A to Z of Out­lander

All you need to know ahead of the new se­ries

The Herald on Sunday - Sunday Herald Life - - Front Page -


Out­lander is set largely in 18th-cen­tury Scot­land – with brief in­ter­ludes in France and Ja­maica – but as se­ries four gets un­der­way, the ac­tion shifts to colo­nial North Carolina. The lat­est in­stal­ment was still filmed on this side of the At­lantic, how­ever, with some early scenes shot last year at Gray Buchanan Park in Pol­mont, which was trans­formed into a grave­yard.

Other lo­ca­tions used in­clude Aber­cairny Es­tates near Cri­eff, Ne­whailes House in Mus­sel­burgh, Beecraigs Coun­try Park near Lin­lith­gow, Cum­ber­nauld Glen, St An­drew’s in the Square in Glas­gow, Aber­corn Church near South Queens­ferry and Calder­glen Coun­try Park in East Kil­bride.


Based on the best­selling books by US author Diana Ga­bal­don, Out­lander charts the ad­ven­tures of for­mer com­bat nurse Claire Fraser (nee Ran­dall) who, dur­ing a sec­ond hon­ey­moon to Scot­land with her hus­band Frank in 1945, is trans­ported back to 1743 through a mys­te­ri­ous set of stand­ing stones.

On the brink of the last Ja­co­bite ris­ing, she meets dash­ing High­lander Jamie Fraser and their pow­er­ful story as star­crossed lovers un­folds.

Ga­bal­don’s de­but Out­lander novel (first pub­lished as Cross Stitch in the UK) hit book­shelves in 1991 and the eight-book se­ries has since sold more than 28 mil­lion copies. There is a ninth, Go Tell The Bees That I Am Gone, in the pipe­line.


Lead­ing lady Claire Fraser is played by Ir­ish ac­tor and for­mer model Caitri­ona Balfe. The time-trav­el­ling Claire is head­strong and forth­right – with a knack for get­ting her­self into trou­ble due to an un­will­ing­ness to sit back and watch in­jus­tice un­fold.

She served as a nurse on the bat­tle­fields of France dur­ing the Sec­ond World War and is an ama­teur botanist – skills which come in handy when nav­i­gat­ing life in the 18th­cen­tury Scot­tish High­lands.

Fun fact: Balfe was cast only days be­fore Out­lander started shoot­ing in 2013. Ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer Ron­ald D Moore said it came down to the wire as they sought to find the per­fect Claire.


Cheese graters, blow­torches, sand­pa­per, in­dus­trial spray guns and pumice stones are among the arse­nal of tools used to give Out­lander’s cos­tumes their aged, lived-in look.

Cos­tume de­signer Terry Dres­bach has been the woman at the helm since the tele­vi­sion se­ries came into de­vel­op­ment in 2013. Her ethos has al­ways been to make ev­ery item worn by the cast – from lead­ing characters to ex­tras – as au­then­tic and ac­cu­rate to the era as pos­si­ble.

That in­cluded en­sur­ing the Bri­tish army Red­coat uni­forms were the per­fect shade (“a deeper, richer red rather than a bright cherry/candy ap­ple red”) and sourc­ing 50,000 but­tons from around the world to avoid the zip

de­ba­cles that have be­fallen many a pe­riod drama.

Out­lander’s showrun­ner Moore, known for his work on Star Trek and Bat­tlestar Galac­tica, is mar­ried to Dres­bach and it was she who in­tro­duced him to the books.

Dres­bach – who has worked on Buffy The Vam­pire Slayer and The Shield – fell in love with Ga­bal­don’s nov­els more than 20 years ago, stum­bling across the books while look­ing for some­thing to read be­tween film jobs.

Se­ries four will be her last, with Dres­bach cit­ing fam­ily and health rea­sons for de­part­ing the show. Ea­gleeyed fans have no­ticed that Nina Ayres – who pre­vi­ously worked on Out­lander as an as­sis­tant cos­tume de­signer – is listed along­side Dres­bach on the se­ries four cred­its.


The Twit­ter hash­tag cre­ated by avid Out­lander view­ers to de­scribe the ag­o­nis­ing stretch be­tween one se­ries end­ing and the next be­gin­ning. Droughtlander is al­most over. Se­ries four will be avail­able for UK view­ers on Prime Video from Novem­ber 5.


