Inverness setting for Scots answer to Twin Peaks

Sherilyn Fenn and Kyle MacLachlan in US hit series Twin Peaks. Picture: Kobal
Sherilyn Fenn and Kyle MacLachlan in US hit series Twin Peaks. Picture: Kobal
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IT was the cult 1990s television series about the strange goings-on in a remote American town rocked by the murder of its homecoming queen.

Now there are plans afoot for Scotland’s answer to Twin Peaks – a drama that promises to expose a dark underbelly of Highland capital Inverness.

Award-winning producer Christopher Young is plotting a long-running series which, like legendary film director David Lynch’s original story, will open with the discovery of a teenage girl’s body.

Young, who relocated his production company from London to Skye last year, hopes to capitalise on the success of shows such as Breaking Bad, Fargo and The Killing by setting a story about a criminal underworld against the scenic backdrop of Inverness and Loch Ness.

Young, the creator of the hit Channel 4 comedy The Inbetweeners and Gaelic drama Bannan, hopes the new show – provisionally entitled Here Comes The Night – will help to kickstart a revival for the struggling television industry in Scotland.

He is hoping to start production next year on a three- episode pilot, which Young says will be a long-overdue depiction of contemporary Scotland on screen.

His plans have emerged just days after leading producers said that securing a long- running drama series was the “holy grail” for the industry in Scotland.

Speaking exclusively to Scotland on Sunday, Young revealed he would be seeking to raise substantial American finance for the project to ensure that it is made to the highest possible quality.

Young, who produced the first Gaelic feature film Seachd: The Inaccessible Pinnacle in 2007, said he had experienced a “Damascus moment” about a new Scottish drama series during the making of Bannan, the first series of which will launch on BBC Alba later this month.

Young said: “My holy grail with Bannan was to complete 18 episodes, or nine hours, which we’re just finishing the last of at the moment. That’s when you can go to distributors. For them, that is the starting point.

“Bannan will run and run, I would hope, for another three, four or five years, but it needs to be one of a number of long-running dramas that is being made in Scotland.

“My ambition is to sustain Bannan, but step back from it and hand it over to the people I’ve trained up over the last two years. I love doing stuff in Gaelic, but obviously I want to do stuff in English as well. If we can make nine hours of drama in Scotland, in Skye, in Gaelic, then sell it internationally, think how much home-grown drama we could be producing.

“Imagine there were three series going. We would have an industry. We have all the talent to do all the directing, writing, producing and acting.

“We need to be really pushing the idea that we make stuff in Scotland for both Scottish and international audiences.

“We are still at the development stage of Here Comes The Night, but my strategy will be to go to a very wide range of potential TV distributors. If you look at the successful long-running shows coming out of the UK, many of them are being made by companies which are either owned by, or have deals with, American parent companies like NBC, Universal and Sony.

“It might sound overly-ambitious, but the truth is they want and need content.”

The producer, who relocated his production company to Skye last May after 25 years in London, said he was a long-time admirer of Twin Peaks, which follows the investigations of an FBI agent into the death of teenager Laura Palmer.

Film director Lynch recently confirmed plans to revive the franchise, which ran for two seasons in the early 1990s and was followed by Fire Walk With Me, a feature film. Here Comes The Night, on which regular Bannan scriptwriter Charlie Martin is already collaborating with Young, looks at the aftermath of the unexplained death of a local police officer’s teenage daughter.

Young added: “In terms of a setting, contemporary Scotland is just so under-used. Generally, we see Scotland as a picturesque backdrop. We need to take a leaf out of the Americans’ book.

“We need to generate really good content that is distinctive. There’s lots to write about in contemporary Scottish life.

“Here Comes The Night is obviously going to be fiction, but what interests me is exploring the Inverness underworld. I feel it’s very rich territory.”

The Highlands have a major on-screen starring role at the moment in the US time-travel fantasy series Outlander, which has been filmed on location around the country, and is bankrolled by Sony.

Young said: “Inverness is a place that is expanding very quickly and has quite a large immigrant population. The contemporary side of criminality is quite interesting against the backdrop of a very respectable Scottish city.

“There is also the fact you can lose things in the nature. Within 10 minutes you can be absolutely nowhere. Loch Ness is quite deep. Bodies can disappear.

“We’ll be setting it in Inverness, but not as you’ve never seen it before. We might not call it Inverness, but everyone will know it is.”