THE long-awaited remake of the Ealing Studios classic Whisky Galore! will be filmed in Scotland later this year.

The producers confirmed to The National yesterday that pre-production on the movie is already under way and a major announcement about the cast and crew will take place in the next few weeks.

Based on the novel by Compton Mackenzie, Whisky Galore! was one of the best-loved of all the Ealing Studios films and is considered to be the comedy masterpiece of the great Scottish director Alexander Mackendrick.

The producers are stressing that the new Whisky Galore will be quite different from Mackendrick’s adaptation, and will perhaps be closer to the spirit, if not the letter, of the original novel.

Based on the true story of the wartime wreck of the SS Politician on the island of Eriskay – Mackenzie had a home on nearby Barra – the fictional version sees the people of the Hebridean islands of Great Todday and Little Todday salvage and smuggle a huge cargo of whisky from the SS Cabinet Minister, which is wrecked on their islands.

Locations for the remake have already been identified, but are understandably being kept secret, and it is understood that the cast will include numerous well-known Scottish actors.

The screenplay has been written by Peter McDougall, above, the Bafta and Prix Italia-winning writer who shot to fame with Just Another Saturday 40 years ago. MacDougall first wrote a version of the script more than 10 years ago, but he is understood to have totally re-written a new version of the script into a “brilliant screenplay”, according to one source close to the production.

The director will be Scottish veteran Gillies MacKinnon, perhaps best known for Small Faces and Regeneration. Casting is still ongoing but will be completed in plenty of time for the location filming which is scheduled for late July and August.

Producer Iain Maclean first attempted to film the remake of the classic comedy over a decade ago but the project had to be put on hold. He never gave up on the idea, however, and in the last couple of years he began to look for partners to help make his dream come true.

Now Maclean and co-producer Alan Wands and executive producer Peter Drayne have all the finance in place, with the film entirely funded from private sources.

MacIean said last night: “I can confirm that the film has been green-lit and is due to start filming in July this year in locations throughout Scotland. Pre-production has started and cast will be announced shortly.”

Maclean would not comment on speculation that a major English comedy star has agreed to play the part of Captain Waggett, the Home Guard commander who tries to confiscate the whisky.

In the prospectus for the film, Gillies MacKinnon said: “This is a modern adaptation of the story, not a literal remake of Sandy Mackendrick’s original 1949 classic.

“The style is contemporary, embracing drama, romance and comedy, with an array of colourful characters, providing a platform for a wonderful cast.”

In same the prospectus Maclean wrote: “Sir Compton Mackenzie’s immortal novel of whisky shortage, ship aground with liquid cargo and its theft is told with the humour and indomitable spirit of unique people.

“Why remake the film? Firstly, more evidence is available on the true story of the SS Politician; we have the cinematic talents of a new generation of British actors; and the fact is that it seems folly to have made the film in monochrome when the unmatchable colours of land and sea in the area were available.

“The perennial story of a united community putting itself against officialdom and authority has resonances the world over. It is the purpose of this film to tap into that international sharing and genuinely entertain a world audience with a popular tale that is universal.”

It’s not just the identities of the cast which is being kept secret at present – the identity of the whiskies that will feature in the film is also being closely guarded.