THE RAIN poured and the clouds hung low .... but on Holy Island, the stars were clearly visible.
Enter, causeway right, Hollywood actress and actor Nicole Kidman and Colin Firth, who spent a damp and shivering hour on the windswept Lindisfarne causeway yesterday filming a scene for their forthcoming $26m-dollar movie.
The Hollywood hotshots are playing lead roles in The Railway Man, the story of 92-year-old Berwick war veteran Eric Lomax, who was captured in the fall of Singapore, worked on the Thailand-Burma “death railway” and has lived to today to see the tale told.
Mr Lomax confronted his Japanese captors after the war, and in 2007 received a personal apology for his prisoner-of-war treatment from the 70-year-old son of Japanese Captain Matsuo Komai, who was hanged as a war criminal.
The Bridge on the River Kwai famously told the story of the PoW-built railway and now The Railway Man follows in its footsteps. While the sweep of the action covers Asia, Australia and even Scotland, north Northumberland also takes its proud place in the line-up.
Yesterday the normal peace of Holy island was gently disturbed by teams of cameramen, engineers – and Ms K and Mr F.
“They certainly picked the wrong day for weather, though,” said Lindisfarne Hotel owner Sean Atkinson. “They were out there with heavy raincoats, hoods up, umbrellas, the lot – it was chucking it down. We had the director, Jonathan Teplitzky, staying with us and they were filming down by the rescue hut on the causeway, wrapped up like Nanook of the North.”
Janice Hnat, at the Ship Inn, had a camera crew staying overnight.
“And they got up at 4.30am to go and film the sunrise,” she said. “But there was only thick cloud and rain. So they came back without their sunrise.
“It’s all caused a bit of a buzz on the island, and people here knew of it in advance, though I don’t think it’s been general knowledge on the mainland.”
While a policeman guarded each end of the causeway to stop modern-day motors spoiling the vintage cars on view, Briton Firth and Aussie actress Kidman acted a scene in the famous rescue hut which offers dry salvation to those caught out by the rising tide.
They faced each other before Firth jumped down and ran off with Kidman, who plays Mr Lomax’s wife Patti, calling “Eric! Eric!” in his wake.
So where did the famous duo stay while filming? “At Marshall Meadows,” suggested one islander.
But Robert Hester, manager of the exclusive country house hotel near Berwick, said: “Not so ... though I do wish they had been here.
“We’ve got 12 of the film crew, but no Kidman or Firth on our register.”