Loch Ness is set to get an unlikely starring role on TV - as the setting for a new murder mystery series.
Filming is already underway in the Highlands on the six-part drama about the hunt for a “monster” serial killer.
It will focus on a detective grappling with her first ever murder case and her husband, a tour boat operator on the world-famous loch.
Scots actors Laura Fraser and John Sessions are to lead the cast of the show, which will explore how a serial killer “terrifies a local community.”
ITV, which has commissioned the new series from writer Stephen Brady, previously best known for Vera and Silent Witness, said the “beautiful scenery, undulating Highlands and vast expansive loch becomes a character in its own right, adding a haunting depth to the community’s plight.”
With a talented line-up, both on and off-screen, and the incredible backdrop of Loch Ness, this is an exciting project.Culture secretary Fiona Hyslop
Siobhan Finneran, star of Clocking Off, Downton Abbey and Benidorm and Gray O’Brien, who played Tony Gordon in Coronation Street, have also been cast in the show, which is entitled Loch Ness.
The mystery unfolds when the body of a local man is found at the foot of a mountain and a isolated human heart is discovered on the shore of the loch.
ITV says drama will depict the “shattering” impact on the local community when several of its inhabitants come under suspicion, “as the monster lurking in their midst begins to terrify and rock the village to its core.”
Executive producer Tim Haines said: “Serial killers are monsters that lie beneath the surface of normal happy communities. Where better to hunt for one than in a place that has thrived off its own monster myth for centuries.”
The programme has won £200,000 worth of funding from national arts agency Creative Scotland, just weeks after it confirmed backing for a new ITV drama about the notorious Scottish serial killer Peter Manuel.
Creative Scotland’s director of film Natalie Usher, said: “We can’t wait to see the results of the combined vision of writer Stephen Brady and directors Brian Kelly and Cilla Ware.
“Our production growth fund has allowed us to bring another high-profile television production to Scotland, further developing Scotland’s reputation as a key filming destination where productions can benefit from working with our world class craft and technical talent.”
Culture secretary Fiona Hyslop added: “With a talented line-up, both on and off-screen, and the incredible backdrop of Loch Ness, this is an exciting project.
“We know that investment in screen can bring great rewards: more jobs, further growth, attract outside investment, and ultimately bolster Scotland’s international reputation.”