A SCOTTISH actor who ap-pears with Billy Connolly in the Oscar-tipped film John Brown was yesterday hailed as a hero after saving a young boy from drowning in the River Tay.

Gerard Butler, 26, was having a picnic with his mother at Taymouth Castle, Kenmore, a setting for parts of the film, when he heard a young boy screaming that his friend was in trouble.

Butler, who plays the young-er brother of the film's main character, raced to the riverside and saw a youngster in difficulty. He jumped in and pulled 14-year-old Daniel Smith to safety after he had disappeared below the surface.

The incident follows a number of drownings across the UK during the current hot spell, including 14-year-old John MacDonald at Balloch and Colin Clark, 24, in the River Dee.

Butler's mother, Mrs Margaret Coll, from Comrie, Perth-shire, said they had decided to go to Taymouth Castle because of its connections with John Brown, which premieres at next month's Edinburgh Film Festival.

She said: ''We were having a picnic behind the Kenmore Hotel, where Gerard stayed du-ring filming, when we heard a young boy screaming.

''The next thing I knew Gerard was racing along the riverbank. He saw the boy under the water and dived in. He swam to the side and got the water out of his lungs.''

Mr Butler said: ''I wouldn't call myself a hero. I just acted instinctively. When I brought him out he was lifeless. I'm just glad he's all right now.

''We went to Kenmore be-cause it brought back memories of filming. The river was so beautiful when I was there that I wanted to go back.''

A Tayside Police spokesman said: ''This man had the cour-age and presence of mind to act quickly. If it had not been for him I doubt the boy would have survived.''

The teenager, thought to be from the North-East of England, was camping in the area with three friends and an aunt and uncle. He was detained in Perth Royal Infirmary, but police said his condition was not thought to be life-threatening.

Butler played Renton in the play Trainspotting before landing the role of Archie Brown. John Brown, a film about Queen Victoria's relationship with her gillie, also stars Judi Dench.