Dr No show: producers snub castle as backdrop for latest Bond

AH, Mr Bond we’ve been expecting you. But rather prematurely, it seems.

In a surprising plot twist 007 has put the owners of a castle and several businesses in Argyll off his trail.

Just two weeks ago the red carpet was being dusted down when it was reported that part of Skyfall, the 23rd Bond movie, would be filmed at Duntrune Castle.

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But in a move perhaps designed to throw people off the scent, the production team has now cancelled local hotel bookings and the castle owner has been told to no longer expect the secret agent.

Robin Malcolm said he received a letter saying the film, directed by Sam Mendes, would be partly shot at the castle near Lochgilphead in February.

However, he was visited this week by location manager Russell Lodge who told him there had been a change of plan.

“Its very disappointing, not just for me, but for others such as hoteliers who thought they were going to have a prosperous new year,” said Mr Malcolm.

“I don’t know if they just changed their mind or have changed the [film’s] story, but it’s a shame. It brought excitement for everyone for a while.”

Mr Malcolm said he was expecting a crew of about 200 to use the castle and holiday cottages on the estate where he farms.

“I’ll now have to go back to being a farmer and accommodation provider as usual.”

He revealed the production team made a considerable investment in the area: “They would fly up from London in a couple of helicopters and bring eight people at a time and then we had a much bigger visit, when they got about 50 of them up in a flight to Glasgow and then travelled here by car.”

The castle, on the north side of the Crinan Canal, is the family seat of Clan Malcolm.

Mr Malcolm, who is the clan chief, said: “They were going to build a false front for the castle, so they have had surveyors working here. Sam Mendes was keen but maybe, when he had all those people up from various fields, some of them said it wasn’t going to work here.”

Mr Malcolm said the film company had considered at least 50 sites before they confirmed to him that they were going to use Duntrune. Mr Malcolm said: “The letter says ‘We confirm’ – although I never received a contract – and at the launch in London they showed Duntrune Castle.”

He added: “They may well still do some filming in Scotland, I got the impression they wanted a Scottish element to the film and the site manager was going to look at some other areas.”

Heather Leighton, manager of the Grey Gull Hotel in Ardrishaig, confirmed that the film company had cancelled a booking for February.

She said: “The booking has been cancelled within the last two days. They were going to fill the hotel, which has 22 rooms.”

A spokeswoman for Eon Productions said no location was confirmed.

“Lots of locations have been scouted,” she said.

“We are looking at a number of different places.”

The film is Daniel Craig’s third performance as James Bond and features Judi Dench playing M for the seventh consecutive film. It will also star Ralph Fiennes, Albert Finney and Javier Bardem with French actress Berenice Marlohe and Naomie Harris as the leading ladies.

VisitScotland estimates one in five overseas visitors to Scotland is inspired by TV or film, while the productions themselves can add up to £25 million to the economy each year.

Brad Pitt, Scarlett Johansson and Halle Berry have all recently filmed in Scotland.