NEWS RELEASE: What’s the story, Katie Morag?

NEWS RELEASE from VISITSCOTLAND, Thursday 16 October, 2014

VisitScotland believes the popularity of hit children’s TV show Katie Morag will boost visitor numbers on Lewis, emulating the ’Balamory effect’ created on Mull.

The national tourism organisation is already aware of young fans of the Katie Morag series and their families who have been inspired to pay a visit to Lewis after seeing it on screen in the popular series.

The second series of the award-winning adaption of the beloved books by Mairi Hedderwick was filmed over the summer. Like the first series, filming took place on Lewis using both studio facilities on the island as well as the backdrop of the beautiful Hebridean landscape. The second series will air on both CBeebies and CBBC in 2015.  This will be the first time ever that the two channels have co-commissioned a series.

In the books, young red-headed heroine Katie Morag lives with her family on the fictional island of Struay and, when producers of the show were looking for an appropriate location to film, the stunning surroundings of Lewis in The Outer Hebrides were a natural fit.  The series replicates all of the beloved locations from the books, including the post office and shop where Katie lives, and Granny Island’s house where many of Katie’s adventures take place.

Ashley Fenwick, her husband Paul and daughter Niamh, aged two and a half, were inspired by Katie Morag when they planned their last holiday.

The family spent a week earlier this summer exploring Lewis and the surrounding areas, staying in the Lewis Longhouse, which has a five star rating from VisitScotlandAshley said: “Niamh is a huge fan of the Katie Morag books and the television series, she even has a doll she carries with her named after Katie! My husband Paul and I have always enjoyed outdoors holidays and we thought Lewis looked incredible on screen so we decided to take a week to explore the area. Niamh was delighted with the holiday, especially when we visited locations from the show such as Katie’s house where we got our photo taken. It was a totally unique family holiday with so many stunning places to see, and we’d absolutely love to go back.”

 Jenni Steele, Film and Creative Industries Manager at VisitScotland said: “It’s no surprise that the wild beauty of the Isle of Lewis is capturing the imagination of Katie’s young fans and their families alike. The Outer Hebrides looks magnificent on screen, and those inspired to visit in real life will certainly not be disappointed when they discover the island offers not just stunning landscapes and amazing wildlife, but a rich and vibrant culture, ideal for those seeking a totally unique holiday experience”

Linda MacLeod Brown, of the Lewis Longhouse said: “As another island redhead, I am delighted that guests choose our Longhouse as a special holiday base to explore Lewis as well as its TV, film and book locations!  Visitors are certainly being inspired to visit the island and, we hope, to come back again and again. We have this house in such a stunning part of the world, and Katie Morag shows off the beautiful Hebridean landscape it sits in, as a natural environment that can be enjoyed whatever the time of year.”

There are 14 books in the Katie Morag series. A number of books in the series have been translated into Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish and Japanese, as well as Scottish Gaelic. The Katie Morag TV series was adapted by production company Move on Up. The first series of Katie Morag won the RTS Scotland Children’s Television Award.  The Outer Hebrides has been a backdrop to other popular TV Shows including Hebrides: Islands on the Edge, narrated by Scottish Hollywood superstar Ewan MacGregor, and BBC fly-on-the-wall documentary An Island Parish which saw an increase in visitors to the islands.

Balamory was filmed in Tobermory on the Isle of Mull. During 2005, 2006 and 2007, the peak years of the show’s popularity, Caledonian MacBrayne reported an increase in passenger numbers of around 15.5%.  According to VisitScotland research, a fifth of all visitors to Scotland are influenced to come to Scotland after seeing it on film or television.