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£20m US tv production will be made in Cumbernauld

Written by Scott Campbell.
Published at 12:06 GMT on Saturday, July 20th, 2013.

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Show is based on seven-book series. 

CUMBERNAULD; the backdrop to BBC Three drama ‘The Crash’ and Bill Forsyth’s Gregory’s Girl will now be home to a major US television production.

US cable network Starz has teamed up with Sony Pictures Television to bring drama series Outlander to Cumbernauld, in a production which is hoped the bring £20m to the Scottish piggy bank.

The Herald reports today that a converted warehouse in Cumbernauld will be used for up to 38 weeks, between now and next year, in a production which will see 16 episodes of the US show produced.

An adaptation of Diana Gabaldon’s best-selling series of seven books –which sold more than 20 million copies, the show Outlander tells the story of characters Clair and James Fraser, who use time travel to travel between the 18th and 20th century periods of Scotland.

The series will see 200 crew come to Scotland, with more than 2000 supporting artist roles cast from Scotland and the rest of the UK, as the show’s top executives prepare to visit the ‘Nauld.

Attracted to the UK by new UK Government tax breaks for "high-end TV", the series could see famous names come to Cumbernauld, including the series’ writer and executive producer, Ronald D Moore – who credentials include Battlestar Galactica, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Scottish actor Sam Heughan has been declared as the face behind the lead role. Mr Heughan was trained at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow, and has appeared in TV productions such as Doctors and River City.

The series was said to be attracted to the UK because of the country’s tax breaks for high-end television productions, something which was announced by the UK Government in 2012, in order to bolster the UK economy by helping the television, animation and video games industries. Although, tax relief for film productions has helped to support 1,100 film productions between 2007 and 2012.

Commenting on the announcement George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, said: "I am delighted that Outlander will be filmed in Scotland, and welcome the extra investment that will be made to the Scottish television industry.

"I hope that this series will make the most of the stunning landscape and the talented actors, crew and facilities that Scotland has to offer. This is an exciting development for television in Scotland and shows the clear benefit of the UK's high-end TV tax credits."

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Adding to Mr Osborne’s comments, a statement from the UK Treasury said that the new Cumbernauld-based production will "leave a studio legacy" when the filming is completed, words which have raises expectations that the new studio could also become an epicentre for major film making in Scotland.

Talking to the Herald, last night, a leading Hollywood producer said: "There are now several post-industrial conversions that are tuning in to the new tax relief-induced business and that can only be good for the business overall. Not to detract from any of that in any way, I still maintain that a larger facility is needed if Scotland is to build a longer-term and more sustainable industrial base for itself."

Fiona Hyslop, cabinet secretary for culture, said: "The decision to film Outlander in Scotland is a welcome vote of confidence in our first-rate facilities and talented production crews, and cements our nation's reputation as a sought-after location for major productions.

"Scotland has the capacity and talent to become a global centre of TV and film production, and the Scottish Government has consistently championed Scotland as a location for international film and TV productions."

Shooting for Outlander will kick off in September, with the project being produced by Left Bank Pictures, Tall Ship Productions, and Story Mining & Supply Company.

Caroline Parkinson, a creative director at Creative Scotland, said: "As well as delighting Outlander fans, the 16-episode order will provide further sustainability for the country's film crews and facilities, and will continue to build Scotland's international reputation in the screen industries.

"Providing opportunities to develop current skills and training, the filming will serve to strengthen Scotland's filming provision infrastructure through the creation of the Outlander studio space, as well as associated workshop and production facilities."

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