Stornowegian merchandising opportunities in film and telly

13 04 2010

Doctor Who fever has hit the nation once again. As Stornowegian kids once more hide behind the peatstack as the latest nasty alien attacks earth, a great deal of attention has been brought on the Doctor’s attire. His Harris Tweed jacket has caught the imagination of fashionistas everywhere and it is predicted that Haggas will sell a further two jackets on the back of all this publicity.

But the Doctor’s jacket is not the first bit of Hebridean ‘product placement’ to have appeared on our screens over the last few decades.

In the first series of ‘Auf Wiedersehen Pet’ all of the building tools used by the actors were nicked from Seaforth Builders yard on Rigs Road. The series was actually filmed in the Cearns and not in Germany.

In the pilot episode of Dallas, the producers originally wanted JR Ewing to wear a black church hat, as worn by Church Elders everywhere. One was purchased from MacKenzie and MacSweens shop on Cromwell Street and plonked on JR’s head. However, following the first screen-test, the church hat was considered to be a better actor than Larry Hagman and so was unceremoniously dropped after Mr Hagman’s Agent complained. The church hat was replaced by a Stetson. Coincidently, Stetsons’ became the hat of choice for Church Elders for several years after this.

In the pilot episode of Inspector Morse, he used to listen to tapes by The Lochies as he drove around Oxford in his Jaguar. However, The Lochies were replaced by various opera coves, as the Producers felt that The Lochies were too highbrow for the masses.

In Last Tango In Paris, Marlon Brando’s drarsh were supplied by Lewis Crofters.

The famous Alien from the sci-fi films was designed by conceptual artist HR Geiger, who took his inspiration from a dead guga he encountered whilst painting the Butt of Lewis Lighthouse as a young man. Film fans will recall that the Alien’s blood was acid and deadly to humankind, in much the same way as a guga’s blood is.

In ‘Gone With The Wind’, the actual wind was brought over to Hollywood from Tiumpan Head. Scarlet O’Hara was originally going to be called Scarlet Oh Hearna.

The leather bondage gear featured in Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s ‘Relax’ video was made in the back shop of Smiths Shoe Shop, from leftover ‘Arnish Boots’.

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Dr Who

16 10 2009

Fans of the popular tv series Dr Who will be surprised to learn of the close connections that the Time Lord has with the Isle of Lewis. William Hartnell, the first Dr Who, was a keen fisherman and spent many years tramping the moors of Lewis in search of trout and salmon. He was also regularly up in front of the Sheriff for partaking in nocturnal poaching activities.

When the second series of Dr Who was in production, Hartnell demanded that some of the filming should take place on Lewis to allow him to partake in his favourite pastime. As most Dr Who episodes requiring outdoor shots were filmed in old sandpits and quarries, the producers, in an effort to keep their star happy, were willing to search Lewis for a suitable quarry. Consequently, many episodes of Dr Who were shot in the Marybank Quarry throughout the sixties and seventies. The village of Garyvard also doubled as an alien planet on several occasions as it didn’t require any special effects whatsoever to recreate a hostile environment.

A number of mid sixties episodes of Dr Who filmed on Lewis fell foul of the BBC ‘clear out the cupboards’ policy. Among those episodes lost were ‘Attack of the Gugamen’. This was filmed entirely on location on Sulasgeir. The storyline revolved around the second Dr and his companions landing by Tardis on a barren island and been attacked by a fierce tribe of savages who worship a strange seabird/rat deity. The BBC film crew and actors accompanied the Neisochs out to Sulasgeir and spent a fortnight plucking guga in between filming location shots. The actual Tardis used on location for these episodes is still on Sulasgeir, as the Neissochs refused to take it back on the fishing boat as it would limit the number of guga they could take back to Lewis. The Tardis is now used as a lighthouse run entirely on guga oil.

Another episode filmed on Lewis and now lost/destroyed was ‘Exodus of the Daleks’. This was from the Jon Pertwee era and was the first Dr Who episode to feature the prototype K-9, the Dr’s robotic dog. The storyline revolved around the Daleks being cleared from their crofts by an unscrupulous landlord and forced to emigrate to America. These episodes featured the Daleks draped in tartan and talking in a robotic form of Gaelic. ‘Tha mi exterminate’ as they said. The prototype K-9 was also a metallic sheep dog who came to an unfortunate end when he fell into a sheep-dip and rusted.