Glasgow & West Scotland

Scottish cash to back US sci-fi series Outlander

Outlander book and Scots actor Sam Heughan
Image caption Scots actor Sam Heughan will play one of the lead roles in Outlander

The arts body Creative Scotland is to help fund a major US science fiction series to be filmed in Scotland.

The US cable network Starz and Sony Pictures Television will begin shooting Outlander later this year.

Part of their plans include building a new television studio and production base at Cumbernauld, North Lanarkshire.

Creative Scotland will provide the production companies with financial support towards their shooting and studio costs.

The arts body is also helping the producers to identify locations and studio space for the series.

'Lasting legacy'

The level of support they will receive is still subject to negotiation but First Minister Alex Salmond said it would help "ensure a lasting legacy from this production".

He said: "We have huge potential to make Scotland a major centre for film production, but competition is fierce and bodies such as Creative Scotland are doing all they can to ensure that some of the most high-profile screen productions are attracted to Scotland, bringing industry jobs and securing incredible, money-can't-buy exposure for our breathtaking scenery."

Outlander will be adapted from American writer Diana Gabaldon's international best-selling series of seven books.

It tells the story of Claire and James Fraser, using time travel to slip between 18th and 20th Century Scotland.

Scottish actor Sam Heughan, who studied at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow, and who has starred in the TV shows Doctors and River City, has already been cast in the lead role.

The 32-year-old, who was born in New Galloway, Dumfriesshire, graduated from The Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, now known as the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

Tax reliefs

The filming of Outlander is expected to run for about 38 weeks during 2013-14.

As well as employing a local crew of about 200, an estimated 2,400 supporting roles are expected to be cast from within Scotland and the rest of the UK during the filming of the series.

Mr Salmond added: "This announcement, which could see a crew of around 200 assembled and an estimated spend of £20m in Scotland, is a wonderful endorsement of the scenery, talent and facilities on offer to film crews in this country, and I can't wait to see some distinctly Scottish locations on screen."

Last week, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said the production would benefit from a UK government decision last year to extend film tax reliefs to high-end television productions.

This effectively provides a tax credit worth 20% of corporation tax.

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