Perthshire on Film
Scotland has a long and proud history of being a setting for some of the most iconic films and TV shows of recent memory. Gone are the days of the Hollywood studio set – and the old myth about Scotland not being Scottish enough for the makers of Brigadoon – as the biggest names in the industry turn to the land itself for their ideal backdrop. Everything from Local Hero to Skyfall has turned their cameras to Scotland, yet Perthshire has seen less of the action than its Highland neighbours. Hopefully, that may soon be changing.
The Pentland Studios scheme – a new and higly ambitious plan to open an Ealing style studio in Midlothian – has recently teamed up with the Abercairny Estate near Crieff in a bid to lure upcoming film and TV productions to Perthshire. Talks are still ongoing but the potential the area offers to directors and TV networks is undeniable, and some have already taken advantage of it. All of these locations are within easy reach of Perth, and you won’t even have to leave the city to check out one of them!
Dubbed Scotland’s answer to Game of Thrones, the Starz TV show, based on the multi-million bestselling series of novels by Diana Gabaldon, is an alluring mish-mash of romance, historical drama and time travel. The series, starring Scottish actors Sam Heughan, Gary Lewis and Graham McTavish, has received rave reviews, much to the delight of its extremely dedicated fanbase. Fans of the show have been swarming to Scotland for years to visit the locations mentioned in the book, and when it came time to shoot the first season, Visit Scotland took the surprise move to close down the entirety of Doune Castle to accommodate filming. Standing in for Castle Leoch at the time of the Jacobite Rebellion, Doune Castle has its own rich history having been built in the 13th century before seeing military action in both the Wars of the Three Kingdoms and the Jacobite Risings.
Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
Doune Castle is also one of the locations for the cult British comedy film Monty Python and the Holy Grail. After the National Trust withdrew permission for the crew to use several of their castles as locations for the movie, they took advantage of various parts of Doune Castle to get the job done. The opening scenes, the big song and dance routine, the wedding and the infamous Trojan Rabbit scene were all filmed there. To this day, the castle has become a place of pilgrimage for Python fans far and wide, and a Monty Python Day has been held annually since 2004.
Chariots of Fire.
The 1981 film, which won four Oscars, including Best Picture, has become iconic primarily due to its famous beach running scene. Based on the story of devout Scottish Christian athlete Eric Liddell, the film was shot in various locations across Scotland and the rest of the UK, notably the West Sands of St Andrews. Perthshire features briefly in one scene, where Liddell is awarding prizes at a Highland games ceremony, shot in Crieff.
Shot entirely on location in Scotland (a rarity for most films set here), Rob Roy, starring Liam Neeson, Jessica Lange and Tim Roth, features scenes filmed far and wide across the country, from Glen Coe to Loch Leven. The crew also found themselves beset by the terrors of the Scottish weather and our pals the midges! Some locations were so remote that they could only be reached be helicopter. Megginch Castle, just outside Errol, was also featured in the film. The castle, built in the 17th century, is home to some of the most famous gardens in the country. The gardens feature elaborate courtyards, centuries old yews and a fountain parterre. They’re open all year round but unfortunately only available for viewing by appointment.
Time Teens: The Beginning
Originally planned as a short film, Time Teens The Beginning expanded to a feature length project, filmed across Perthshire and Angus with a cast featuring some of the country’s top TV and theatre stars. Filmed on a shoestring budget, Time Teens featured a cast of local kids and Small Talk, the traditional tearoom on Perth’s High Street, was a setting for one scene. The film even made its world premiere at the Perth Playhouse.
While not shot in Perthshire, the hit historical drama Belle, directed by Amma Asante, owes a great deal to Scone Palace and a famous painting within its walls. The 18th portrait depicts two aristocratic women of the era: Lady Elizabeth Murray and her cousin Dido Elizabeth Belle, the latter of whom was the illegitimate daughter of Naval officer Sir John Lindsay and a Caribbean slave. Belle was raised in the echelons of upper class society – a rarity for people of colour – was commissioned by Lord Mansfield, a Scottish lawyer who raised Belle.
The screenwriter of the film Belle, Misan Sagay, saw the painting in an exhibition at Scone Palace and was inspired to tell her story. The painting still remains in Scone Palace, where it hangs in the Ambassador’s Room.
All of these locations are within easy reach of Perth, which makes for the perfect central hub for film fan travellers. Perth is also home to the Playhouse, one of the oldest cinemas in Scotland. The gorgeous art deco building dates back to the 30’s and has acted as the home for film in Perthshire ever since, housing premieres, exclusive screenings and much more. In 2014, it became the first independent cinema in the whole of the UK to house an IMAX screen, and it remains the only one in Perthshire and Angus, making it ideal for the Summer blockbuster season.
Find Perthshire Film Spots!
Now you know where the films and their settings in Perth are, it’s time to get out and explore! In case you aren’t familiar with Perthshire, here’s a map to help you find all the locations mentioned above.