Published: 06:00, 25 August 2020
Whether it be Les Miserables, The Avengers or Wonder Woman, a number of recent big budget movies have had scenes shot in Kent .
But one which could stand out from the crowd as being entirely filmed and - equally as importantly - set in the county is sitting there screaming out to be made.
The legend of ruthless smuggler Dr Syn has long captured the imagination of those on the Romney Marsh , with his fictional exploits embedded into the culture of Dymchurch and its surrounding villages.
Yet further afield, little is known of the excellent swordsman and retired pirate.
Created by author Russel Thorndike in 1915, the character's life is so entwined with real places, and mirror activities of true gangs, that many people are unaware he is a fictitious personality - even Walt Disney, who made a film based on the smuggler, wrongly claimed he was a "real person".
Taking on the role of a kindly and well-liked vicar in the 1770s, Christopher Syn masqueraded as The Scarecrow at night-time with his followers, the Marsh Men.
The anti-hero, who helped his parishioners by using his ill-gotten gains for good, proved a big hit with readers - resulting in Thorndike later writing six prequels before stopping in 1944.
Walt Disney saw the promise of the character and Dr Syn's adventures were adapted into a much-loved 1963 TV series-turned-film with Patrick McGoohan as the lead.
Murmurings of a Disney remake with Johnny Depp gained momentum in the noughties, with the Pirates of the Caribbean star rumoured to become the titular character.
With comparisons to his famous Captain Jack Sparrow role, Depp would seemingly have been considered the number one choice to don the scarecrow disguise.
Those rumours have long remained in the minds of those hoping to see the clergyman-cum-smuggler return to the silver screen, but they have never come to fruition.
However, it is thought Disney scouts made a visit to Dymchurch in 2008 to analyse the location... so there is potentially hope we may see a reboot.
Should they opt to at last produce a big budget remake, the Romney Marsh - with its relatively untouched appearance, misty vistas and imposing skies - could perhaps still provide the perfect 18th century backdrop.
Obviously beach scenes, due to the heavy sea defences, would need to be shot elsewhere. But with a dose of movie magic set design and digital help in erasing the wind turbines and pylons, areas of the marsh could seemingly cater for it.
In the story, the smugglers travel by night on horseback, sometimes using mounts painted with phosphorus to give them a supernatural and spectral appearance. Such a scene shot in the darkness on the marsh would be wonderful to see.
Dr Syn first hit the big screen back in the 1930s in the simply-named Doctor Syn movie, starring Academy Award-winner George Arliss as the lead.
Disney soon bagged the rights to the character and the 1960s saw two rival films - both boasting big-name actors - get released.
In an attempt to avoid copyright issues with the entertainment giant Disney, Hammer Film Productions changed the main character's name to Parson Blyss in their loosely-based version of the tale.
Starring horror film favourite and Whitstable legend Peter Cushing, the movie, titled Captain Clegg, was released in 1962.
Also starring Oliver Reed and hailed by some one as "one of the best Hammer horror films", the movie was known as Night Creatures in the US.
The following year heralded the release of the Disney version, The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh. Or, otherwise known as Dr Syn, alias the Scarecrow.
Originally a three-part television series but now chopped together into one feature-length film, the release is hard to come by for those wanting to get their hands on the DVD.
When released for the inaugural time in the US in 1964, the first episode had one of the most unfortunate airing dates in history.
It was up against the Ed Sulliavan Show episode which included the world famous appearance of The Beatles on February 9.
An eye-watering 73 million people are believed to have tuned in to see the Fab Four's first appearance on American TV - a feat which poor old Dr Syn, or anyone for that matter, could never compete with.
But McGoohan's performance as the borderline villain was well-received, with his cackling laugh - as heard in the memorable opening theme - being etched into the minds of children from the 60s.
Dymchurch was not suitable for filming due to it being a popular tourist hotspot, therefore Old Romney stood in for it, with Camber playing the role of the beach.
St Clement Church in Old Romney, doubling for Dymchurch, was used for filming, with Disney painting the box pews and gallery pink. The oddly-coloured interior is still there to this day.
In return for allowing shoot at the church, the firm delved into its deep pockets and left money for further repairs and renovation.
Just over the East Sussex border, Rye was used extensively along with Rye Harbour and Camber Castle.
Dover Castle was also used in the production.
Back in 2009, Dungeness resident Joe Barnes, recalled the film crew’s visit.
“I remember cycling out to Old Romney, because they altered the church there," he said. "They spent quite a bit.
"I also remember riding to Camber where they did some filming. George Cole was there as well as he was in it, playing Mr Mipps.
“I’ve got photos Patrick McGoohan in his big long coat and I got his autograph. He was good, very amenable.
“It was a big thing when a film was made here, especially then. It was a bit more of a thing than it is now as there are always films being made at Dungeness.”
A series of popular comic books followed the 1963 film, and talk of reviving the character in a sequel with Patrick McGoohan rumbled on into the subsequent decades.
The much-loved production has been re-released by Disney a number of times down the years, including 39,500 sought-after issues as part of the Disney Treasures collection.
And just last October, a Blu ray was released of the original three episodes, before they were condensed into a feature film.
A number of audio adaptations and theatre productions have since followed, but with no film for more than half century, surely Dr Syn deserves another chance to be a commercial hit?
Over the years, the marsh has used its Robin Hood-like legend to good use, with a popular festival celebrating the character being hosted every two years.
The first festival was held in 1964, when the then parish vicar, the Rev Ronald Meredith, wanted to organise a local event to raise money for church funds.
The Day Of Syn has grown into a three-day August bank holiday spectacle including battle reenactments, mock court trials and morris dancing. This year's get-together has been cancelled due to coronavirus.
In a further effort to immortalise the character's legacy on the area, plans for a 160ft scarecrow to be installed on the marsh were thought up about 10 years ago.
Envisaged to boost tourism, a massive Dr Syn replica was proposed to be erected at Haguelands Village in Burmarsh.
Niko Miaoulis, who came up with the idea along with artist Terry Anthony, said: "When you come into Dymchurch the only sign there is says 'welcome to Dymchurch, children's paradise'.
"With a 100ft scarecrow you could see it from 20 miles away in any direction, even from France.
"In fact, in France you wouldn't be able to see the land, just the scarecrow."
The bold project, however, never came to fruition.
An excellent way for the legend of Syn to further make its mark on the marsh would be for movie producers to get into gear and back a reboot.