The po­et­i­cally named sev­enth novel in the Out­lander se­ries. All Ga­bal­don’s books have ti­tles which evoke pow­er­ful im­agery such as Dragon­fly In Am­ber and A Breath Of Snow And Ashes. The TV se­ries is cur­rently on book four: Drums Of Au­tumn.


The clan name of our swash­buck­ling hero Jamie Fraser played by Scot­tish ac­tor Sam Heughan in the TV se­ries.

The fic­tional char­ac­ter is said to hail from Clan Fraser of Lo­vat, which has roots in In­ver­ness-shire around Black Isle and the Beauly Firth stretch­ing back to the 13th cen­tury.

Jamie adopts the clan motto Je suis prest (I am ready) as his own. Such is the in­flux of tourism sparked by the TV show, a war grave site at Cul­lo­den Bat­tle­field had to un­dergo re­pairs ear­lier this year af­ter un­prece­dented vis­i­tor num­bers left the ground bare around the Clan Fraser memo­rial.


Ari­zona-born author Diana Ga­bal­don penned her de­but novel – what would be­come the first Out­lander book – in the late 1980s as she sought to hone her writ­ing skills with no in­ten­tion of ever show­ing it to any­one.

Ga­bal­don was the found­ing edi­tor of Science Soft­ware Quar­terly in 1984. She reg­u­larly wrote soft­ware re­views and tech­ni­cal ar­ti­cles for com­puter pub­li­ca­tions, as well as pop­u­lar-science ar­ti­cles and comic books for the Walt Dis­ney Com­pany.

With an aca­demic back­ground in zo­ol­ogy, ma­rine bi­ol­ogy and be­havioural ecol­ogy, she was work­ing at the Cen­tre for En­vi­ron­men­tal Stud­ies at Ari­zona State Univer­sity at the time.

Af­ter pub­lish­ing an ex­cerpt of her novel on a fo­rum, Ga­bal­don was snapped up by a literary agent. Her first book deal was for a tril­ogy which has since grown into an eight-strong se­ries. Book nine – Go Tell The Bees That I Am Gone – looks likely to be pub­lished next year.

Sony Pic­tures Tele­vi­sion se­cured the rights to Out­lander in 2012 and the show made its global de­but on US chan­nel Starz two years later. Ga­bal­don had an on-screen cameo role as the char­ac­ter Iona MacTav­ish in an episode called The Gather­ing dur­ing se­ries one.


The land­scapes of the Scot­tish High­lands are as much part of Out­lander as any hu­man char­ac­ter. Roth­iemurchus For­est, a rem­nant of the Cale­do­nian For­est, is among the breath-tak­ing back­drops used for film­ing, as is Glen­coe, which has fea­tured in the show’s open­ing cred­its.


Pro­duc­tion de­signer Jon Gary Steele has breathed life into count­less Out­lander sets over the past six years in­clud­ing a Parisian apothe­cary, a high-class brothel and the court of Louis XV.

He re­cently re­vealed that a plan­ta­tion set is his favourite in se­ries four: “It’s heav­ily de­tailed – even more than the Parisian sets, be­lieve it or not. I think it’s more beau­ti­ful, even, than some of the Parisian sets.”


Gal­lant High­lander Jamie Fraser is played by Sam Heughan. Hand­some and brave with oo­dles of charm, he has be­come a pin-up world­wide. Heughan – who is nat­u­rally dark blond – dyes his hair red for the role.


Heughan is par­tial to rock­ing a kilt and has of­ten waxed lyri­cal about it: “There’s so many great ben­e­fits of wear­ing a kilt: It’s very free, it’s got its own aer­a­tion and they’re very com­fort­able. But the best part, for me, hon­estly, is the swing. You know, the pleats you get in the kilt.”

Tar­tan can be a thorny is­sue – some­thing cos­tumer de­signer Terry Dres­bach knows only too well. “There is a con­tro­versy around tar­tans which has gone on for years about the au­then­tic­ity of the re­ally bril­liant colours,” Dres­bach told The Her­ald in 2015. “We knew we didn’t want peo­ple pranc­ing around in the heather in bril­liant red and or­ange tar­tan.

“Learn­ing what I have about Scot­land, it didn’t make sense to me that in a poor croft, a dark and win­dow­less build­ing with the fire go­ing in the cen­tre, a cou­ple of pigs in the cor­ner and three gen­er­a­tions of peo­ple liv­ing there, you would be sit­ting there try­ing to get the per­fect shade of scar­let. It made much more sense that gar­ments would be sim­pler and go about the busi­ness of liv­ing.”


