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Leading article: Home movies

A report that buyers of second homes abroad are guided in their purchases by blockbuster films or television series will bring contemptuous smiles to the faces of those who count themselves immune to such propaganda.

Don't these saps realise, they reason, that producers cannot resist portraying films set in Europe in the crudest colours; that France is invariably a cue for berets, cobbles, bakeries and flirtatious women, while Italian films have to feature nuns, pasta, men crying mama mia and gondolas?

But who is being foolish here? Television and cinema images have arguably become the principal source of information for many people who no longer have much contact with the printed word, while film images may often be no more fanciful than the descriptions of second homes contained in property brochures and columns.

Then again, if the choice of one's first home is left to the head, surely it is right that the choice of a second home should be left to the heart, which is where Amelie, Captain Corelli's Mandolin and Ballykissangel come in.

It's hard to measure the effect of films on house purchases in Provence, Tuscany and the Greek Islands with much accuracy in any case. They have always been popular, at least since the days of the Grand Tour.

A direct link between watching films and buying second homes will only be proven when a Hollywood blockbuster or BBC bodice-ripper is set in glorious scenery in Kazakhstan, or Ukraine, and sparks a rush on property in Almaty or Odessa.