A time-travelling TV series set in Scotland could turn the clock forward for jobs in North Lanarkshire.
Around 200 production workers are expected to be based at a former electronics plant in Cumbernauld with more than 2,000 supporting actors and ‘extras’ needed for the show, based on the best-selling ‘Outlander’ novels, over the next few months.
North Lanarkshire Council’s convener of regeneration and infrastructure David Fagan welcomed the development.
He said: “I have already visited the site and the transformation is incredible.
“A number of local companies are already on-site preparing the once-derelict building to be transformed into 18th century and 1940s Scotland.
“It is a huge feather in the cap for North Lanarkshire that we have been chosen as the home for ‘Outlander’, already being pitched as Scotland’s answer to ‘Game of Thrones’.
“Game of Thrones has brought huge benefits to Ireland as a whole and Belfast, where the production team is based, in particular.
“We have already spoken with the production company about assistance we can give and the potential for jobs and training opportunities.”
The project, from Tall Ship Productions, Story Mining and Supply Company, and Left Bank Pictures in association with Sony Pictures Television for US pay-TV network Starz will shoot a 16-part series based on author Diana Gabaldon’s best-selling ‘Outlander’ series of novels.
The series of seven books, with an eighth due out later this year, has sold more than 20million copies world-wide and tells the story of Claire Randall, a former WWII Army nurse transported back in time to 18th century where she meets, and eventually marries, Highland warrior Jamie Fraser.
With the book set in Scotland, it is important for the fans to know it is being filmed in the real place.
Left Bank Pictures managing director Marigo Kahoe says: “Outlander is a hugely ambitious project and finding the right location was incredibly important. In Lanarkshire not only do we have access to the cream of Scottish production talent, but we are able to film at some striking locations, which will bring the beauty of Scotland onto TV screens around the world.”
Filming is due to begin next month and is expected to last well into 2014. It will air in America next year.
Councillor Fagan added: “A lot will depend on how the series goes down with American audiences.
“But the books have a huge fanbase and the producers have brought in a top writer to make the books come alive on screen.
“Cumbernauld is no stranger to film and TV production – who can ever forget ‘Gregory’s Girl’ – and to have a modern film and TV studio right on our doorstep is a fantastic opportunity for the whole area.”
The ‘Outlander’ production has won financial assistance from Creative Scotland and a 20 per cent tax break from the UK Treasury.