THE much-anticipated second series of Irvine Welsh’s Crime arrives on our screens this week and alongside Dougray Scott as grizzled police detective Ray Lennox, there is another big Scottish star set to impress: Edinburgh. 

As is the case with much of Welsh’s work, his hometown takes centre stage in the ITVX drama. But how to bring that distinctive vision of the Scottish capital to life? Step forward location manager Gordon Keen, who was tasked with finding the scene-setting backdrops for the show. 

Eagle-eyed viewers will recognise many of Edinburgh’s famed landmarks. The debut series, which aired in 2021, featured Calton Hill, the Old Town and New Town, Waverley Station, Cramond causeway and the Dumbiedykes housing estate in the shadow of Arthur’s Seat.

What spots can we expect this time around? Keen, 57, is the man in the know and there is plenty to talk about. “Over both seasons of Crime, there were well in excess of 200 locations,” he says, adding that highlights of the latest instalment include Tynecastle Park, Dean Village and Inverleith Park.  

And it’s not just Edinburgh that will enjoy the spotlight: Glasgow and the west of Scotland will also get in on the action (Paisley’s Robertson Viewpoint, aka the “Car Park in the Sky”, was one memorable last-minute addition to the locations list).  

Keen, whose past incarnations include a stint as guitarist with indie pop band BMX Bandits and managing the London/Berlin-based independent label Weekender Records, has worked in the TV and film industry for the best part of 20 years.

His impressive CV includes big-budget projects Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw and Tetris (the latter movie saw Keen help transform the concourse outside Glasgow’s Emirates Arena, overlooking Celtic Park, into San Francisco airport).

South Lanarkshire-based Keen has worked on both series of Crime. “As location manager, I am one of the earliest people on the production, so generally receive the scripts predominantly in draft form,” he explains. 

“I break the scripts down into locations and what potentially could be set builds. Sometimes locations can be so specific that there may only be a couple of places that you can actually consider. There can be logistics and time constraints too.”

Yet Keen clearly relishes the challenges of being kept on his toes. “It is an ever-changing landscape,” he says. “The inevitability of filming is that you get script changes and cast availability that may affect when we are scheduling something. That may then involve a location change. 

“As much as we try to pin down what we do in advance, there is always an element of having to be prepared for all eventualities.”

Here, Keen shares some of the key locations that will light up the second series of Crime. 

“In terms of challenges in season two – not to give too much away – there was a requirement for us to use a well,” reveals Keen. “There are a number of wells that exist in different places, but the actual logistics of filming inside a well are somewhat challenging. 

“Another challenge was to find an exterior in a post-industrial landscape to fit with the script. We needed something that looked like countryside but had a post-industrial backdrop. Eventually, after a great deal of scouting, we found this incredible site out at the old Ravenscraig site in Motherwell. 

“There were builders doing groundworks nearby and it was about to become a new housing estate. But we managed to get a window of time to shoot there. Then there was the logistics of getting vehicles in. We had to use an existing track and do a lot of work to make it safe, but also keep it wild because we didn’t want to impinge upon the location.

“In the end, we constructed an incredible set which, having seen the rushes of it, is really quite something. It feels claustrophobic, dark, exciting and frightening.” 

“We used Argyle House in Edinburgh as a police HQ and shot there in season one,” says Keen. “We were going back in season two when they informed us that they were about to remodel the whole facade of the building. 

“That suddenly became very time-bound. We had to reschedule and get everybody in quite quickly. We had to close roads round about it because we had actors coming in and out, as well as police cars and motorbikes. 

“That was one where it felt like we had a lot of time and then suddenly didn’t. But we managed to pull it off and it was great. It was exciting to work under very tight time constraints to do that.” 

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“Without going into the reasons why, we wanted to shoot in Tynecastle at night,” says Keen, cryptically. “Again, that was a very different type of challenge. It meant persuading Hearts, who were wonderful to deal with, that not only did we want into their stadium at night, but we wanted an entirely empty stadium, needed the floodlights on and able to be in the centre of the pitch.”


“Hillhead Library had never been filmed in before,” he says. “The rooms upstairs were absolutely perfect for an austere police interview board room. The kind of place where senior police officers would interview other police.

“We managed to shoot while the library was open downstairs. Luckily, libraries are quite quiet places. We actually shot in the west end of Glasgow quite a bit in season one and two.”

“We didn’t shoot here in season one but did for season two,” says Keen. “Dean Village gave us so much as a location. It has the lovely bridge and the river. It is very iconic Edinburgh.”
“We shot one of a number of scenes here where dead bodies are discovered,” says Keen. “Inverleith Park has a crossroads where the four pathways eventually meet at the statue in the middle.

“Lo and behold our director, quite rightly as I thought he would, wanted to film right on that crossroads. We then expanded and went into the nearby allotments and shot on different parts of the paths. 

“When you look in one direction from Inverleith Park, you have the skyline of Edinburgh. It is quite an unusual angle to see the skyline from. Every location manager will say the same thing; we are always trying to find somewhere that no-one else has shot before.” 


“We had very short notice on this one,” he says. “It was a camping scene set in a rural location. It is a scene that is both dramatic but also, as with a lot of Irvine Welsh’s writing, there is a real degree of humour and great gags. 

“We wanted a backdrop that could be Edinburgh. When David Blair came on as director for the second filming block of season two, we’d been looking at parks around Edinburgh and the Lothians. He said: ‘I think it would work really well at the Robertson Viewpoint car park.’

“At one side of Paisley, you climb up to the car park and it gives you this amazing background. At night, you can see a series of lights and it looks fantastic. With script changes and 48 hours to go and no location buttoned down, he asked me could we shoot there?

“I will be eternally grateful to Renfrewshire Council. They pulled it out the bag and enabled us to use the car park. I must admit, though, I had a couple of sleepless nights, waiting for the phone to ring and word coming back to say, ‘yes, you can have it’ and ‘yes, you can close the bulk of it’ and ‘yes, you can put all your tech vehicles up there’ and ‘yes, you can do it at night’. We did it and it worked well.”

“We shot scenes for season two outside the Scottish Office in Leith. I said to my team, ‘I don’t think they are going to allow us to block off the entrance to the Scottish Office, but we will give it a go …’ Luckily for us they were very amenable. 

“It is helpful that Irvine Welsh is so iconic within Scottish culture now. When a show he has penned is going to be shooting somewhere you get a lot of goodwill. People want to help and realise the importance of Edinburgh being used as a backdrop.”

Crime series two comes to ITVX and STV Player from Thursday