Lights, camera, action! To celebrate Scotland’s many starring roles on the small screen, we have created a new guide, TV Set in Scotland. It showcases some popular Scottish TV locations and a few surprising connections you might not know.
1. Kirkwall’s connection to The Simpsons
Ever watched The Simpsons and wondered where gruff Groundskeeper Willie comes from? Well, wonder no more, as Groundskeeper Willie comes from Kirkwall in Orkney. The creators of The Simpsons unveiled his Orcadian roots in a 2012 episode, The Daughter Also Rises.
Kirkwall is the ancient Norse capital of Orkney. Visit the viking cathedral of St Magnus, the busy fishing harbour and Highland Park Distillery. Orkney is made up of 70 islands with wildlife, beaches, history and culture to discover. See our short break in Orkney itinerary for more ideas to explore this archipelago further.
2. Where is Glenbogle?
The popular BBC series Monarch of the Glen (2000-05) was filmed in the Highlands. The private estate of Ardverikie House played the lead role as Glenbogle Castle with further filming taking place around the Highlands, including the beautiful Loch Laggan and Newtonmore.
One of the places that regularly popped up in the show that you can visit is the Clan Macpherson Museum in Newtonmore. To eagle-eyed viewers, it is probably better known as the exterior of the Glenbogle Tearoom and Post Office. Complete the Glenbogle experience by hopping aboard a steam train on the Strathspey Railway at Aviemore and travelling to Broomhill. The station at Broomhill doubled as Glenbogle Station in the show.
3. Regal Sands in Aberdeenshire
The majestic beach at Cruden Bay is a fitting location for the popular Netflix royal drama, The Crown. Situated on the Aberdeenshire coast, Cruden Bay doubles as the Castle of Mey’s beach while the ruins of Slains Castle, north of the bay, stand in for the Castle of Mey. A popular beach for visitors, head to Cruden Bay and take a walk on the golden sands. You can visit the real Castle and Gardens of Mey near Thurso on the Caithness coast. Bought by Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, in 1952 it was her private residence away from the bustle of the royal palaces.
4. A Christmas special in Argyll
Downton Abbey set in Yorkshire moved north for their 2012 Christmas special to the fictional Duneagle Castle. So where is Duneagle Castle? Filming actually took place at Inverarary Castle, Argyll. Home of the Duke of Argyll and his family, you can visit the castle for yourself and see the State Dining Room and take a walk through the formal gardens that featured on the show. Be sure to explore the area further and visit Inveraray town and other places of interest along the picturesque Loch Fyne.
5. Paisley and the Doctor
Take a trip to one of the biggest towns in Scotland, Paisley. This town is famous for its Paisley pattern shawls and 12th century abbey but do you know what connects it to the popular long running sci-fi drama Dr Who? Actor and 10th Doctor, David Tennant, was raised in Paisley. Not only that, Steven Moffat, former Dr Who writer and executive producer, also hails from the town. Sci-fi connections don’t stop there either. Take a tour of Paisley Abbey and see if you can spot the unusual alien gargoyle decorating the exterior of the abbey, inspired by Ridley Scott’s film Alien (1979).
6. ‘Beam me up, Scotty’
Do you know that Scotty from Star Trek was born in Linlithgow? The West Lothian town is the reputed birthplace of this sci-fi character. Scotty, the chief engineer of the Starship Enterprise, is described as a son of the town in the 1989 spin-off novel Vulcan’s Glory, written by Dorothy “DC” Fontana – a writer and story editor on the original series, first broadcast on American television in 1966. Linlithgow, famous for its renaissance style royal palace and the birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots, lies halfway between Falkirk and Edinburgh. Spend a day in the town and visit the palace and nearby loch as well as enjoying a boat trip on the Union Canal.
7. There’s drama in them hills!
The BBC drama Hope Springs (2009) was filmed in the small village of Wanlockhead in Dumfries & Galloway. Doubling as a Highland village for the show, Wanlockhead is actually the highest village in Scotland and is situated in the Lowther Hills. A former lead mining village, you can visit the Museum of Lead Mining and experience life underground on a guided tour of the mine.
The nearby village of Leadhills in Lanarkshire recently made a on screen appearance in the Netflix thriller Calibre as the fictional Highland village of Culcarran. Why not explore the area and travel between the two villages on the Leadhills and Wanlockhead Railway? This narrow gauge railway operates between the villages during the summer weekends.
Discover more about film and TV locations in Scotland and plan your own location spotting trip.