SCOTTISH actor James Cosmo has taken up the role of Bard in a one-off performance celebrating the nation’s favourite poem as Burns Night approaches.

The Game of Thrones and Braveheart star has teamed up with VisitScotland to perform a recital of the Robert Burns poem To A Mouse – after it was voted Scotland’s favourite poem survey by the organisation.

It was a close-run contest, with Tam O’Shanter – another Burns classic – being beat out by just one percentage point, receiving 21% of the vote, while To A Mouse received 22%.

The survey, which asked 1000 Scots to vote on Scotland’s best poems, found that as many as seven out of the top 10 poems were by Scotland’s national bard, with works by Walter Wingate, Billy Keys and J.K. Annand taking up the remaining spots.

Cat Leaver, head of brand and global marketing at VisitScotland, said: “The words of Robert Burns have touched the hearts and minds of people the world over and Burns Night continues to be a global celebration of Scottish culture.

“Whether it is attending an event, visiting an attraction associated with Burns or hosting your own Burns Night dinner, there are so many ways to honour our national bard.

“This research shows the lasting impression Robert Burns and the wider Scots language has on people right across the country and it’s fantastic to see so many respondents share fond memories of learning these poems.

“They are an important part of our cultural heritage and one of the many things that makes Scotland so special.”

The survey also found that nine out of 10 Scots have fond memories of learning Scots poems and songs at school and that they could read and listen to Scots poems and understand what most of the words mean.

Cosmo emphasised the significance of teaching Scots in schools.

He said: “It’s so important that our children still read Burns, and that language that is so rich and vibrant can’t be lost.

“It's way too important. It’s what brings us together; it has a warmth and a beauty about it that can’t be replicated.

“Burns remains with us because he speaks of eternal truths and speaks to the human spirit and soul so clearly that I can’t think of another poet that has done that in such a special way.

“So, keeping Robert Burns and his work alive in the school room is incredibly important.”

To view Cosmo’s recital of To A Mouse, visit: