THE village of Pennan welcomed a vocal hero yesterday when rock superstar Mark Knopfler visited the seaside hamlet made internationally famous by the film Local Hero.

It was a nostalgic return for the former Dire Straits guitarist who was last in Pennan 13 years ago for the filming of Local Hero for which he composed the musical soundtrack.

Yesterday, after unveiling a plaque on the wall of the Pennan Inn - opposite the world's most famous telephone kiosk - to commemorate the making of the film, he admitted he had been stunned by the success of the film which starred Burt Lancaster. ``It is amazing the impact the film had, not just with Scottish people, but people from all over,'' he said.

``The inn gets letters from people in Japan, America, everywhere.

``I didn't realise the film had such a huge effect because it never struck me as a massively successful film, but it seems that over the years it has managed to have a life.

``I can hardly believe it was 13 years ago. It seems like 13 minutes. I also remember we managed to record the ceilidh band in Banff Women's Institute Hall and that is part of the happy memories.''

Knopfler said that, unlike some of the band members, he had not appeared in the ceilidh scene. ``I have too much respect for good acting,'' he said.

However, watching the unveiling of the plaque, which was presented by the Scottish Film Council to mark a century of Scottish cinema, was Pennan harbourmaster Baden Gibson who did appear in the ceilidh scene giving an able performance as a local rather the worse for wear.

``They were filming for five weeks and I was an extra,'' he said. ``I had the part of a drunk. We had no idea how big the film would be at that time. People still flock here. I suppose it has been good for the village because, if it had not been for Local Hero, we would not have got our roads repaired.''

Baden, a Dire Straits fan, was looking forward to seeing Knopfler at the ceremony.

At the Pennan Inn they were queuing out the door, not just to see Knopfler, but also for lunch, and it is to the inn that the tourists flock.

Landlord Norrie Grierson has put it up for sale and plans to retire after spending the past nine years explaining to people that ``Pennan Beach'', as it appeared in the film, is 250 miles away in Morar.

He also explains that the phone box, which people travel the world to phone home from, is not the phone box they saw in the film. The real one was covered up and a prop was installed in a more photogenic location.

Visitors from Bosnia, Bulgaria, and Brazil are undaunted. There is a magic about Pennan which makes dreams come true.

According to Norrie the film is translated into almost every language and in the inn they can tell where it was shown a few weeks ago by the nationalities who turn up.

``It is still as popular as ever,'' he said, showing a letter he received from Hozumi Tanaki of Yokohama who visited in January.

It had always been his dream to visit Pennan since seeing the film. Standing on the shore had fulfilled that dream.

His dream now is to return and eat more seafood and drink more whisky!