Highlands & Islands

Billy Holiday: Outnumbered writers on new Connolly film

Image copyright Lionsgate
Image caption Billy Connolly plays a grandfather in the film

What We Did On Our Holiday, a new film starring Billy Connolly and David Tennant which was shot in Scotland, will be premiered in London's Leicester Square later on Monday.

Here Guy Jenkin and Andy Hamilton, who wrote and directed the feature, explain the casting and how they selected the locations.

Jenkin and Hamilton are the writing duo behind Outnumbered, Drop the Dead Donkey and Not The Nine O'Clock News.

Their new film, What We Did On Our Holiday, sees Tennant's character Doug travel to the Highlands with his wife Abi - played by Rosamund Pike - and their three children to attend the birthday party of Doug's father, Gordie.

Part way through the comedy there is, in the words of Hamilton, an extraordinary turn of events.

While understandably not willing to give anything away about this plot twist, Hamilton and Jenkin were willing to wax lyrical on their cast and filming in Scotland.

"The list for the role Billy plays was very short. Basically it was Billy Connolly," said Jenkin.

"At the very beginning he wasn't in our heads, but as we moved onto the second and third draft we started thinking it was a role that needed that the power and ability to improvise that Billy can bring.

"We went to some lengths to persuade him to be in it."

Andy added: "The kids got on very well with Billy. They saw him as a very mischievous Santa."

Image copyright Lionsgate
Image caption David Tennant plays father-of-three Doug
Image caption The comedy Outnumbered is among Jenkin and Hamilton's best known work

Hamilton and Jenkin said they had long wanted to work with Tennant and Pike - whose films include Jack Reacher, The World's End and will soon be seen opposite Ben Affleck in Gone Girl.

Jenkin said: "We had not seen Tennant in a lot of comedy, but he has that quick silver acting ability.

"Ros was also someone Andy and I had wanted to work with both in our joint and individual projects.

"In the film An Education, she played a brilliant and difficult role in a way that was very real and very funny."

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Rosamund Pike will be seen in Gone Girl later this year

When scouting for locations, Scotland was already familiar to the writers having spent holidays there.

Hamilton's wife's family are from Nairn, a seaside town on the Moray Firth coast where Charlie Chaplin would holiday.

"Pretty much every summer we come up to Nairn," said Hamilton.

Scenes were also shot in Mallaig and the Trossachs.

One of Hamilton's relations tipped off him and Jenkin about a beach in the north-west Highlands which might suit their needs as a location.

Jenkin said: "They told us about Redpoint south of Gairloch.

"When we drove over the brow of a hill and saw it for the first time we were blown away. I don't think there is a landscape like it anywhere else in Britain or Europe."

What We Did On Our Holiday will be premiered in London, before special screenings in Glasgow on Tuesday and the film going out on general release later this month.

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