SIR Sean Connery has launched a series of outspoken attacks on the state of modern Edinburgh and the way the city is run in his eagerly-awaited memoirs.
The 77-year-old screen legend laments what he sees as various threats to the heritage of his home city and criticises the role of the council and other authorities.
In his book, Being a Scot – which is published today and will be formally launched by the James Bond star at the Book Festival on Monday – Sir Sean:
• Suggests Historic Scotland is "whoring" the country's heritage
• Expresses "outrage" at Network Rail adding the pre-fix Edinburgh to Waverley Station
• Hits out at the "dark tourism" on the Royal Mile
• Warns that the Capital "could soon" lose its prestigious world heritage status
• Blasts the council-run Mary King's Close as a "Disneyfied haunted-house experience"
• Expresses his disappointment at the lack of official backing for a controversial new Filmhouse in Festival Square.
But he saves his most stinging criticism for Historic Scotland, saying it was "dreadfully depressing" to see it promoting a witch trial re-enactment.
He accuses the government agency of "celebrating 16th century misogyny", adding: "In Spain I learnt that they call such corruption of heritage in the name of tourism la puteria, or the 'whoring', of the culture."
He also blasts the rail "bureauprats" who appear to have renamed the city's main station Edinburgh Waverley, describing how he was "outraged" to see the extended name that now adorns signs there. The station, he points, out was named after the Sir Walter Scott novel.
The screen legend, who was born and grew up in Fountainbridge, also expresses his fears for the future of the Capital's built heritage.
Highlighting the ongoing investigation by Unesco into the city's World Heritage Site status, following major development plans such as Caltongate, he warns that Edinburgh "could soon lose" the prestigious title.
The city's planners should take a leaf out of Copenhagen's book, he suggests, to learn how to preserve a historic landscape.
Although he praises the "imaginative" work of Edinburgh architects Allan Murray, Malcolm Fraser, Richard Murphy, Charlie Sutherland and Charlie Hussey, he deplores the general standard of new buildings springing up across the city.
"Each time I return to the city I am shocked at the mediocre quality of the new architecture," he says. "And now even the cobbles of the New Town are being asphalted over, street by street."
Sir Sean also bemoans the lack of support for the controversial proposal to build a new home for the Film Festival in Festival Square.
Praising architect Richard Murphy's "beautiful" designs for the proposed building, he says the film centre – which would carry Sir Sean's name – would cement the city's international reputation and stage exciting events throughout the year.
He also describes finding that few people at the city council appreciated that Edinburgh had an international reputation within the cinema industry.
Sir Sean also talks approvingly about the Scottish Parliament building and Olorosso restaurant.
More extracts from Sir Sean's autobiography, Being a Scot