Next Balamory? Edinburgh BBC TV series for kids

Gemma Jones as Great Aunt Lizzie with Elliot (Roddy Gilkison) and Charlotte (Evie Brassington). Picture: Plum Films
Gemma Jones as Great Aunt Lizzie with Elliot (Roddy Gilkison) and Charlotte (Evie Brassington). Picture: Plum Films
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A MAJOR new children’s television series is being filmed in the Capital – and has been tipped as the Lothians’ answer to Balamory.

Shooting is under way on the 25-part BBC show Teacup Travels in Princes Street Gardens and Musselburgh.

Each 15-minute story revolves around the fictional adventures of Great Aunt Lizzie – played by Gemma Jones, who starred as Madame Pomfrey in the Harry Potter films – as she tells seven-year-old Charlotte and nine-year-old Elliot of her travels through history.

Replicas of 25 real museum artefacts from the Roman Empire, Ancient Egypt, Iron Age Briton and Imperial China have also been created for the show.

City schoolgirl Evie Brassington will play Charlotte, alongside Roddy Gilkison, from Glasgow, as Elliot.

The programme is the brainchild of Capital-born writer Tony Bibby, who was inspired by stories told by his own Great Aunt Lizzie, which he later shared with his ­children.

Leith-based Plum Films is working to bring the bedtime tales to the small screen on the children’s channel CBeebies.

Mr Bibby said: “It’s wonderful to see an idea which started simply as bedtime stories for my children, Elliot and Charlotte, being turned into something quite magical and exciting for other children. Great Aunt Lizzie would have loved this. Her home was full of wonders and every ­ornament – or treasure as she called it – that she collected had a story.”

The new show could follow in the footsteps of the TV programme Balamory, which sparked a tourism boom in the Isle of Mull town of Tobermory where it is filmed.

A total of 254 episodes were filmed between 2002 and 2005 as visitor numbers shot up to 160,000 a year after parents were persuaded to make the pilgrimage to see the brightly painted homes which house the stars of the show.

Graham Birse, director of Edinburgh Napier University Business School, hopes Great Aunt Lizzie will prompt a simliar reaction.

He said: “A lot depends on the response it gets, but we can see from the evidence of previous children’s programmes, that once it gathers momentum it’s unstoppable.

“You can see this happened with Mull and Balamory and in terms of branding like Hello Kitty or Peppa Pig, both of which are hard to avoid even if you don’t have any kids.”

City Centre SNP councillor Alasdair Rankin added: “If they can work the floral clock into the story, so much the better.”