Festive Scottish novels, movies, songs and television shows


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It has been an old tradition to use a red felt-tip pen to circle the must-see Christmas shows on TV. How else do you mark the season, though? Here are some festive ideas on video, on the page and in song for enjoying the best of Scotland.

Doctor Who Who

There have been strong Scottish references to several Doctor Who adventures. Not least with three Scottish-born doctors, including Karen Gillan as Amy Pond and Michelle Gomez as Missy, and unforgettable characters including Sylvester McCoy, David Tennant and Peter Capaldi.

Maureen Beattie – daughter of the late comedian and entertainer Johnny Beattie – was featured as a scientist at the North Pole alongside Capaldi in a 2014 episode titled Last Christmas. Revolution of the Daleks, the Christmas-themed episode this year, will see John Barrowman reprise his role as Captain Jack Harkness.

The Switch for Princess: Switched Again

Vanessa Hudgens plays Stacy, a Chicago baker who travels to the fictional European country of Belgravia, in the original Netflix film, The Princess Switch, where she meets Lady Margaret Delacourt, Duchess of Montenaro (also Hudgens), who is her double, and they switch places.

A similar premise follows the latest sequel, The Princess Switch: Flipped Again, but with a sly third double in the mix (that’s three Vanessa Hudgens for the price of one).

10 Amazing Christmas-themed Scottish novels, movies, TV shows and songs (Part 1).

Earlier this year, against the background of Glasgow Cathedral, Hopetoun House near South Queensferry, Edinburgh Gateway train station, the capital’s Parliament Square and Mimi’s Bakehouse in Leith, the glittering Christmas film was filmed in Scotland.

Vanessa Hudgens: Switched Again in The Princess Turn. Picture: Netflix

For Christmas, A Palace.

A Castle For Christmas is another Netflix film that uses Scottish settings and architecture. Starring Brooke Shields, identified from Blue Lagoon and Unexpectedly Susan, it’s about an American writer who’s going to buy a castle in Scotland.

Known for his roles in The Princess Bride and Ella Enchanted, Cary Elwes plays a Duke and the owner of the castle who is unwilling to sell. Mary Lambert, who previously directed the supernatural horror film Pet Sematary and the teen thriller The In Crowd, is directing the film.

Dalmeny House and Farm, near Edinburgh, and the Drimsynie Estate Holiday Village on Loch Goil in Argyll were the filming sites. This fall, shooting took place, and a theatrical release date has not been announced yet.

Abbey Downton

The Crawley family swapped Downton Abbey for Duneagle Castle in the 2012 Christmas special of the BBC historical drama. At Inveraray Castle – the real-life ancestral home of the Duke of Argyll – the fictional estate of the Marquess and Marchioness of Flintshire was filmed.

Our guide to the 50 best books to give as gifts for Christmas

The episode featured lake picnics, hunting trips, and a spectacular Ghillies Ball, although the Crawleys and their hosts soon encountered tensions. The screenplay was by Julian Fellowes, and Hugh Bonneville, Michelle Dockery and Dame Maggie Smith were among the cast.

The ad for Irn Bru Snowman.

Paying homage to the classic Christmas movie The Snowman, the film features a boy in pajamas and his eponymous friend floating over dreamlike scenes of Scottish landscapes in the popular Irn Bru commercial that premiered in 2006.

Everything goes wrong when the boy refuses to share his Irn-Bru and lands from a great height in George Square in Glasgow, while his former friend flies away with a stolen can of the amber nectar.

A sequel about the boy’s attempts to get his Irn-Bru back was filmed in 2018. He jumps into a propeller plane and chases over landmarks like the SSE Hydro, the Kelpies, Forth Bridges, V&A Dundee and the Edinburgh skyline.

The 2018 sequel to The Snowman, the Irn Bru commercial.

In a delicious twist, just when it looks like the Irn-Bru is finally going to be snatched back, Santa comes down on a sleigh and steals it – leaving both the boy and the snowman furious. With amusingly altered lyrics, both advertisements are set to the tune of Walking In The Air.

The Snowman originated as a picture book by Raymond Briggs in 1978 and was later adapted as a Channel 4 film, first shown on Boxing Day 1982.

The Misadventures of John Nicholson: A Christmas Story by Robert Louis Stevenson


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