Alison Jones meets some of the two-legged stars of Greyfriars Bobby...
You wait years for a shaggy dog story and two arrive at once.
Hot on the paws of Lassie coming home there comes the return of Greyfriars Bobby.
It has been four decades since the tale of canine loyalty - of a dog so devoted to his police constable master that when he died of tuberculosis the little Skye terrier kept vigil over his grave for the next 14 years - was let out for walkies.
This story has been married to the theme of social deprivation with Bobby's faithful nature and cheeky charm inspiring a people's revolution.
It is not entirely inappropriate as the real Greyfriars Bobby was adopted - after a fashion - by Sir William Chambers, the Lord Provost of Edinburgh, who paid for his licence.
Sir William, as well as being the co-founder of the Chambers Dictionary, was a noted philanthropist and social do-gooder He is played by Christopher Lee as a distinguished gentleman with a keen sense of fair play and a fondness for dogs - a refreshing change from the many dark villains he has played of late, including Count Dooku in the Star Wars prequels and Saruman in Lord of the Rings.
His venerable presence provided a bench mark for the villain of this particular piece, Sean Pertwee, as the vain mill owner Duncan Smithee, who sees Bobby as his personal nemesis.
"I did have the collywobbles on the first night, which I normally do on any film, but when you are working with the likes of Christopher, Ian Richardson and Ronald Pickup. . .
"I thought it's like one of those actor's nightmares where you think that someone is going to stand up and say 'I knew it. I knew you couldn't do it'."
Ironically Sean found the depth to his character by embracing his shallowness.
"Smithee doesn't really realise he is evil. He is someone who has basically inherited something and has a 'where there's muck there's brass' kind of attitude.
"He's a serial womaniser and one of the reason's he has this relation-ship with Ronald Pickup's character, who helps to run the orphanage, is that he has probably sired half the kids that are there. He is not both-ered about change, he'll do anything for an easy life. He is just rather pathetic. He thinks he is a dandy. He's rather sad. . .and camp according to the director, which I found rather alarming."
Sean's late father Jon, star of Worzel Gummidge and Doctor Who, raised his son on an imaginatively fertile diet of just such children's tales.
"I was brought up on a staple of Hillaire Belloc's Cautionary Tales and weirdly enough Greyfriars Bobby (the legend was turned into a much loved novel by American writer Eleanor Atkinson).
"My son is four so he is a wee bit young for that but it really meant something to me because I miss my father an awful lot at the moment, especially watching my child grow up, so it was a nice rounding."
An appreciation for a good yarn is not the only thing young Freddy Pertewee seems to be inheriting.
"He actually said in his story class after he hadn't done some work "I don't have to. I want to be an actor'," laughs Sean.
Greg Wise, normally to be seen being dastardly and dashing, said he embraced the part of the social reforming vicar in whose church yard Bobby takes up residence.
"Just about everything I do I murder someone, get murdered or get my bum out," he grins.
"Doing this and Emma doing Nanny McPhee means that our little girl Gaia can see both mum and dad at the cinema."
Although Greg and Emma (Thompson) met on the set of Sense and Sensibility there is little chance Gaia will see them united on screen together.
"I think it's very important to have separate things to do. It can be very hard that I am known as Mr Thompson and I prefer to try and plough my own furrow," he says cautiously.
"If something were to come along that we thought would be great to do then I am sure we would do it together.
"But Emma was married before (to actor Kenneth Branagh) and worked with her husband quite a bit and I think that can be difficult."
Greg had a slightly more intimate connection to the story of Greyfriars Bobby than the rest of the cast.
He attended university in Edinburgh and spent most of his time at a student theatre opposite Greyfriars churchyard.
"It's a terrible thing to say though in the three years I was there I never once went into the churchyard or into the church.
"I rectified that and went and met the minister and talked to him and saw the grave. He gave me a booklet on the man I am playing. He was actually a phenomenal man."
Though he was born in Newcastle and studied in Scotland, Greg's working accent is usually that of slightly upper-class English.
"I'd spent six years plus in Scotland but never attempted a Scots accent before. The most terrifying thing I've ever had to do was stand up and give a sermon in front of a church full of Scottish extras.
"They didn't throw anything at me so I think it was all right."
Both men were content to have the limelight stolen from them by the true stars of the movie, the dogs playing Bobby, who were trained by ex-Boomtown Rat Gerry Cott
Director John Henderson agreed that the animals were as easy to work with as two-legged stars
"We used two dogs throughout, charismatically titled Bobby One and Bobby Two and they were in training for this for just under four years
"We did actually get up to six Bobbies, in various forms. The last was an animatronic dog that only lasted 12 seconds. You see it for about one second in the film. It was then washed out to sea, and is at present nestling against some oil rig.
"Gerry Cott is wonderful with animals, the best I've ever come across. It got to a state where I'd say to Gerry, "I want (the dog) to run 200 yards flat out down this hill, I want it to turn, stop, put its paws up on the gates of the graveyard."
He'd go 'Right ho'. The dog would do it. And I'd say, 'Ah no, that's one railing over too many!'"
* The Adventures of Greyfriars Bobby is on general release