Directed by James Henderson, starring James Cosmo, Oliver Golding, Gina McKee, Sean Pertwee, Greg Wise, Ardal O'Hanlon, Thomas Lockyer and Christopher Lee.

James Henderson directs and co-writes this version of the true story of the little terrier that could.

Many will remember with fondness the 1961 production 'Greyfriars Bobby: The True Story of a Dog'. There is a lot of debate surrounding the story, as legend has long been intertwined with fact. Henderson claims he has remained pretty faithful to newspaper reports of the 1800s, with quite a few of the characters based on real people.

The basic premise is more or less the same as the previous production in that a terrier by the name of Bobby loses his owner to ill health. In this case his owner is an Edinburgh-based constable by the name of John Gray (Lockyer). A small boy called Ewan (Golding) keeps his promise to Gray to bring Bobby on regular walks up the mountains.

After Gray's death, Bobby refuses to be owned by anyone else, preferring to stand guard over his master's grave. Church law forbids the presence of dogs on consecrated ground but the sexton of Greyfriars Graveyard, James Brown (Cosmo), cannot keep the wee fellow from continually sneaking his way back to his master's side.

Bobby's existence is eventually threatened when a law is introduced that orders that all stray dogs in the city should be put to sleep.

The accomplished cast assembled ensures a smooth passage through the tale. James Cosmo is his usual steady self, while Christopher Lee brings an unquestionable authority to the role of the Lord Provost. Our own Ardal O'Hanlon would perhaps be the only questionable choice. Even dressed as an illegally trading hobo, he struggles to step out of the shadows of his role as Dougal in the 1990s sitcom 'Fr Ted'. His character, named Coconut Tam, just about works, though it looks decidedly dodgy at times.
It's often said that actors should never work with children or animals. 11-year-old Oliver Golding dispels the myth regarding youngsters with a magical performance as Ewan. Golding, from Wimbledon in London, masters the Scottish tongue, modelling his accent on that of an old teacher and glimpses of ex-footballer Ally McCoist on the BBC's 'A Question of Sport'.

The four-footed star of the movie provides another Irish link. Bobby, a West Highland Terrier, is the family pet of one of the founding members of The Boomtown Rats and animal trainer, Gerry Cott. The cute canine is amazing.

Though failing to match the charm of the 1960s classic, this latest attempt provides wholesome family entertainment underpinned by an unobtrusive social commentary on those hard times.

Séamus Leonard