The hosts of the UK’s most popular film review show have spoken out against plans to turn Banff’s Local Hero pub into flats.
Presenter Simon Mayo and critic Mark Kermode discussed the closure threat after our exclusive coverage was picked up by national media including The Times.
The Ship Inn, on Deveronside, was used for scenes in the fictional Macaskill Arms in the touching 1983 Bill Forsyth comedy drama.
The hidden gem has become something of a mecca for film fans since, who are eager to have a drink at the location of some famous scenes.
But owner George Wood is applying for permission from Aberdeenshire Council to transform the listed building into two flats.
Banff residents are fighting the proposals and actor Denis Lawson announced his backing in an interview with us last week.
The star, who played hotelier Gordon Urquhart in Local Hero, told us he would “definitely support” those trying to save the “lovely bar”.
And now, Kermode and Mayo have offered their thoughts in the podcast version of their hit BBC Radio 5 film review show.
What makes the Ship Inn so special?
Local Hero holds a special place in Mark’s heart.
The super-fan visited the Ship Inn in 2008 to interview Bill Forsyth as part of a 25th anniversary celebration on the Culture Show.
Reflecting on the trip, Mark told listeners that walking into the Banff bar was like “stepping into a movie”.
He said: “I have incredibly fond memories of it, as obviously I love Local Hero.
“When we did the Culture Show thing we went to Pennan to do a screening of the film in the village hall.
“But in the day, I interviewed Bill in the bar in Banff – and it looked shockingly similar to the bar in the film.
“Quite often, you go to a location and it looks nothing like it.”
Banff pub is ‘a historic venue’
Mark added: “I have very very fond memories of it.
“It really is a bit of movie history, Local Hero – everyone would agree – is one of the classic films of the last 50 years.
“It’s one that everybody loves and there are surprisingly few locations if you take out the America stuff.
“It’s a historic venue.”
Simon, who was awarded an MBE for services to radio broadcasting in June, jokingly suggested “a whip round” to purchase the bar from Mr Wood.
But Mark expressed confidence in the locals who are already campaigning for the council to quash the proposal.
The veteran film buff said: “There are moves afoot to save the pub and I can understand why.
“In the visit I made there it was like stepping into a movie.”
The Culture Show segment where Mark visited the bar –
You can listen to the podcast here, and the discussion is near the start of the episode.
Banff residents have cited the venue’s silver screen links as a reason to preserve it, and there are hopes it could gain a new lease of life as a “community-run” pub.
The owners of the Ship Inn have been reluctant to comment on the controversial application.
Scroll back and forth to see the changes for yourself –
Phone box also under threat
Meanwhile, the picturesque red telephone box in Pennan could soon be taken out of service.
The phone box is another landmark associated with Local Hero
A plywood alternative was constructed a few yards away for protagonist Peter Reigert to place calls to his boss Burt Lancaster in the film.
But it is nevertheless a very popular photo opportunity for Local Hero aficionados.
The telecommunications giant said there had been a significant decrease in calls.
The organisation is keen for locals to adopt the boxes for other uses such as mini libraries.
BT told the BBC it had received an application to adopt the Pennan kiosk.
But it will be up to Aberdeenshire Council whether it is retained for its original purpose.
The consultation ends on November 24.