Scottish Billy Connolly film to premiere in London

What We Did On Our Holiday was shot on location in Scotland. Picture: BBC Films
What We Did On Our Holiday was shot on location in Scotland. Picture: BBC Films
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IT is one of the most high- profile Scottish films of the year, which will unite two of the country’s biggest stars on screen for the first time.

But Scotland has been effectively snubbed over the launch of a new film starring two of its biggest acting talents – Billy Connolly and David Tennant.

Despite it being set in the Highlands, shot almost entirely on location in Scotland and chosen for a major new tourism campaign, What We Did on Our Holiday is to be launched in London later this month.

Connolly and Tennant, who play father and son, are due to attend the West End world premiere, along with co-stars Rosamund Pike, Ben Miller and Amelia Bullmore – but none of the stars will be heading north to promote the film ahead of its release at the end of September.

The BBC film – backed with more than £250,000 of public money – will instead have a low-key launch in Scotland, with a private screening for BAFTA members in Glasgow, and an event for tourism leaders in Inverness aimed at building interest in the film.

The news has emerged just weeks after VisitScotland unveiled plans for a major campaign centred on the film.

Locations used for the What We Did on Our Holiday shoot included a 19th-Georgian mansion house, Finnich Malise, on the edge of the Loch Lomond National Park, beaches around Gairloch in Wester Ross, and Loch Katrine, in Stirlingshire.

The black comedy revolves around a lavish party planned for the 75th birthday of an eccentric grandfather (Connolly).

Tennant plays his son, who travels from London with his wife and discovers his father has been keeping the seriousness of his illness from his family.

Connolly made the film after he was diagnosed with prostate cancer and Parkinson’s disease.

It is believed concerns over Connolly’s health have played a part in the decision not to stage higher-profile premieres in both London and Scotland.

Tennant is only able to attend the premiere in London on 22 September, four days before its national release, after being freed for a few hours from filming the next series of Broadchurch in the south of England.

The lack of a premiere in Scotland is a blow for the industry north of the Border, which is struggling for finance and major productions, amid concerns the country is losing out to Northern Ireland and Wales because of the lack of a major studio.

June’s Edinburgh International Film Festival missed out on the world premiere of the film, even though it was screened for the industry market at Cannes in the spring.

A spokeswoman for film distributors Lionsgate said: “The screening in London is the world premiere and it is the only one that the cast are able to attend due to their schedules.”

An industry insider said: “There is a bit of sensitivity over Billy’s health, which is why there hasn’t been a big premiere organised in Scotland. He and David were only available for a short time together in London.”

Jenni Steele, VisitScotland film and creative industries manager, said: “We are looking to stage a special VisitScotland event to coincide with a screening of the film in Inverness on 23 September.”

A spokeswoman for Creative Scotland, which invested in the film, said: “The film promotes the work of the fantastic crew working behind the camera and showcases Scotland’s beautiful landscapes.”