WITH its quiet beaches and well-manicured fairways, North Berwick seems a universe away from the glamour of Holywood.
But excitement is building in the picturesque East Lothian town ahead of the arrival of two of cinema’s biggest names.
Oscar winners Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman will jet in next month to film scenes for The Railway Man – the story of Edinburgh-born prisoner of war Eric Lomax.
It is the latest A-list movie to be shot in Scotland following Brad Pitt’s zombie film World War Z, Scarlett Johansson’s sci-fi horror Under The Skin, and Skyfall, the new James Bond instalment.
It is understood crews will be filming in North Berwick from May 13-18, and that much of the shoot will take place in Tantallon Terrace. Crews are also expected to head to Port Seton.
John Skillen, 49, manager at the town’s Sweet News newsagent, said: “It will certainly raise the profile of the town. This is a tourism place and a holiday resort so the boost will be good.”
Irene Steel, 52, manager at the County Hotel, said: “This is really good news for North Berwick – it makes the town buzz a wee bit and makes it a bit more exciting. It will really help put the town on the map.”
The subject of the film, Mr Lomax, now 92, served as a British army signals officer during the Second World War and was sent to Japan’s notorious Changi prisoner-of-war camp after his capture in Singapore in 1942.
He was one of thousands of Allied prisoners who endured torture and was forced to work on the construction of the infamous Death Railway between Thailand and Burma.
East Lothian Council said arrangements were being made to accommodate the film’s production crews.
A council spokeswoman said: “I can confirm that the transportation department are liaising with film-makers over footage being shot in North Berwick.
“It is unlikely to involve road closures but there will be suspension of parking during certain hours.”
Any inconvenience the shoot might cause was of no concern to some residents.
Stuart Kerr, 21, a barman at the Glen Golf Club, said: “It’s awesome. It’s not every day you get people like Nicole Kidman coming to North Berwick.”
Hazel Barnes, a Tantallon Terrace resident, added: “It’s very exciting and really nice to have some A-list celebs in town.”
Kathryn Smith, of North Berwick community council, said: “Anything that puts North Berwick on the map will be a good thing.”
Reconciliation after years of hatred
ERIC Lomax was one of thousands sent to the Changi prisoner-of-war camp after the fall of Singapore to Japan in 1942.
During his imprisonment, he and a group of fellow soldiers were beaten to a pulp by their Japanese captors because they had been discovered in possession of a radio.
The beating fuelled an intense hatred in Mr Lomax for Nagase Takashi, the interpreter who had interrogated him.
But the two men are now friends after they met and were reconciled in 1998.
Mr Lomax published his memoir The Railway Man in 1980.