Director Ridley Scott's hopes of filming in the famous MEZQUITA cathedral in Spain have been dashed - after the Catholic Church banned him from using the former mosque.

The Gladiator film-maker asked religious authorities for permission to spend a month in the Cordoba cathedral to shoot scenes for his $97.2 million (GBP54 million) epic Kingdom of Heaven, about the middle ages Crusades.

A church spokesman says, "The 200 people and the false door and walls and all the props would interrupt the religious life of Mezquita for roughly a month, which would be disorderly and excessive."

The church's decision has caused a row with the politicians on the traditionally communist-run city, who believe the film would be beneficial to Cordoba's tourism industry and have appealed to the bishop to change his mind.

CARMEN CALDO, the local culture official, explains, "It seems we are losing a great opportunity and I am surprised the Church will not lend a helping hand."

Scott has reduced his request to asking for just four days of filming, as he prepares to start production on the movie starring Orlando Bloom and LIAM NEESON in Huesca in northern Spain on Monday (19JAN04).

14/01/2004 13:41