A little movie trip around Berwickshire Coast film locations


With local resident, Alan Dearling

Firstly, a hands-up. I’ve not been able to access viewings of all these films and TV programmes. And in a few cases, I don’t want to! But, it has still been interesting to try and piece together this collection – all of which include at least momentary glimpses of the Scottish/English border coastal areas, from Berwick-upon-Tweed in England to St Abbs in Scotland. It’s been fun and interesting talking to lots of locals in order to put the article together.


The Witch’s Daughter is a children’s novel by Nina Bawden. It was first published in 1966. It has been dramatised for television twice, firstly with Fiona Kennedy as Perdita (1971) in a four (or possibly five) part BBC mini-series. It was an early example of ‘fantasy’ filming by the BBC. Scenes were filmed in various locations around St Abbs, based on a TV script written by Alistair Bell.

The main character, Perdita, an orphan, supposedly lives on a remote island in the Hebrides. It does not seem to be available on-line or video and I haven’t found any stills. Cast and filming info: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0398611/

Link is a 1986 British horror film starring Elisabeth Shue and Terence Stamp along with a trio of simian stars (Apes, to me and you), which consists of the Link, Imp and Voodoo. The title character, Link, is a super-intelligent yet malicious chimpanzee (played by an orangutan) who lashes out against his masters when they try to have him euthanised.

It was directed by Richard Franklin and written by Everett De Roche from a story by Lee David Zlotoff and Tom Ackermann. The score was provided by Jerry Goldsmith. It was filmed in St Abbs.

Web link to trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rSyfkUQ71Yk

ITV’s Taggart 1996 ‘Dead Man’s Chest’

Local legend has it that when the swashbuckling stars of Taggart finished filming their latest episode, the cry was: “Come on me hearties, let’s have a party.” At the time, the cast feared the piratical tale would be the last before the popular cop series was scuppered.

How wrong they were, for another Taggart film was actually already in the can. Reports at the time inform us that a wild dawn ceilidh went ahead, as the stars and camera crew – convinced that this was their swansong – decided to go out in style. Almost all of the filming of Dead Man’s Chest, a quirky tale based on the classic ‘Treasure Island’, complete with buried treasure and dastardly deeds, was done at night at St Abbs, on the dramatic south-east coast of Scotland. Which meant that as they acted out this ‘yo-ho-ho’ yarn, the cast and crew’s life had been turned upside-down. They started work on the filming around 6 pm and filmed right through until 6am.  A modern take on Long John Silver and Blind Pew!

James Macpherson, who plays Detective Inspector Mike Jardine, said: “After filming we were ready to loosen up with a couple of drinks, even though it was 6am.” I don’t know where they managed to find a couple of guys to play ceilidh music at that hour, but they deserve brownie points for ‘attitude’. It was a very strange situation – the sun was just coming up on a beautiful morning and we were having this wee party. “I remember telling my co-star, Blythe Duff, to remember this moment because it was quite magical.”  Link to Part One of the three-parter: https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x7tt9gh

One More Kiss 2000

This is a romance directed by Vadim Jean who was responsible for ‘Leon the Pig Farmer’. When Sarah (Valerie Edmond) receives life-changing news, she leaves her life in New York behind and returns to her home town in the Scottish-English Borders. Here, she reconnects with her childhood sweetheart Sam, played by heart-throb, Gerard Butler. Shot on location on both sides of the border, in Northumberland and the Scottish Borders, ‘One More Kiss’ features several scenes in Berwick and Burnmouth on the Berwickshire Coast.

A video link which is actually a music promo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B0TRUmKKjVA

Women Talking Dirty 1999; UK release 2001

This film got mightily panned by critics and audiences alike for the excruciatingly bad Scottish accents. But popular with streaming service audiences. The stars are ‘A-listers’, including, Helena Bonham-Carter and Gina McKee. It’s a women’s Romantic-comedy affair, based on the novel by Isla Dewar. It includes some filming from Coldingham Bay and St Abbs.

Link to the trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n0DHui91tV4

Dangerous Liaisons 2003

Josee Dayan, JLA/Hamster Productions – this is a 2003 French mini-series, apparently about 270 minutes in length. It received good reviews, but hard to obtain a copy. I’ve ordered one, but it is taking its time to reach my letter-box.


From online sources it tells us that this TV mini-series of Choderlos de Laclos’ classic 18th century tale of seduction, betrayal and revenge, has been re-located to the modern 1960s world of Parisian high society. Quite a cast list, starring Catherine Deneuve, Rupert Everett, Nastassja Kinski, locations include St Abbs Head, St Abbs village and Coldingham Bay in the Scottish Borders.

And a music video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=denHHkJcSc0&list=PLD6tcwEfy8YlsM2F3XqUq0YZYQMHZVWRR&index=178

Man to Man 2005

Friends of mine in Coldingham, Rod and Sandy, were both extras in this French film. There are lots of shots of local Scots chasing Pygmies through forests and of scenes around Manderston House. Starring Joseph Fiennes and Kristin Scott Thomas, it’s an unsettling film about the ethics and morality (or lack of!) in Victorian exploration and science, where Pygmies were at one time seen as the ‘missing link’, rather than humans. It’s all a bit over-blown but it includes a worthy message directed by Régis Wargnier

Web link to trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rfj0Xda5FZM 


Solomon Kane 2008

A big budget, £40 million. It failed to recoup half of that at the cinema box offices around the world, but went on to top dvd sales and streaming lists. The film world has changed. It was originally planned as part one in a trilogy of films to be made by English-born director, Michael J. Bassett (formerly a female TV presenter MJ Bassett) based on the writings of pulp magazine fiction maestro, Robert E. Howard (his titles included ‘Conan the Barbarian’, also filmed by Bassett). It’s a somewhat weird mix of genres, think Comix-based Gothick Witchcraft Horror meets Indiana Jones, and then throw in Predator and a few zombies.

