AN ENTERTAINER who owns what is thought to be Scotland’s smallest cinema in Skerries is set to branch out by offering spa and gym facilities in the hope of making the remote island more attractive for locals and visitors.
Chris Harris opened the 20-person screen earlier this year in his Schoolhouse home, complete with seats from an Odeon cinema in Manchester and a popcorn machine.
But the Welshman, who has lived on Skerries for the last year and half and opens his cinema to all at no cost, is now looking to go one further.
He is set to open a spa in his home which includes an eight seat hot tub and sauna, while a renovated portacabin in his garden featuring gym equipment will also be available to the public.
Harris even plans to record virtual reality footage of Skerries so that users of equipment like his cycling machine can exercise while ‘travelling’ around the island.
The entertainer, who is a proficient fire breather and is affectionally known by some as ‘Crazy Chris’, is part of the local development group. He hopes to make the island – which has a population of around 70 – more attractive.
He said he has had groups of tourists in his cinema for private viewings and it has given them something different to do while visiting Shetland’s most easterly island.
“We don’t really have anywhere to go in the evenings,” Harris said. “We don’t have a bar, we don’t have a gym. When it rains, there’s not really much for them to do.
“If I can open up my house to tourists and make them feel welcome, then that’s what I should do.”
Harris has regular screenings in his cinema planned over the coming weeks, including of the Oscar winning La La Land and crime flick Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.
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He offers visitors food and drinks, and it’s all part of his desire to make people have a good time. “The cinema is all part of entertaining for me,” he said.
“People come, I can serve them drinks and food and they feel welcomed.”
The spa, meanwhile, will also feature a bar serving non-alcoholic cocktails, while the portacabin housing the gym equipment is also set to have an upper area including telescopes to gaze out into the stars.
He hopes to launch them with a beach party in the not too distant future.
Harris lived in cities for most of his life before deciding to move to the Isle of Bute, but a year later he saw the Schoolhouse in Skerries up for sale online and quickly snapped it up.
One of his first moves was to create the cinema, which gained attention across the country for its cosy size and rurality.
He said he finds film a perfect way to distract himself from the rigours of daily life.
“I’ve found movies a great source of escapism,” Harris said. “If you’re having a bad day, having a bad week or month, sometimes they can motivate you to think ‘well actually I can go on in life, things aren’t actually that bad’.
“It’s the magic of the movies, as they say.”
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