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On Holy Island with Roman Polanski



I’m off to Lindisfarne or as most people know it, Holy Island, in Northumberland to act out my own version of Cul-de-Sac, the dark comedy by film great Roman Polanski.┬áHoly Island is around an hour and forty minutes’ drive south of Edinburgh, along the beautiful North Sea coast past Berwick-upon-Tweed, through the Scottish border to England and the stunning county of Northumberland.

It’s an eerie place, perfect for surreal reinventions with its wild seas, grey skies and 1000 year-old structure.

Holy Island was used in Polanski’s film and the castle, called Lindisfarne Castle are major ‘characters’ in the film.

Polanski’s film thrilled me when we first saw it many years ago. The story centres around two half-witted gangsters taking hostage the reclusive residents of Lindisfarne Castle as the sun comes up.

The gangsters are clueless about what they are about to encounter: an angry artist who just wants to be left alone, and his beautiful bored French wife who’s just looking for adventure.

Lindisfarne Castle keeps them safe but also offers them up to these two loony criminals on a sacrificial platter as if to test their strength of character and ingenuity.

It takes the husband and wife team a fair few trys to get themselves to safety but not without some hilarious encounters. Lindisfarne Castle’s high-definition scenery and 1000-year old history, wild location and surreal atmosphere makes the perfect film location, and Polanski used Holy Island to perfection.

I have to award Roman Polanski my own honorary film award as tribute to his film-making genius. Cul-de-Sac has always been one of my favourite films. It’s great stomping around this wild and beautiful scenery. Now back to Edinburgh.