THERE are many pleasingly small things about the claims to greatness gently advanced by the tiny town of Millport. For a start, it's no big difficulty getting there, Millport being located on Scotland's most accessible island, Great Cumbrae, 10 minutes from Largs.

Likewise, Millport's cathedral is Britain's smallest, offering room to 100. In its little way, Millport can also boast - quietly, of course - of having Britain's narrowest house frontage, which is about wide enough to accommodate its own front door and not much else.

All this - and a smidgen more - lies behind Millport's impending small-screen immortalisation this weekend. Aye, for serio-comic truths about Millport, the place, tune in to the pilot episode of Millport, the TV sitcom, on BBC1 at 5.20pm on Sunday.

Slotted into BBC Scotland's sport-saturated TV schedules at the last minute, the telly Millport is naturally related to Millport, the six-part radio comedy drama. By coincidence, the latter can still be savoured on Wednesday nights on Radio 4 at 6.30pm, where its second series is currently being re-run.

Actor-dramatist Lynn Ferguson is one of the stars of Millport, as well as the show's creator, and she'll soon be hard at work writing a third radio series, due for broadcast in November. Why Millport? And why Millport?

''For one thing, Millport used to be the Ferguson family's holiday home,'' says the stand-up comic and star of three successive award-winning Edinburgh Fringe one-woman shows. ''Every summer in my childhood, we'd escape from Cumbernauld to a room-and-kitchen we had there.

''More to the point, though, Millport is a slightly mad place with a strong identity and a strong sense of community. What's mad about it is its beauty in relation to its geographical location. You don't expect to find a lovely little piece of nineteenth-century Italy just off the coast of the central Scottish industrial belt.

''I'm obviously biased towards Millport, but I'm not the only person who reckons it's a gem. Our Millport pilot was directed by Malcolm Mowbray, a very posh, well-brought-up Englishman who directed A Private Function. He's done loads of other sophisticated stuff with Alan Bennett, too, and he said he thought Millport was dead continental.

''In a dramatic sense, I wrote Millport for two reasons. First, it's to see what might happen to the same eight people who live in the same place, and who see the same faces every day. I felt that putting them all in the same town would offer more possibilities than putting them in the same fictional workplace, say.

''There's also dramatic tension between Millport and the character

I play, Irene. She's a woman who is

driven by her aspirations to leave the town - and yet she never fulfils them.''

When Ferguson herself last succeeded in leaving Millport, heading back to longstanding exile in London when the filming of the TV pilot ended in March, she soon started something else entirely. Ferguson's next production, due to emerge in mid-December, is her first child.

''I didn't really need any help from the antenatal clinic in confirming the date of our baby's conception as being the exact time I returned from Scotland to rendezvous with my man in our home in London, but they confirmed it anyway,'' says Ferguson. ''I suppose it serves me right for ever leaving Millport behind.''

When Millport airs on TV on Sunday, Ferguson will again be absent from Scotland. To be exact, she'll be in the Chateau de Lanniron, near the town of Quimper, in Brittany, France. She'll have 80 folk with her, all of them family or close friends.

One of the assemblage will be a particularly close friend of Lynn's. Aye, by the time Millport finishes at 5.50pm, Lynn will have been officially living in an institution for two hours - the blessed institution known as marriage, hurrah!

In the interests of truth and accuracy, Lynn actually acquired her emigre Scots husband, Mark Tweddle, a management consultant, in January. Sunday's French ceremony will thus consist of an informal marital blessing.

''We went through the legal routine in a secretive, socially-invisible way at the start of the year in Dunoon, just before Millport's filming began,'' says Ferguson, who had a similarly unseen air about her own most prominent acting role to date: she was the voice of a rebellious Scottish hen, Mac, in the Hollywood animated cartoon blockbuster Chicken Run.

''We'd considered having our wedding in Millport, but we thought it might look to locals as though we were showing off - Author of Millport Deigns to Wed in Millport like Overbearing Showbiz Nelly. That said, getting our marriage blessed in a French chateau might look a bit swanky and showbizzy, but we chose it for down-to-earth reasons.

''Chiefly, it's because it's got its own caravan park next door, where all our pals and relatives can stay. It's a really nice place, too, as we found when we were on holiday in Brittany last year.''

If Ferguson's path to familial bliss is at present running with relative smoothness, Millport's route to the telly has been long, slow, and beset with problems. ''We filmed a very, very bad Millport TV pilot five years ago, before the radio series,'' says Ferguson.

''It was shot very traditionally in a studio using boxy, generic indoor sets, which didn't help. Later, I found out that the director had repeatedly told all the cast that he had no idea what Millport's script was about. That was a bit of a handicap, too.

''When it was finished, there was general agreement that the whole thing was awful, dreadful. It was so poor that it couldn't have been screened, and me saying so caused somewhat of a furore. I took the huff with the whole notion of a TV Millport. It was dead and buried for about two years.''

In contrast, Millport, the town, played a crucial role in saving Ferguson's acting career. ''About 10 years ago I had to have a throat operation. For the sake of my voice - something that actors use quite a lot, really - it was vital that I spend a month after the op without speaking.

''So, off I went to Millport, armed with jigsaws, books, knitting, and

crocheting. I did have to venture out in public every so often, of course, and I was worried about trying to get by for four weeks on grinning a lot, shrugging my shoulders, and pointing at things.

''It was thus very kind of the Millportians to pretend I wasn't barmy as I wandered about writing them messages on a mini-blackboard I carried with me. I'm glad that they've seemed pleased with the radio version of Millport, too, and didn't seem too upset about this big cast and TV crew monopolising the town's cafe, The Ritz. They were also tolerant on the day we cleaned the Ritz out of the locals' favourite delicacy - hot peas.''

That's Millport. Not the largest place, but big on pea generosity and amused tolerance.