s clammy film about murderous voyeurism, Peeping Tom. 

In his memoir A Life In Movies, Powell is dismissive of Shearer’s acting skills, but in The Red Shoes at least he coaxed a performance out of Shearer that gives the lie to his summary of her talents. Sometimes, one truly memorable performance is more than enough. 

Moira ShearerMoira Shearer (Image: free)