Hopes for a boost to the Highland Perthshire tourism industry have been turbo-charged after stars of the Grand Tour were spotted filming in the area.
Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond were spotted driving classic American cars – a Cadillac, a Lincoln and a Buick – in the Pitlochry area.
The upcoming series is understood to be following them as they drive from Edinburgh to the Hebrides, though the show’s producer declined to reveal further details.
The trio spent the night at the four-star Atholl Palace hotel, where a source said they and the production team for the Amazon Prime show “had the run of the place”.
The hotel’s general manager, Graeme Strachan, said he hoped the area’s appearance on the show will help revive the local tourism industry, which has been decimated by coronavirus restrictions.
He said: “We were absolutely delighted that they have chosen to come and film here, it’s great for Pitlochry and the surrounding area.
“The three guys were great and an absolute pleasure to meet them all and I am delighted they chose the Atholl Palace and area to come to.
“I’m hopeful we’ll see more people wanting to visit here once the show is screened.
“It will be a massive boost for Highland Perthshire if it leads people to come here.”
The Grand Tour’s executive producer, Andy Wilman, said they had chosen to film in Scotland to avoid potentially being hit by sudden quarantine restrictions if they travelled outside the UK.
He said: “The Grand Tour is not really allowed to go grand touring as we risk a sudden lockdown.
“You’d be crazy to spend time and money planning and then suddenly find there’s someplace you can’t go – it’s much better to get in your cars and go somewhere where you’ve got the best chance of finishing the film.
“We were thinking ‘where is the nearest most beautiful place?’ and that’s Scotland, so we came here. They (Clarkson, May and Hammond) love all parts of Scotland.”
The tourism industry across Scotland was badly hit by an enforced closure, only reopening when lockdown measures were lifted in July.
Among the local casualties of the shut-down was Pitlochry Hydro, which saw its parent company, the Specialist Leisure Group (SLG), go into administration.
It was the second major blow to the town after organisers cancelled this year’s Enchanted Forest event, which generates around £7.6 million for the local economy.
The Grand Tour’s presenters last visited the Pitlochry area in 2013 to film for show’s BBC predecessor show, Top Gear.
Clarkson tore around the picturesque landscape pretending he was in Hertfordshire but failed to fool anyone familiar with the local landscape.
Atholl Palace, Pitlochry High Street and even a Welcome to Pitlochry sign were clearly visible as he carried out his segment on a Ferrari F12.
At the time spokeswoman for the BBC claimed the rebranding of the town was meant “as a joke”.
The Grand Tour is expected to air in the spring.