Writer reveals how ideas for his hit show started in library
first time, with Iceland having previously stood in.
Longyearbyen is a unique community where every resident has to be self-sufficient, with no welfare system to back them up, and nobody is allowed to die or give birth.
Depicting such an exceptional community as being mad, bad and dangerous to live in has provoked a mixed reaction from some.
He said: “The first time I was there, we set up meetings with the chief of police, scientists, doctors in the hospital, some miners and lots of people in the pub and just picked their brains and asked them questions.
“We had no idea ourselves at that point that the story would include parasitical prehistorical wasps driving people to demented, murderous behaviour.
“They were happy to tell us stuff and some key things went into the story – that you are not allowed to be born there and not allowed to die there. It’s such a stark declaration of otherness about a place.
“Pregnant women have to leave something like six months before to give birth on the mainland because they don’t have facilities for natal care. That’s become the rule of this place and it sets apart so much.
“There’s no unemployment because there’s no safety net and they don’t want one.
“We had people who were right into it and loved the idea that we were back. But there was a small splinter, mainly the local newspaper editor, who took against us.
“He had talked to us quite a lot. Then he saw the first season and he seemed to think we were rubbishing these people because it was a horror story. He didn’t like that so he reviewed the show every week in the local
“Everyone else was mummified in huge coats and balaclavas. And Dennis was topless. He’s in his 60s and he’s more ripped than his stuntman. He’s very funny, a really good actor and he was totally committed.”
Former actor Simon, who appeared in shows including Taggart and Rab C Nesbitt, was roped in for a cameo role playing a camp manager but he had already contributed to co-star Quaid’s look for his character.
He said: “The first day we were on set, I had this not very successful haircut from a barber. It was too short round the sides and sticky up all over the head.
“Then I heard Dennis talking to the hair and make-up team, saying, ‘Can I get my hair done like the writer guy?’ He’s playing a crab fisherman and didn’t want something too successful, too pampered, so he decided this rubbish haircut I got was perfect.”
The current four- part series of Fortitude will be the last. Simon added: “It’s been five-and-a-half years from the first pitch, then going out to the Arctic where the whole idea gestated and from then what a colossal adventure putting together a show like this. And 27 TV hours later, it’s all coming to a dramatic conclusion. It’s been such a life-changing endeavour.”
WILDMAN TROUBLE AHEAD The fictional town of Fortitude in the acclaimed drama, set in Longyearbyen
FOND MEMORIES Simon says the staff at Wishaw library helped develop his imagination