Written and directed by the creators of the hit BBC sitcom Outnumbered – Guy Jenkin and Andy Hamilton – What We Did On Our Holiday, produced by Dan Winch, is a feel-good and thought-provoking comedy for all the family, following the story of a divorcing couple and their three young children as they take one last trip together to the Scottish Highlands to celebrate their granddad’s 75th birthday.
With improvisational techniques adopted similar to the BBC TV series Outnumbered, where the children answer with off the cuff unscripted responses, it’s been billed as a heart-warming, funny and ultimately uplifting comedy, with a cavalcade of interesting characters and events.
The film brings a spectacular array of excellent British talent together for the big screen, including former Doctor Who David Tennant, upcoming Gone Girl star Rosamund Pike and the comedian and actor Billy Connolly.
While there are still a couple of weeks to wait for the nationwide release on Friday 26 September, we caught up with producer Dan Winch to talk about the film and his experience on filming in Scotland.
Q: Already hugely anticipated, can you introduce us to the film first.
A: A hilarious journey through an unforgettable family holiday as a couple attempts to keep their impending divorce secret from their extended family. Doug (David Tennant), Abi (Rosamund Pike) and their three children travel to the Scottish Highlands for Doug’s father, Gordie’s (Billy Connolly) birthday party, where it’s soon clear that when it comes to keeping their secret under wraps their children are their biggest liability. From 9-year old Lottie’s notebook to keep track of lies so she remembers which ones to tell, to 4-year old Jess’s perverse attachment to a brick named Norman, for their parents a week has never seemed such a long time. But its middle child Mickey and his Granddad’s shared passion for Vikings which gives rise to the most far-reaching and unexpected consequences. When a day at the beach turns to tragedy, the children take matters into their own hands.
Q: After the critically-acclaimed Outnumbered series, are expectations absurdly high for What We Did On Our Holiday, and what should we expect from this movie?
A: It’s wonderful and exciting for us to hear that expectations are high for the film. Given Guy and Andy’s terrific success with Outnumbered over the years, it’s not surprising there’s anticipation. Guy and Andy explored their brilliantly scripted story with improvisation in the same way they did on Outnumbered. What makes the film quite different is the scale of the story and the events which crop up through the journey. This larger scale story is perfect for the big screen. The seamless, fresh and simply hilarious performances, within the often epic Scottish landscape, present a wonderful combination.
A: I wouldn’t want to spill the beans and single out one particular element of the story here. All I would say is that the film is perhaps less about conveying a single message, and more about creating a journey for our audience which can be related to on so many levels. While the film is incredibly funny, it also has a wonderful sensitivity and heart.
Q: With Scotland being packed with wonderful and scenic landscapes and great outdoors, is there one place that particularly stands out for you, and why?
A: Without a doubt this is Red Point beach (Gairloch). Guy, Andy and I spent considerable time searching for a beach in Scotland which not only suited the story, but also gave us a wonderful cinematic vista. A relative of Andy’s pointed us in the direction of Red Point, which is based on the North West coast facing the Isle of Skye. You only have to watch the film to know why this particular location stands out. Enjoy the view on the big screen! It was a credit to the fantastic support we received from the residents of Gairloch, the Gairloch Estate, the Crofters at Red Point, and Shona & Donald at Red Point Farm, which enable us to overcome the many logistical challenges needed in order to film here.
Q: What impresses you most about Scotland?
A: It never ceased to amaze me that we would come across amazing view after view. You only have to drive half an hour from the centre of Glasgow or Edinburgh, and you’re surrounded by the most spectacular landscape.
Q: If you could recommend one place to holiday in Scotland, what would it be and why?
A: Gairloch is very much at the top of my list of holiday destinations to recommend. Our visit there during filming was like a working holiday! The views are spectacular, the community welcoming, the wildlife amazing….what more can I say.
Q: If you were to describe Scotland in one word, what would it be?
A: I’m spoilt for words. It would have to be stunning. The time we spent making the film in Scotland is one I continue to remember as if it were yesterday.
Blissful sandy beaches with stunning sunsets, thousands of miles of coastline and islands with lots of pretty coves and bays – ideal for picnicking – shoreline walks and beach foraging, beautiful rolling countryside peppered with pretty towns and villages and stunning wildlife, Scotland drips from this movie.
What’s there not to like?
Summer may be over soon, but Scotland is beautiful all year round. Come autumn, you will be met with some of the most glorious sights as the landscape becomes a fiery tapestry ablaze with hues of yellows, reds and oranges.
And to learn more about Scotland on the silver screen, visit our film locations in Scotland page.