Tonight Cat, I’m going to be Scotland’s ‘tinseltown’; Cumbernauld prepares to set the scene for Outlander

Written by Scott Campbell.
Published at 19:30 on 28 August 2013.
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CUMBERNAULD will soon see the new U.S. tv series, Outlander, commence production. 

Although the exact location of the show’s production has been kept under wraps, eagle-eyed fans have not been deterred, with some trying to dig deeper than the already location information of the show being produced in an ‘old warehouse’.

Rumours spread online quickly; suggesting that the town’s former Co-operative warehouse and Thomas Pettie Steel Fabricators facility were the top two locations.

Today, though, speculation has all but come to an end after the most likely location was revealed as the old Isola warehouse in the Wardpark Industrial Estate area of Cumbernauld.

The Wyndford Road warehouse is the most likely location of the show’s production, with productions already spotted in the area, alongside beefed-up security. 

In 1985, Rütgerswerke AG purchased Isola Werke AG, with the Isola Werke UK subsidiary organisation opening up the new Cumbernauld plant, as a result.

Then, in 1999, Isola Werke UK doubled their production capacity, in Cumbernauld, although a fire at the back of the facility’s premises, in 2003, slowed down the production of the facility’s main product – base products for printed circuit boards – before the facility closed its doors on February, 10th, 2006.

Speculation about the Isola facility’s starring role came earlier this month, when a North Lanarkshire Council press release said the show would be produced out of a “former electronics plant in Cumbernauld”.

At the time, North Lanarkshire Council’s Regeneration and Infrastructure Convener, David Fagan welcomed the development.

He said: "I have already visited the site and the transformation is incredible.

"A number of local companies are already on-site preparing the once-derelict building to be transformed into 18th century and 1940s Scotland.”

The production is expected to see nearly two-hundred crew members work out of the Cumbernauld production site, with 2,000 supporting actors needing to be cast.

"It is a huge feather in the cap for North Lanarkshire that we have been chosen as the home for Outlander, already being pitched as Scotland's answer to Game of Thrones,” Cllr Fagan continued.

"Game of Thrones has brought huge benefits to Ireland as a whole and Belfast, where the production team is based, in particular.

"We have already spoken with the production company about assistance we can give and the potential for jobs and training opportunities."

US pay-tv network Starz are behind the show, which will be produced in a partnership between Tall Ship Productions, Story Mining and Supply Company and Left Bank Pictures, in association with Sony Pictures Television.

"Outlander is a hugely ambitious project and finding the right location was incredibly important,” Left Bank Pictures Managing Director Marigo Kahoe explained. 

“In Lanarkshire not only do we have access to the cream of Scottish production talent but we are able to film at some striking locations, which will bring the beauty of Scotland onto TV screens around the world."

The show’s production is expected to last 38 weeks; ending in 2014, with the show’s broadcast expected late next year, as part of a sixteen episode series.

The Outlander show is based on the best-selling series of seven books, by Diana Gabaldon, which have sold more than 20 million copies, to date

Councillor Fagan added: "A lot will depend on how the series goes down with American audiences.

"But the books have a huge fan base and the producers have brought in a top writer to make the books come alive on screen.”

Outlander tells the story of Claire Randall, a former WWII Army nurse transported back in time to 18th century where she meets, and eventually marries, Highland warrior Jamie Fraser. 

The show’s writers, though, say that they will stick as close to Gabaldon’s original characters and plot, as much as possible.

"Cumbernauld is no stranger to film and TV production - who can ever forget Gregory's Girl - and to have a modern film and TV studio right on our doorstep is a fantastic opportunity for the whole area," Cllr Fagan concluded.

Commencing next month, the Outlander series’ production has won financial assistance from Creative Scotland and is set to have been attracted to Scotland by a 20% tax break from the UK Treasury.

The show’s production is also expected to bring £20million into the Scottish economy, with the top line-up who will help to produce the show, online and offline, already being unveiled.

Scottish actor, Sam Heughan, will front the main male role for the Outlander series – Jamie Fraser, it was announced on July 9th, 2013.

Heughan, 33; an actor since 2001, hails from New Galloway.  

Trained at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow, he has appeared in TV productions such as Doctors and River City.

Heughan’s appointment to the role was the first cast announcement made by the show’s producers, with Outlander’s author, Diana Gabaldon saying of his success: “Oh. My. God. That man is a Scot to the bone and Jamie Fraser to the heart. Having seen Sam Heughan not just act, but be Jamie, I feel immensely grateful to the production team for their painstaking attention to the soul of the story and characters.”

Then, on August 8th, 2013, Starz announced that Tobias Menzies would take on the dual roles of Frank Randall and Jonathan “Black Jack” Randall in the show.

Born in London, Menzies, 39, attended the liberal Frensham Heights School, near Farnham, in Surrey, before attending Stratford-upon-Avon College's "Year-out" drama course, between 1993 and 94, and later graduating from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, in 1998.

Known for his roles in TV productions Rome and Spooks, Menzies has been an active actor since the turn of the millennium.

In a summary of Menzies’s roles, Outlander’s production team declared, “Frank Randall is Claire’s 20th century husband and a professional historian with a deep interest in the 18th century and his own genealogy. Jonathan “Black Jack” Randall is Frank’s ancestor from the 18th century. A Captain in the English Army posted in Scotland during a time when rebellion was rife.”

On August 20th, 2013, the show’s producers then announced that John Dahl would be directing the first two episodes of the Outlander series.

Best known for shows such as Dexter, Breaking Bad, and Justified, Dahl joins an already famous production team, including writers Toni Graphia, Matt Roberts, Ira Behr and Anne Kenney.

A spokeswoman for Outlander’s production said that no confirmation or further information about the exact details of show’s production were available, due to “security reasons”.

For more information on the Outlander series, and for the latest news, you can visit Cumbernauld Media’s special feature page on the show’s production, here: http://www.cumbernauldmedia.com/outlander

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