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Cumbernauld lands role in production of US TV series

An American television network is to build a studio and production base in Scotland to film a new drama series which could bring £20m to the Scottish economy.

The production of Outlander, which will be made by cable network Starz and Sony Pictures Television, also raises the prospect of Scotland finally having its own major film and TV studio.

It will be filmed in a converted warehouse in Cumbernauld for around 38 weeks between this year and next, with 16 episodes of the time-travelling drama being made.

Outlander is an adaptation of a best-selling series of seven books by Diana Gabaldon, which tell the story of Claire and James Fraser, who use time travel to slip between 18th and 20th century Scotland.

Gabaldon's seven-book series has sold more than 20 million copies. The series will be written and executive produced by Ronald D Moore, the writer and producer of Battlestar Galactica, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: The Next Generation.

The lead role will be played by Sam Heughan, a Scottish actor who trained at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow, and has appeared in Doctors and River City.

The production, attracted to the UK by new tax breaks for "high-end TV", will commission around 200 Scotland-based crew, and more than 2000 supporting artist roles cast from within Scotland and the rest of the UK.

It is expected that the studio, although primarily for use in making television, could also be used for films and become the centre of major film making in Scotland.

A statement from the UK Treasury said it will "leave a studio legacy" when the filming of the series ends.

A leading Hollywood producer said last night: "There are now several post-industrial conversions that are tuning in to the new tax relief-induced business and that can only be good for the business overall. Not to detract from any of that in any way, I still maintain that a larger facility is needed if Scotland is to build a longer-term and more sustainable industrial base for itself."

The UK Government announced in 2012 that film tax reliefs would be extended to high-end television industries, animation and video games.

Tax relief for film supported more than 1100 film productions between 2007 to 2012.

George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, said: "I am delighted that Outlander will be filmed in Scotland, and welcome the extra investment that will be made to the Scottish television industry.

"I hope that this series will make the most of the stunning landscape and the talented actors, crew and facilities that Scotland has to offer. This is an exciting development for television in Scotland and shows the clear benefit of the UK's high-end TV tax credits."

Fiona Hyslop, cabinet secretary for culture, said: "The decision to film Outlander in Scotland is a welcome vote of confidence in our first-rate facilities and talented production crews, and cements our nation's reputation as a sought-after location for major productions.

"Scotland has the capacity and talent to become a global centre of TV and film production, and the Scottish Government has consistently championed Scotland as a location for international film and TV productions."

The project will be produced by Left Bank Pictures, Tall Ship Productions, and Story Mining & Supply Company, and will begin shooting in September.

Caroline Parkinson, a creative director at Creative Scotland, said: "As well as delighting Outlander fans, the 16-episode order will provide further sustainability for the country's film crews and facilities, and will continue to build Scotland's international reputation in the screen industries.

"Providing opportunities to develop current skills and training, the filming will serve to strengthen Scotland's filming provision infrastructure through the creation of the Outlander studio space, as well as associated workshop and production facilities."

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