House of Cards meets River City in Leith TV drama

Leith is set to take centre stage with its own TV drama, which will also explore the behind the scenes world of Scottish politics Picture; Robert Michael Wilson.
Leith is set to take centre stage with its own TV drama, which will also explore the behind the scenes world of Scottish politics Picture; Robert Michael Wilson.
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It is already regularly cited as one of the coolest parts of the UK, thanks to its fashionable cafés, bars and restaurants.

Now Leith is set to take centre stage with its own TV drama – which will also explore behind the scenes at Holyrood.

Picture; Robert Michael Wilson.

Picture; Robert Michael Wilson.

Cameras started rolling this week on the first instalment of The Shore – which focuses on the lives of ambitious young professionals sharing a luxury flat in Leith’s upmarket waterfront area.

Its makers, who hope to sell the show to Netflix, say it will be far removed from the gritty crime dramas that have been a staple of the schedules in recent years with its depiction of a “vibrant, contemporary, modern-day Scotland”.

The show opens with three university friends – Adam, Jayne and Josh – moving into the converted warehouse apartment ahead of starting new jobs at Holyrood, working for rival MSPs.

But in echoes of US presidential drama House Of Cards, one character already has her sights set on becoming Scotland’s First Minister.

Adam (Callum Kerr) and  Jayne (Rebecca Harrod) both work as assistants to MSPs. Picture; Robert Michael Wilson.

Adam (Callum Kerr) and Jayne (Rebecca Harrod) both work as assistants to MSPs. Picture; Robert Michael Wilson.

The Shore is the first drama to be made by Glasgow-based Solus Productions, which has made a number of factual shows for BBC Scotland, BBC Alba and STV in recent years.

Solus teams producer Jim Webster with director Tony Kearney, who played Scott Wallace in River City and now directs BBC Alba’s drama series Bannan, which is filmed on the Isle of Skye.

The BBC’s Glasgow-set soap River City was originally planned to be set in Leith by writer Stephen Greenhorn, but was instead relocated to a fictional Clydeside district.

However Kearney and Webster say they are drawing inspiration from This Life, the hit 1990s drama about a group of law graduates sharing a flat in London, and Looking, the HBO series about a group of friends who live togethe in San Francisco, which ran for three series from 2014.

Its cast includes former Emmerdale favourite Kelvin Fletcher, who played Andy Sugden in the long-running soap, River City star Jacqueline Leonard and the leading Polish actress Kasia Koleczek. Rab C Nesbitt star Elaine C Smith has a cameo role in the pilot as a Scottish Government minister.

Webster said: “We feel there’s a real lack of representation on television of the vibrant, contemporary side of modern-day Scotland that we know. There’s also not a huge amount of TV drama for the 16-30 age range – that’s the audience we’re aiming for.

“All the main characters in the show live together in Leith. It’s not really a political intrigue drama, it’s unashamedly character-driven and will be about the relationships between them. They’re all up-and-coming young professionals.

“We’ve taken inspiration from a trend in America by making it the way we want to make it and then trying to get someone on board. We want to present it and say: ‘These are the characters and this is what we want to do with them.’ We have a clear vision of what it should be.

“We’ve already storylined a whole series. If it’s a success we could be talking about making 12 episodes a year. We feel it’s got the potential to be very long-running.”

Kearney said: “We’re making it a bit under the radar, but we wanted complete creative control. We could get it up and running into a series very quickly.

“Jim and I have done a lot of filming at Holyrood. We just felt that it must all go on inside there. We’ve been talking about doing it for ages – the time just feels right for it.

“Leith is also just so quirky and beautiful, it’s almost a village within a city.”

It emerged last week that the value of film and television productions to Edinburgh had soared to a record £16.1 million. Major productions to be shot in the city included the American time-travel fantasy series Outlander, the Netflix film Outlaw Kings and the movies Avengers: Infinity War and Mary Queen of Scots.

Rosie Ellison, manager of the Film Edinburgh commission, said: “It’s been a pleasure working with Solus on this shoot and we hope the pilot leads to a successful series.

“Edinburgh is a film-friendly city in recognition of the economic and cultural benefits of filming.

“Around 40 per cent of visitors to the UK want to visit places they’ve seen on the screen, so we welcome opportunities like The Shore which can promote our city to the world.”

THE MAIN CHARACTERS IN THE SHORE

STEVE (KELVIN FLETCHER)

Handsome, clever and kind, yet a bit lonely. Steve goes to the gym five days a week, works in finance and never seems to find Mr Right.

JANET (JACQUELINE LEONARD)

Janet, Steve’s glamourous mum, adores her son and loves visiting from Manchester. She is addicted to spending money.

PADDY (PATRICK O’BRIEN)

Steve’s best friend has a sparkle in his eyes and rugged Irish charm. He runs a

charity café in Leith which helps people who have had to make Scotland their home from

elsewhere, especially women.

SALLY (MIRREN WILSON)

A student nurse who goes out with Paddy, she looks sweet and innocent on the

outside, but has a fiery side underneath. She is a hippy at heart and loves theatre.

ADAM (CALLUM KERR)

Adam has the look of head boy, but was only ever deputy head boy. He has been going out

with Jayne since they were at school. He wishes he could have gone travelling for a while

after Uni, but Jayne wanted to get stuck into parliament life.

JAYNE (REBECCA HARROD)

Jayne is incredibly ambitious and firmly believes one day she will be the First Minister. She loves Adam, but gets frustrated he isn’t as ambitious as she is. She has her professional life all mapped out for herself, year by year.

JOSH (HAREET DEOL)

Josh is a big attraction to many people without even trying. He has an unconventional

appeal and follows his heart into any situation. He is incredibly intelligent but easily

distracted. He is from a very conventional family, but loves his unconventional life in

Edinburgh.