IT has delivered Bridget Jones's Baby to Barra, Hollywood's biggest stars to tiny Highland villages and is currently dealing with Fantastic Beasts in the most far-flung parts of Scotland.

But now the Screen Machine, Scotland's mobile cinema, is to undergo a refit so that it can carry on showing blockbuster movies as well as popular independent hits across the Highlands and Islands.

Its operators are now trying to get round as many of their usual locations, before driving the mobile unit to France for a major refit in the spring.

So in the next few week it will visit Lochgilphead, Tarbert, Loch Fyne, Gigha and Islay where it will be showing the likes of Storks, Bridget Jones's Baby and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

The Screen Machine, basically an articulated tractor and trailer, uses hydraulic systems to expand the trailer to accommodate an audience of 80 in multiplex-style comfort.

But these systems are subject to considerable wear and tear as it is set up and dismantled three or four times every week, regularly being loaded on and off ferries, and is often set up on sites fully exposed to salt and sea air.

Without this £100,000 plus refit, it would become subject to an increasing number of breakdowns, and would be unlikely to be able to continue full operation for more than another year or two at best.

The current Screen Machine has been on the road since 2005, spending up to 48 weeks a year bringing the big screen experience to communities across the north.

In that time it has travelled the equivalent of going eight times round the earth, or almost as far as to the moon

Fiona Fowler marketing officer, for Regional Screen Scotland said it will be off the road in April and May but the work should add a minimum of six more years to its operational life.

She said: "We had a two week break over Christmas, and returned to the road on last week. We are aiming to get round as many of the 40 locations that we regularly visit as we can, before heading over to France. The first quarter of the year is usually our busiest, and we are looking forward to bringing our customers Sully, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them, Rogue One, La La Land, Moana and much more."

She thought the Lady in the Van, Alan Bennett's tale of the eccentric who lived in the back of a van in his driveway for 15 years, had been particularly popular in 2016 in their network of venues from Raasay to Rousay and Tomintoul to Tiree. The latest Bridget Jones offering had also been successful.

"But we are planning doing a bit of number crunching over to see how well various films have performed for us over the past year," she added.

She said when the Screen Machine is in France, the team would still be busy: "We are progressing plans with Alzheimer’s Scotland to bring Alzheimer’s/Dementia friendly screenings to certain communities. We are at the very early stages but plan pilot this in Lochcarron in February, and if it goes well, we’d like to roll out more.

"Over the past couple of months we have also been working with Street Level Photoworks and photographer John Maher (ex drummer with Buzzcocks who now lives on Harris) to bring photo exhibitions to Screen Machine audiences. While audiences are settling down before the main film, they will also be able to see an exhibition of photography."

Regional Screen Scotland has secured funding from the National Lottery through Creative Scotland’s Open Project Fund and Highlands and Islands Enterprise, and sponsorship from the Royal Bank of Scotland, to meet the costs of Screen Machine's refit.

The service was originally launched in 1998. It was reviving the tradition of taking movies to some of the most remote communities in the land established by the Highlands and Islands Film Guild between 1946-71. The guild itself had continued a pre-war initiative to make non-commercial cinema available to rural areas, which was carried on during the Second World War through the Ministry of Information and the Evacuation Film Scheme. Its offerings were rather different to Bridget Jones.