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Scott Begbie: Here’s hoping Silver City shines in movie spotlight

Tetris trailer
Taron Egerton on set during filming for the new film Tetris, at the Zoology Building, Aberdeen. Image: Kath Flannery/DC Thomson.

Lights, camera, action… and isn’t it good to see the north-east getting a starring role on film and TV?

I’m not alone in that view given the obvious – and welcome – excitement around acclaimed director Jon S Baird filming his latest movie in Aberdeen.

There was so much chatter about glimpses of Hollywood star Taron Egerton we almost forgot the Granite City was standing in for grim Soviet Russia.

Gosh, do you think the city planners from the ’60s had the idea of becoming a Hollywood backlot in mind when they sanctioned those unloved concrete carbuncles?

And this was hard on the heels of the Peaky Blinders filming up in Portsoy, an event that made headlines across the UK.

You could almost sense the visceral thrill of Tommy Shelby strutting the icy streets – complete with actor Cillian Murphy having non-slip soles on his shoes courtesy of a local cobbler.

In both cases the locals were a hit with the film-makers, too.

The Peaky producers thanked Portsoy folk for being an “absolute joy”, while Jon S Baird bigged up the friendly welcome from Aberdonians – as well as our tasty pies.

But, more importantly, Baird nailed it when he said he hoped his filming of Tetris would open the doors to other film productions.

And well it should. After all, we have not only a stunning city, but a versatile one, too.

Sure, it can stand in for gloomy Russia, but other areas of the city have stunning potential for film backdrops, from historic Old Aberdeen to cutting edge and futuristic architecture at the likes of Aberdeen University’s Sir Duncan Rice Library.

That’s before we even get on to the fantastic places of Aberdeenshire.

We have form for this, too, from Mel Gibson’s Hamlet being filmed at Dunnottar to the Pennan phone box becoming a Local Hero icon.

As we come out of the coronavirus pandemic, the north-east will be looking at new and innovative ways to get the economy back on its feet.

This follows years of debate about how we are going to thrive and prosper in a post-oil world.

One of the keys to that is developing Aberdeen as a city of culture – a drive that was taking traction before Covid-19 intervened.

But it will pick up again and one of the biggest aspects of modern culture is film and television.

So why not big up our gorgeous region as the next place film-makers want to be?

It worked wonders for Ireland after all – Game of Thrones anyone? (Mind you, Ireland did throw in the incentive of tax breaks for film companies).

Both Tetris and Peaky Blinders show we can not only give producers what they need, but provide a warm welcome for them and their stars when they get here.

It’s a golden opportunity for the Silver City to shine on the silver screen – let’s put the north-east in the spotlight.

My running mojo’s been overtaken by rambling

I think the running gods are trying to tell me something.

My ballot entry for the London Marathon was unceremoniously rejected again. That’s five times now.

At the start of February, I signed up for a virtual running challenge to rack up 50km of scampering during the month.

Then the snow and ice arrived and didn’t disappear – unlike my running mojo. I did get out for 5km on Sunday. Just 45km shy of the target I parted with £10 to meet.

And then on holiday last week, I discovered I rather enjoyed following four and five-mile routes through stunning Aberdeenshire countryside – walking.

I liked the laid-back pace and the chance to eat sandwiches while sitting on a log in a forest or in a castle’s quaint walled garden.

And, to be honest, you can take in much more of the beauty we live in when you are ambling through it, not dashing along keeping an eye on your pace.

Now I am questioning whether this is a sign that with the imminent arrival of my bus pass it is time to morph from being a runner to being a rambler.

I mean, I’ve even bought a flask so I can have a nice cup of tea when we take to the paths again. The only saving grace is it isn’t tartan. That would be a step too far.

For now, I’m going to keep up the scampering … but my next footwear purchase might be a new pair of hiking boots instead of running shoes.

Voters can have their say at ballot box

So convicted sex offender Alan Donnelly plans to defend his seat on Aberdeen City Council at the next election.

He has, of course, every right to do so. Just as he has every right to refuse to resign from the council, despite being found guilty of sexual assault. When his year-long suspension from the council is lifted this Thursday, he will have every right to take part in debates and vote on council matters, despite any concerns over the message that sends about our city.

Of course, voters have every right to reject him at the ballot box.

And it would be right that they do.

This article originally appeared on the Evening Express website. For more information, read about our new combined website.