A long – and ever grow­ing – list of Scot­tish lo­ca­tions has been used in Out­lander. These in­clude:

Black­ness Cas­tle, West Loth­ian (se­ries one and two). The 15th-cen­tury fortress dou­bled as the Fort Wil­liam head­quar­ters of das­tardly Black Jack Ran­dall.

Cul­ross, Fife (se­ries one and two). The Mer­cat Cross area was trans­formed into the fic­tional vil­lage of Cranes­muir, while Cul­ross Palace grounds were used as Claire’s herb gar­den at Cas­tle Leoch. Cul­ross fea­tured in later scenes as a Ja­co­bite en­camp­ment and makeshift hospi­tal.

Bake­house Close, Ed­in­burgh (se­ries three). The close, just off Ed­in­burgh’s Royal Mile, is the set­ting for Jamie’s print shop.

Drum­mond Cas­tle Gar­dens, Perthshire (se­ries two). The beau­ti­fully or­nate gar­dens were used to rep­re­sent the Palace of Ver­sailles in France.

Dunure, Ayr­shire (se­ries three). The har­bour in the vil­lage of Dunure stands in for Ayr.

Hopetoun House, West Loth­ian (se­ries one, two and three). The es­tate has en­joyed var­i­ous in­car­na­tions in

Out­lander in­clud­ing as the home of the Duke of San­dring­ham.

Kelv­in­grove Park, Glas­gow (se­ries three). Used when Claire takes a stroll in a Bos­ton park.

Signet Li­brary, Ed­in­burgh (se­ries three). Its in­te­rior was trans­formed into the Gover­nor’s Man­sion in Ja­maica.

For an in­ter­ac­tive map of Out­lander lo­ca­tions, check out the VisitS­cot­land web­site: visits­cot­land.com


Played by Dun­can Lacroix, the gruff and loyal Murtagh Fitzgib­bons Fraser is god­fa­ther and right-hand man of Jamie Fraser. Prior to Out­lander, Lacroix starred in Vikings, Game Of Thrones and Primeval. He ap­pears in forth­com­ing Net­flix film Out­law King as Lord Henry Percy.


Maria Doyle Kennedy, whose past roles in­clude Or­phan Black, Dex­ter and The Tu­dors, has been cast as Jamie’s plan­ta­tion-own­ing Aunt Jo­casta, while for­mer Down­ton Abbey and Wolf Hall star Ed Speleers will por­tray Stephen Bon­net – a vil­lain­ous pi­rate and smug­gler.

New Scot­tish faces to look out for in­clude Pais­ley’s Craig McGin­lay, known for play­ing Sir Per­ci­val in King Arthur: Leg­end Of The Sword, and Glaswe­gian ac­tor Ains­ley Jor­dan as Ju­dith Wylie, a char­ac­ter who is set to be­come a ri­val of Claire’s.

Cutest cast­ing of se­ries four? Two North­ern Inuit pup­pies re­cruited to play Rollo, a wolf hy­brid that be­comes a beloved mem­ber of the Fraser clan.

Fun fact: Maria Doyle Kennedy re­cently col­lab­o­rated with singers Feist and Jarvis Cocker on a video for the song Cen­tury from Feist’s new al­bum.


Fans with culi­nary skills reg­u­larly rus­tle up baked goods for sweet-toothed cast and crew.

“Some­how they man­age to find us on set no mat­ter where we are shoot­ing, even if it is in the mid­dle of nowhere, and bring lots of sug­ary goods – which al­ways goes down a treat,” says Heughan.

“It is usu­ally peanut but­ter-based bis­cuits for me and gluten-free, pseudo healthy things for Cat [Balfe]. When it was my birthday they sent to the stu­dios the most enor­mous cake that was shaped like Craigh na Dun [stand­ing stones] and had Jamie and Claire on the top.”


The “im­por­tance” of Out­lander to the po­lit­i­cal at­mos­phere of the 2014 Scot­tish in­de­pen­dence ref­er­en­dum was high­lighted by key TV ex­ec­u­tives be­fore a meeting with for­mer Prime Min­is­ter David Cameron.