James Purefoy is excellent as the sword-duelling master of the Dark and the Light. Apparently he did most of his own sword-action and horse-riding stunts. Plenty of rollicking fight scenes, hangings, mutilations and witch-hunts in medieval film-sets reminiscent of Ken Russell’s legendary, ‘The Devils’.  St Abbs Head doubles as the site of Axmouth Castle, an imaginary hereditary home of Solomon Kane’s dynasty, supposedly on the south-west coast of England. St Abbs will forever be used as a film-set for folk diving off the high cliffs – jumping or pushed! Web-link to the trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lalm_kkczVM

Ken Follett’s Eisfieber (Whiteout) 2010

I’ve not seen this. It didn’t get very good reviews.  It’s all about lab tests on rabbits and the escape of the ebola virus. A made for German TV film in two parts, much of it is set and filmed in Scotland. I believe that St Abbs and Coldingham feature as well as Edinburgh. Directed by Peter Keglevic and starring Heiner Lauterbach, Isabella Ferrari, Tom Schilling, Matthias Brandt, Sophie von Kessel, Katharina Wackernagel and Anneke Kim Sarnau. Wikipedia states that the German-Italian prestige production cost seven million euros to make. I cannot locate an English language trailer. Go test your German! https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=10156040689449636

Shades of Love TV series 2010

This is based on the romance writings of Rosamunde Pilcher. It features a Scottish laird’s life and loves. It features Rebecca Night as Laura Aird and Charles Dance as Edmund Aird. St Abbs is the local village near the Aird’s estate (actually Manderston House, over towards Duns). Not really my cup of chai!

Web trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mUBxEPSDG0I 

Ghengiz Khan invades Japan (not the title)

A replica ‘junk’ was around Eyemouth’s harbour for many years until the recent demise of the Maritime Museum. It was apparently used in the BBC film-come-documentary about the Great Khan. I’ve watched it, but cannot spot the boat. I can vouch that’s it not in ‘Genghis’ either, the 2012 Mongol Film Group production.


Railway Man 2013


Eric Lomax, the author of the autobiography (played admirably by Colin firth in the film), was a resident of Berwick-upon-Tweed before and after his incarceration in Japanese labour camps in Burma and Thailand. It’s a powerful story of tenacity and hope. And very much about forgiveness and reconciliation. An Australian-British production. Well-made, poignant, and at times heart-rending. Quite a lot of filming took place in and around Berwick, especially of the famous Stephenson Bridge. Nicole Kidman plays the wife who supports Eric Lomax through his nightmares. Directed by Jonathan Teplitzky, who has since made the film, ‘Churchill’.  

Web link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=px04904hm88

Whisky Galore 2016

The film is the second adaptation of a book by Compton MacKenzie, whose story was inspired by the sinking of the cargo ship SS Politician off Eriskay in 1941. The cargo included more than 250,000 bottles of whisky, and hundreds of cases of which were hidden by islanders. Lovers of the original film may have their collective noses out of kilter, but it is hard not to like this film, especially if you like to see Scottish locations. The remake stars Eddie Izzard.

Tourism body VisitScotland created a map of the filming locations. St Abbs Head was used in three scenes: Waggett (Izzard) drives with Dolly; Waggett drives to the cave, and the islanders drive to rescue the whisky.

On the web, a rather nice trailer for film made for the drink, whisky across Scotland: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GI0n5Y8l6X0


Vera, ‘Parent not expected’ episode for TV series 10 broadcast in 2019/20

I’ve not seen this, but the village of Burnmouth was closed for quite a few days while the shoot took place.

It’s described by the ITV as: Episode 2 – The body of 19-year-old apprentice electrician Dennis Bayliss is discovered, washed up on the shore of a north Northumberland rural estate.

Link to the ITV hub: https://www.itv.com/hub/vera/1a7314a0042

Outlaw King, made for Netflix, released 2020

This is sometimes confused with Richard Gray’s ‘Robert the Bruce’ starring Angus MacFadyn. It is definitely a different movie.  I was around Bridge Street in Berwick-upon-Tweed during some of the filming. Old Bridge was used and the Quay. Unfortunately, my own photos are on a different computer drive – which I cannot access during lock-down! And the film has not been released on dvd as yet. Looks quite good. Web trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wHpO9AG_dkE

Avengers: Endgame 2019

A major block-buster of a film. In fact, it is currently the fifth-highest grossing film worldwide of all-time at 2.8 billion dollars! Wikipedia tells us it: “…is a 2019 American superhero film based on the Marvel Comics superhero team the Avengers. Produced by Marvel Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, it is the direct sequel to Avengers: Infinity War (2018).”

Lots of CGI is in evidence, but St Abbs became the basis of New Asgard in Norway, and ever since the release of the film and despite the Covid pandemic, it has acted as a magnet for tourists, who keep on stealing, or attempting to steal, the new village sign! Such is power of attraction of super heroes, including those played in the film by Robert Downey junior, Scarlett Johansson and Chris Evans. I’ve not seen it…

Weblink to the official trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TcMBFSGVi1c

Bay of Silence 2020

A European mash-up mix of horror and mystery in this film where St Abbs and Lower Burnmouth become Normandy! It’s a bit messy with hint of Euro-glitz added to gothick horror. It involves a story-line of child abuse, sexual exploitation, photography and madness. Watchable and at times confusing. Brian Cox is the actor who is most familiar to UK viewers.

Official trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F7mVOJrl1z4r:










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