JAPANESE TV has finally found an actress to play the Scot who brought whisky to the land of the rising sun.

With just six months left until it starts to air a 150-episode mini-series about Kirkintilloch-born Rita Cowan, NHK has unveiled American Charlotte Kate Fox as its first ever Caucasian lead.

Producers, who expect millions to tune in to the series, had hoped to find someone who looked Scottish but spoke Japanese with an Osaka accent, and had a beautiful singing voice.

It appeared last night that they have now given up on that as 28-year-old Miss Fox, from New Mexico, spoke English at the press conference where she was unveiled.

"I am very honoured, and still can't believe I am standing in front of you now," she said in Tokyo after beating 500 other contenders for the prize role, despite her limited previous experience. "I did mainly theatre and some independent films in the United States."

Miss Fox is understood to have Scottish roots and producers yesterday confirmed that the early part of the series will feature Scotland. But they also admitted they will not stick absolutely faithfully to the story of Ms Cowan, who, with her husband, Masataka Taketsuru, created Japan's first "whisky" distillery. In fact, Rita will be known as "Ellie" in the soap and what producers called "fictional humorous episodes" will be added in to her already remarkable life story.

The real Rita met Mr Taketsuru when he came to Glasgow University in 1918 to study whisky-making and lodged with her mother. Ms Cowan had just lost both her father and her sweetheart and took up with the tall Japanese visitor, the son of a sake brewer from Osaka. Their relationship scandalised their respective families in both Scotland and Japan.

This storyline will feature in the soap, although it is not clear whether NHK will film in Scotland.

Ms Cowan then followed Mr Taketsuru to his homeland. Her adventures included being wrongly accused of being a Allied spy in the Second World War.