Is Bathgate set to become the new beating heart of Scotland’s screen industry? - Brian Ferguson

It was a dark day for Scotland and a daunting one for a journalist in his first week on a daily newspaper.

The former Motorola factory in Bathgate is now home to one of Scotland's main film studios.

I had not even taken my jacket off when I was despatched with a photographer to the Motorola mobile phone factory in Bathgate after its closure was announced 20 years ago, with the sudden loss of more than 3,000 jobs.

For many years, every time I passed Motorola’s old plant next to the M8 motorway, I thought of the images of the shocked and distraught workers emerging from the site.

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The Motorola plant had long since been reinvented as a business park when it emerged as the base of Danny Boyle’s Trainspotting sequel T2 five years ago.

The Pyramids Studio complex in Bathgate is to undergo a 120,000 sq ft expansion after being snapped up the London and Regional property group.

However, news that Amazon Studios would be using the 65,000sqft studio complex as a filming base for a new series of Neil Gaiman’s Good Omens was on a different level.

It was sandwiched between news of two other shows – David Macpherson’s North Sea supernatural thriller The Rig and another Gaiman series, Anansi Boys – being shot at the new FirstStage Studios in Leith Docks and on the back of Glasgow announcing plans to turn part of the Kelvin Hall into a studio.

There has been another frantic period of studio movement over the past week or so, with an American consortium snapping up the Cumbernauld studio where Outlander is made and one of Europe’s new property groups has taken over the Pyramids Business Park.

The two deals are the clearest sign yet that Scotland’s screen sector has well and truly emerged from the doldrums that dogged the industry for years as it struggled to get studios up and running.

But the eye-catching element of the Bathgate announcement, which will see the business park renamed Pyramids Studios, is the ambition of new owners London and Regional to turn the site into a “world-class” hub for film and TV production.

With plans to add an additional 120,000sqft of sound stages and workshops at the 93-acre site, which already has a 65,000sqft studio, and the new owners already speaking about other future longer-term developments in Scotland, Bathgate seems poised to become the new beating heart of an entire industry.

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