The iconic red telephone box featured in Bill Forsyth’s 1983 comedy Local Hero was just a prop: the tiny town of Pennan in Aberdeenshire didn’t actually have a phone box.
There’s nothing unusual about that, but in this case, life soon followed art as film fans and tourists lobbied BT to install one. And so they did, although in a slightly less dramatic position than the film’s booth. (See below for a slightly skewed shot of the real box from Google Street View.)
At least BT got their money’s worth: according to aboutaberdeen.com, the phone box is now the most called booth in Scotland, due to tourists calling friends and family and getting them to call back.
The phone box’s iconic status almost came about by chance. The final shot of the phone box was inserted as a result of what director Bill Forsyth called ‘benign studio pressure’ for a more upbeat ending. Forsyth rejected various ideas for reshot final scenes, and finally came up with the idea that’s used; the shot itself was salvaged from the cutting room floor.