WHEN Scotland appeared to have landed a starring role in the new James Bond film, businesses and tourism leaders predicted a much-needed boost for the economy.
But in a sudden plot twist, producers have revealed Skyfall, the 23rd Bond movie, will not be filmed at Duntrune Castle, in Kilmartin, Argyll and Bute, as had been widely expected.
Instead a yet-to-be-named Welsh castle looks set to play host to the star-studded cast, including Daniel Craig, Dame Judi Dench, Ralph Fiennes and Albert Finney
The film-makers reccied dozens of castle in Scotland and elsewhere in an exhaustive search lasting months, before appearing to settle on Duntrune as a location.
But within days of the press conference, director Sam Mendes had a sudden change of heart, and Duntrune’s owner was told they were no longer coming and hotel bookings for cast and crew were all cancelled.
Though sources within the film company could not confirm for sure, it appears that the production will be shifting southwards.
Robin Malcolm, owner of Duntrune Castle, said that local businesses had been looking forward to a prosperous New Year.
“I think it’s Scotland’s loss,” he said. “I knew they were looking at other venues, and I think they’re going to fake it that the Welsh castle is going to be in Scotland.
“The last thing I heard was that they were going to have some shots of somewhere like Rannoch Moor that’s pretty desolate and a few mountains – which Wales can come up with too.
“They haven’t lost sight of the thought that they want Bond to be an ex-pat Scot with roots in Scotland, and certainly the initial script was built around that premise and that he was kind of returning to his roots. But time will tell. I’ll be interested to see the results.”
Despite the cancellation, Mr Malcolm said that he had remained friends with the production team, adding: “It was fun while it lasted”.
And he said the castle is still in demand as location.
“Another film company has already said that they want to come and have a look at us. Their attitude has been, ‘if it’s good enough Bond, it’s good enough for us’ ”, he said.
Ian Fleming, who created the character, revealed Bond’s Scottish parentage in You Only Live Twice, one of his last books, when it looked like 007 had been killed and his obituary appeared in the Times.
The obituary read: “James Bond was born of a Scottish father, Andrew Bond of Glencoe, and a Swiss mother.”
Scotland has also been the backdrop to previous Bond movies. From Russia With Love used Argyllshire to double for the Balkans in climactic motorboat and helicopter chase scenes, while David Niven’s Sir James Bond visits Perthshire in the original 1967 version of Casino Royale.
Roger Moore visited Faslane submarine base in The Spy Who Loved Me. And Eilean Donan Castle was used as an MI6 base in The World is Not Enough, where Q demonstrated his new secret weapon – bagpipes that double as a flame-thrower.
A spokeswoman for Eon Productions, the James Bond film company, said. “I think maybe he [Mendes] was thinking at that time about Duntrune.”
However, she added that film producers changed their minds about locations all the time.
Belle Doyle, head of Scottish Screen Locations, which is now part of Creative Scotland, said: “Of course we’d be really disappointed to lose such a prestigious film from Scotland and hope that won’t happen, but, as ever, our negotiations with any production looking to work here are confidential.”