SCOTLAND’S answer to fantasy series Game of Thrones is to finally get a gala UK premiere - in London.
A series of converted Victorian archways in Shoreditch are set to be turned into scenes from the Scottish Highlands for the night for an exclusive “Outlander” launch event.
Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe, the lead actors in the £50 million series, which premiered in the United States last August, have been confirmed for the premiere on 23 March.
It is being held three days before it is made available on Amazon Prime Instant Video, the streaming service which confirmed a deal to show the series last month after months of speculation.
Balfe plays the main protagonist, Claire Randall, a Second World War nurse, who is propelled back in time to the 18th century Highlands, where she falls for a young warrior, Jamie Fraser.
The two stars of the show - set and shot entirely in Scotland - will be taking part in a Q&A session with fans after the screening of the opening episode of the show, which is based on the best-selling novels of American author Diana Gabaldon.
However just 25 pairs of free tickets are being given away to fans for both the London premiere, which will be held at the White Rabbit studios, in Shoreditch. The Q&A will also be streamed live to the Grosvenor cinema, in Glasgow’s West End, which will also have a special screening of the first episode on 23 March.
A spokeswoman for Amazon Prime Instant Video said: “The premiere in London will be an experiential fan-focused event.”
The year-long shooting schedule for the first series of Outlander, the nation’s biggest ever inward investment for a film or TV production, helped deliver a £40 million boom for the screen industry in Scotland.
A vast warehouse complex in Cumbernauld, Lanarkshire, was converted into a temporary studio by US cable channel Starz and entertainment giants Sony, who are behind the show, which will be based there for its entire second season, which is due to go into production in the summer.
Locations across Scotland have also been deployed for Outlander, including Doune Castle near Dunblane, Falkland and Culross in Fife, Blackness Castle in West Lothian, the Highland Folk Museum in Newtonmore, and Pollock Park in Glasgow. Around 200 crew and 2,000 actors have been working on the show.
Mike Cantlay, chairman of national tourism agency VisitScotland, which has created a special locations map for fans to follow in the footsteps of the stars, said: “Outlander has a massive fanbase, particularly in North America, and audiences have been captivated by the TV show’s blend of stunning Scottish scenery, its romance and its history.
“Scotland is the land that inspired Outlander and our locations map has already proved a big hit.
“Furthermore, we are seeing more and more tourism businesses, including accommodation providers and visitor attractions, looking at ways in which they can capitalise on the show.
“Set-jetting is a hugely popular pastime, with 40 per cent of visitors to the UK inspired to come here after seeing a location on film or on television.”
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