A Castle for Christmas: Cute, cheesy and filled with tartan cliches

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I’ll start with a confession - I’ll happily lose an entire Saturday afternoon watching those awful Christmas films on Channel5.

I know, they all have the same plot, and, in some cases, the same actors, and were all filmed in Canada, with a backdrop of glorious blue summer skies resulting in fake snow being piled two feet high either side of perfectly swept pavements.

I reckon they knock them out like advent calendars rolling off a production line in mid-July - and much like the mini chocolates within them, one bite and they’re gone.

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In so many ways A Castle For Christmas belongs on Channel5 - not Netflix.

Cary Elwes as Myles and Brooke Shields as Sophie in A Castle For Christmas.Cary Elwes as Myles and Brooke Shields as Sophie in A Castle For Christmas.
Cary Elwes as Myles and Brooke Shields as Sophie in A Castle For Christmas.
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The streaming service which gave us the magnificent Orange Is The New Black, House Of Cards - apart from the mess of al last series - and Homeland has served up a movie set in a Scotland which won’t be recognisable to Scots anywhere.

It’s been hailed as cute, cheesy, charming escapism - and it is.

Oscar winner it most certainly ain’t.


If it’s Scottish cliches you’re after, it doesn’t disappoint.

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A Castle For Christmas re-heats the mythical Scotland for people who actually believe Nessie exists anywhere other than the gift shop for the gullible on the banks of the loch.

It is a world of shortbread and tartan which seems to root Scotland in the 18th century.

Brook Shields plays an author who has to flee America after a backlash over her book - trust me, we’re not talking Satanic Verses here - and opts for Scotland whether her family once worked in service which, clearly, is all we Scots do.

So, she arrives at Edinburgh Airport and meets a taxi driver who clearly had just driven down from Aberdeen judging by the thick layer of ‘fit like’ greetings which requires subtitles for her, and the rest of Scotland.

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He takes her to Dunbar via the Highlands so presumably he skived the day they sat ‘the knowledge.’

The journey has to be the best bit of time travel since Marty McFly and the Doc jumped into the DeLorean - by the time they get there, Dunbar appears to gone back several centuries and become a sleepy hamlet somewhere between those mythical places of Brigadoon and Glendarroch.

She checks in at a hotel which has to have the most tartan I’ve ever seen since I last stayed in Pitlochry.

The pub has its own knitting group which probably explains where the characters came from - all sensible jumpers, brogues and beards.

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Her destination is ‘Dun Dunbar’ where her family once worked and which, whaddayaknow, is handily up for sale.

The posh duke gives her a tour of Dun Dun Dunbar and a crash course in Scottish dialect explaining such terms of endearment as walloper, eejit, numpty and dobber.

I’m no expert on our landed gentry but I’m pretty sure none even know these four words exist.

And so the cliches come tumbling out like crumbs in a shortbread tin as the leading lights fall for each other.

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There’s some ceilidh to demonstrate what Strictly would be like if filmed by BBCScotland - forget the Paso mate let’s see how those celebs handle a Dashing White Sergeant - and they all live happily ever after.

Trust me, that’s nae spoiler!

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