IT’S the kind of loss that would drive Gollum to despair.

Scotland has lost out on the chance to host the lucrative filming of the big budget TV prequel to fantasy epic The Lord of the Rings thanks to Brexit, according to reports.

The country was in the frame to become the primary location for the Amazon project, with production expected to begin at a new facility in Leith as soon as next month.

But now reports from New Zealand say that country, which featured heavily in the movie versions of JRR Tolkien’s much-loved series, will reprise its role for the small screen.

The New Zealand Herald says the £1.19 billion project will start work there this month, with a “huge” part made at studios in Auckland.

Public-service radio broadcaster Radio New Zealand also claimed that “the tumultuous Brexit situation hindered Scotland’s pitch”.

Yesterday public body Screen Scotland refused to comment about the big money project, instead saying only: “Screen Scotland provides a confidential locations service to film and TV productions looking to film in Scotland. This means we are unable to comment on discussions about specific productions.”

However, it said drama production is a “thriving growth industry,” adding: “The Scottish Government has recently emphasised this by strengthening its commitment through significant increased resources and the establishment of Screen Scotland.

“We are continuing to work with the Government, industry, BFI and European partners to support the best possible outcomes for the screen industries which will enable us to sustain our close working relationship with EU countries and maintain Scotland’s highly competitive status as an attractive destination for international inward investment.

“In the ongoing Brexit negotiations, the UK Government have demonstrated their ongoing support of the screen sector, confirming the UK creative sector tax reliefs - which are a huge driver for attracting international productions to the UK - will remain in place after leaving the EU.”

The Lord of the Rings project is set to be the most expensive TV series ever made.

Its name has not yet been revealed but it is understood that it will be a prequel to The Fellowship of the Ring, which was first published in 1954.

It is understood that New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern played a key part in securing the production through a 30-minute phone call with Amazon boss Jeff Bezos in May.

However, her team said the two had spoken only about the Christchurch terror attack.

David Parker, who serves as Economic Development Minister, also met with figures from Amazon Studios, New Line Cinemas and the New Zealand Film Commission in late 2018.

According to the New Zealand Herald, TV bosses wanted to know the country was safe for foreign crews. The paper said a film insider told it: “This, being the largest television production in the world, is an incredible opportunity for New Zealand to basically become Middle Earth forever.

“This is it, this is the defining movement. New Zealand, love it or not, is going to be Middle Earth.

“Amazon has a huge subscriber base globally so you couldn’t calculate the amount of exposure it’ll get and what it will do to our tourism industry. Whether or not we need those tourists is another question. It’ll absolutely cement New Zealand as a tourist destination.”