Tales from the bartop at the Aberdeenshire ‘Local Hero’ pub

Bill Forsyth’s international hit film Local Hero put Aberdeenshire firmly on the map in the 1980s.

Nearly 40 years after the movie premiere, Local Hero has been adapted for the stage by an award-winning creative team. Bill Forsyth and Mark Knopfler have teamed up with David Greig and John Crowley to create the brand new musical stage production, which is currently enjoying its world premiere at the Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh until May 4.

Fans of the movie will have fond memories of the MacAskill Arms – a traditional pub in the fictional village of Ferness. Run by Gordon and his partner Stella, the pub was the beating heart of the local community.

The Aberdeenshire village of Pennan was the home of Ferness and visitors from all over the world have made the pilgrimage to the sleepy seaside village to retrace the steps of the big Hollywood names and home grown Scottish talent that starred in the film.

What many don’t know is that whilst Pennan was the exterior setting for the MacAskill Arms, the interior scenes were actually shot in The Ship Inn – 11 miles away in Banff!

The cast and creative team of Local Hero visit The Ship Inn, Banff. Photo: Mihaela Bodlovic

And, it wasn’t just a film crew taking over this humble local pub. Before filming of Local Hero began, the production company completely renovated the inside of The Ship Inn. The most notable change was to the pub’s original long bar. It was converted into a unique boat shape to resemble the bow of a ship!

Local Hero cast members Julian Forsyth and Simon Rouse in The Ship Inn, Banff. Photo: Mihaela Bodlovic

For publican Margaretann Johnston, a movie crew taking over and redesigning her pub would definitely feature on a list of fantastic and strange things she’s seen over the years, but it’s by no means the only unlikely thing to happen.

“There are plenty of shenanigans in the pub,” she explained, “although it’s all of the good fun variety. We are welcoming and friendly – and you are sure of a good time!”

“We once had a man pop his head in the door and ask if he could bring his pet in. I said ‘of course’ and the next thing he walks in with a parrot – not in a cage – who proceeded to walk up and down the bar top, talking and swearing.”

Matthew Pidgeon as “Gordon” and Damian Humbley as “Mac” enjoying a drink in the “MacAskill Arms” on stage at the Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh. Photo: Stephen Cummiskey

And, of course the pub has played host to many Local Hero fans, desperate to recreate their favourite scenes and have a go behind the bar.

“A lot of people have visited over the years and they want to quote the ‘I’d make a good Gordon, Gordon’ line and get their photo taken behind the bar, which of course we let them do.

“It’s great for them to visit and see for themselves the inside of the ‘MacAskill Arms’!”

Local Hero is running at the Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh until May 4. For more information and to book tickets, click the link here.

Source: SPONSORED: Tales from the bartop at the Aberdeenshire ‘Local Hero’ pub | Press and Journal

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