What's the story? Balamory makers hop on bus to Capital

IT is not the most glamorous location for filming a television series, but a Lothian bus has become the unlikely setting for a new children's show by the makers of Balamory.

A central character in the new series is a bus cleaner, so programme makers Tattie Moon decided to use the Edinburgh bus company and some of its staff as a backdrop for the show.

The production company yesterday started filming at the Seafield bus depot, while a Lothian Buses staff member has been specially assigned to drive the bus at the centre of the plot for the duration of the filming.

And following on from the successful Balamory format, Edinburgh will be identifiable as the fictional town where Me Too is set. Recognisable landmarks in the series aimed at pre-school children will include Edinburgh Castle, the Water of Leith and Princes Street Gardens.

Bobby the Riversea Buses cleaner, played by Samantha Seager, is a central character in Me Too, which is expected to go on air on the BBC in September.

Bobby's children are looked after by registered child minder Granny Murray, who also looks after other youngsters when their parents - a doctor, a taxi driver, a teacher and a train worker - go out to work.

Although Riversea Buses features in the programme, the buses and drivers will be recognisable as being from Lothian Buses.

Programme makers said they were filming "a lot" of episodes because, following the success of Balamory, they expected the programme to be a big hit.

Producer Brian Jamieson said Edinburgh would be easily recognisable. He said: "Many bits of Edinburgh will be identifiable. You'll recognise the bus depot, the streets and little alleys around the Royal Mile, the Castle, Princes Street Gardens, the Water of Leith and streets in the Leith area."

He said the participation of Lothian Buses was integral to the story. "Bobby won't wear a Lothian Buses uniform, but we are using their buses and the bus drivers will.

"We decided to use Lothian Buses because we liked the look of their vehicles. They were extremely hospitable to us and their routes go past key landmarks."

The bus company's chief executive Neil Renilson said it was pleased to help in the new BBC series. He said: "We are delighted to be involved in assisting in this new production.

"It's a good opportunity to keep public transport in the eye of the next generation of customers."

Mr Renilson revealed that the producers had chosen one particular bus and a handful of drivers they wanted to use.

"There is one particular bus they want to use and some of the other buses and staff will be in the background," he said.

"A couple of guys have been assigned to drive the bus and they are very enthused about taking part in the project."

Stanley Grainger, 58, from Balerno, has been chosen as the first driver of a Riversea bus.

Mr Grainger said he was surprised, because although he is an experienced bus driver, he is normally employed as a route manager. He said: "I've been a route manager with Lothian Buses for 20 years. I've no idea why I've been chosen, I've just been told to appear at the depot and look like a driver."

But the faithful employee said he was proud to be promoting the profession of bus driving to a new generation of children. "If it's promoting the company and promoting driving a bus then I'm up for it," he said.

Like Balamory, Me Too will have three to five-year-olds as its target audience. Balamory, which was filmed in the town of Tobermory on Mull, became so popular it developed a cult following and a spin-off stage show was developed last year.

Thanks to the success of the show, a stream of families with young children make the pilgrimage to Tobermory from all parts of the UK and beyond.

Many of the locations used can be found in the village and a range of Balamory clothing is sold in the Tobermory Corner Shop.