James Cosmo: Dumbarton actor shows off Scotland in new film locations guide

By Lucy Ashton

A Dumbarton film star who once owned a shop in Helensburgh has spoken of the “magical quality” of films shot in his homeland as Scotland’s tourist board launches its new guide to big screen locations.

The son of Jimmy Copeland, who was also a film actor, was born in Clydebank and the family lived in Wallace Street in the Newtown for a time.

James once owned the Helensburgh Grain Store, the town’s first health food and wholefoods shop, in East Clyde Street before turning to acting full-time, has written the foreword to VisitScotland’s revamped guidebook Set In Scotland.

The 52-page guide, which was introduced on the BBC Scotland news by culture reporter Pauline McLean, who is also from Dumbarton,  takes visitors through the more than 150 films which have been shot entirely or partly in Scotland, and details 100 film locations. It includes locations for Braveheart, Harry Potter, Skyfall and the Fast And Furious saga.

Other films which were shot wholly or partly in the West of Scotland include:

·       Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018) – The fifth instalment in the series sees the Glen Mallan Jetty at Loch Long in Arrochar, pictured above with super carrier Queen Elizabeth, used to transport the captured creatures for their auction at the home of Sir Benjamin Lockwood, played by James Cromwell. 

·       Ring of Bright Water (1969) – shot almost entirely on location in the region, this family favourite is based on Scottish author and naturalist Gavin Maxwell’s best-selling tale of a writer who brings his pet otter to the west coast of Scotland. 

·       Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975) – Monty Python fans will know it as “the Castle of Aaaarrrrggghhh” but in real life it is the roof of Castle Stalker that a French soldier, played by John Cleese, hurls extraordinary insults down upon King Arthur. 

·       Restless Natives (1985) – The Rest and be Thankful is the beauty spot where a coach of tourists are robbed by a clown and a wolf man in this comedy directed by Michael Hoffman. 

·       Entrapment (1999) – It’s easy to see what attracted filmmakers to the popular fortress of Duart Castle on the Isle of Mull which features as a hideout for international art thief Robert “Mac” MacDougal (played by Sean Connery) in the 1999 film Entrapment. 

“What is wonderful is that the films are only the starting point.

“They then form a strong connection with the real country – it may be because of their ancestors or the feeling they got while they’re here. That stays with them.”

The revamped guidebook was launched by the actor at Bo’ness and Kinneil Railway on Friday, a location which has itself appeared in several film and television productions including Outlander, Cloud Atlas and The Railway Man.

VisitScotland said screen tourism is a global trend in which film and television fans are inspired to visit a location after seeing it on screen.

The tourism body said the trend is long-term, with many visitors citing film titles released long before their trip as motivation, and it said the trend can provide ongoing financial support for regions and businesses linked to popular locations.

Jenni Steele, film and creative industries manager at VisitScotland, said: “Some of the world’s biggest film franchises have chosen to come to our shores in recent years, from Batman to Avengers.

“This not only boosts the local economy in the short term, which is particularly important for the recovery of tourism, but can provide an ongoing presence in popular culture – and streaming services – that can continue to reach new audiences and lead to visits long after a film’s release.”

The tourism organisation said it hoped its new look guide, which boasts more featured productions than the previous one, will offer further inspiration to visitors.

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