Amazon reveals £50m investment and 750 jobs boom from made-in-Scotland series

Entertainment giant Amazon has revealed it is spending more than £50 million on three new shows being made exclusively in Scotland.

Martin Compston will be starring in Amazon's new supernatural series The Rig.
Martin Compston will be starring in Amazon's new supernatural series The Rig.

Amazon said more than 750 jobs have also been created thanks to three shows – The Rig, Anansi Boys and Good Omens 2 – which have gone into production in the last 12 months.

Around 60 trainees are said to have worked on the three shows, which have been based at new studio facilities in Leith and Bathgate.

The figures underline the huge benefits of attracting “high-end” drama series to Scotland, which has seen demand for studio space soar during the pandemic with many productions choosing to film in the UK.

Neil Gaiman's Amazon series Anansi Boys is currently filming in Scotland.

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    Six series of the Sony-Starz fantasy series Outlander have been made since it went into production in Cumbernauld in 2013, with filming of a seventh due to get underway later this year.

    Filming began around a year ago at the FirstState Studios in Leith on The Rig, a six-part supernatural thriller by writer David McPherson set on a North Sea oil rig, and starring Martin Compston, Emily Hampshire, Iain Glen, Rochenda Sandall, Mark Bonnar, Molly Vevers and Emun Elliott.

    Filming wrapped earlier this month on a second series of Neil Gaiman’s Good Omens, the fantasy comedy starring Michael Sheen and David Tennant, which was based at the former Motorola plant in Bathgate, West Lothian, but has also filmed on location across the country.

    Gaiman and director Douglas Mackinnon have been working on both Good Omens 2 and Anansi Boys, a fantasy series following the two sons of a “trickster god.”

    The Hippodrome Cinema in Bo'ness is among the locations which have been used for the filming of Good Omens 2. Picture: Michael Gillen

    The latter series is currently based at the Leith studio complex operated by director Jason Connery, son of the late James Bond star Sir Sean, and producer Bob Last.

    All three shows will be premiering on the Amazon Prime streaming service.

    Giving evidence to the Scottish Affairs Committee at the House of Commons, Georgia Brown, director of European originals for Amazon Studios, said: "Over the last 12 months we have contributed directly over £50 million into the creative industries.

    “That is across three shows that we are very proud to have shot and been currently shooting up there.

    Bob Last and Jason Connery run the FirstStage Studios in Leith, which have been used for The Rig and Anansi Boys. Picture: Stewart Attwood

    "Within that investment we are very proud we have created over 750 jobs, 60 per cent of those have been Scottish, and we have actually created 60 traineeships directly into those productions.

    “We want to be very curated and we want to really innovate and try to push some boundaries. I think ‘The Rig’ is a great example.

    “I think “The Rig” will prove to the world that shows can go out that are hyperlocal: north of Inverness in a place that people probably will never have heard of with very Scottish accents, very thick accents. I don’t think that’s going to put people off viewing it.

    “It’s a really compelling story. For us, it’s more about having a bespoke approach to each individual programme.”

    The new FirstStage Studios complex in Leith has attracted the Amazon series The Rig and Anansi Boys. Picture: Liam Anderstrem

    Amy McNeese-Mechan, Edinburgh City Council’s culture vice-convener, said: “The economic impact of film studios was anticipated and is welcome to the city, particularly in a period of economic recovery.

    “Local businesses have seen an increase in bookings from high-end TV productions for locations, accommodation, transport, catering and construction, and as we grow our local workforce we anticipate increased employment of local production personnel.”