In a cache of leaked memos from the Sony or­gan­i­sa­tion ob­tained by Wik­iLeaks, an email writ­ten by Keith E Weaver, ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent at Sony Pic­tures En­ter­tain­ment, dis­cussed a meeting with Cameron in the sum­mer of 2014.

The email fu­elled spec­u­la­tion that the UK Govern­ment did not want the show broad­cast be­fore the in­de­pen­dence vote in Septem­ber that same year. It specif­i­cally re­ferred to Out­lander and “the po­lit­i­cal is­sues in the UK as Scot­land con­tem­plates de­tach­ment this Fall”.


One of the many Scots words you will hear on Out­lander (it means “lassie”). Gaelic is preva­lent too and not sub­ti­tled – a de­lib­er­ate move by the show’s makers to con­vey the sense of iso­la­tion and con­fu­sion Claire ex­pe­ri­ences upon first ar­riv­ing in 18th-cen­tury Scot­land.


The Glas­gow-born ac­tor plays Roger Wake­field, an Ox­ford pro­fes­sor and the adopted son of an In­ver­ness min­is­ter, who finds him­self un­wit­tingly em­broiled in a time-trav­el­ling adventure.

Rankin joined the cast in late 2015 af­ter al­most 18 months of fever­ish spec­u­la­tion. Other names in the frame to play Roger re­port­edly in­cluded Down­ton Abbey’s Matthew Goode, for­mer Game Of Thrones star Gethin An­thony and Body­guard’s Richard Mad­den.

Fun fact: Rankin reg­u­larly gets sent bis­cuits from admirers around the world.


It is per­haps serendip­ity that Heughan was cast as Jamie Fraser. As a boy the ac­tor, who hails from New Gal­loway, could of­ten be found in the coun­try­side, play­ing with a wooden stick as he imag­ined him­self as a sword-wield­ing Robert the Bruce or Wil­liam Wal­lace.

Heughan spent his teenage years in Ed­in­burgh among the youth ranks of the Royal Lyceum Theatre be­fore go­ing on to study at the Royal Scot­tish Academy of Mu­sic and Drama (now the Royal Con­ser­va­toire of Scot­land) in Glas­gow.

His part in David Greig’s Out­ly­ing Is­lands in 2002 saw him nom­i­nated for a Lau­rence Olivier Award as most promis­ing new per­former. Heughan played Liv­ingston FC foot­baller An­drew Mur­ray in River City and starred as Hugh Ten­nent in a se­ries of tongue-incheek com­mer­cials for the lager brand.

Other early roles in­cluded Mid­somer Mur­ders, Is­land At War and BBC soap opera Doc­tors, be­fore Heughan landed his big break in Out­lander in 2013. Ear­lier this year he starred in the ac­tion com­edy film, The Spy Who Dumped Me, along­side Mila Ku­nis and Kate McKin­non.

Fun fact: Heughan un­suc­cess­fully au­di­tioned for Game Of Thrones seven times.


Doune Cas­tle has reaped the ben­e­fits of what’s been called the “Out­lander ef­fect” since it first ap­peared on the show as the fic­tional Cas­tle Leoch. Ac­cord­ing to His­toric Environment Scot­land, vis­i­tor num­bers in­creased by 36 per cent last year.

Glas­gow Cathe­dral, where the me­dieval crypt was used for in­te­rior shots as L’Ho­pi­tal Des Anges in Paris, saw a 27 per cent rise, while Lin­lith­gow Palace, used as Went­worth Prison, was up 17 per cent.


The metic­u­lous at­ten­tion to de­tail isn’t re­served solely for the in­tri­cately de­signed cos­tumes.

Ac­cord­ing to Terry Dres­bach: “When we get Caitri­ona — or any of our characters — dressed ev­ery sin­gle day, she goes into a corset, she goes into a shift. She’s not wear­ing a T-shirt un­der there. So, we have corsets and corsets and more corsets.”


Jamie and Black Jack Ran­dall. Claire and Comte St Ger­main. The list goes on.


There are drams aplenty. Claire in par­tic­u­lar is fond of a glass of whisky. And de­servedly so. As Balfe has ex­plained: “She fell through time 200 years and got dis­com­bob­u­lated.”


Out­lander is famed for its steamy scenes. They came for the sex and stayed for the his­toric drama – or is it the other way about?


The nephew of Jamie and Claire played by the ex­cel­lent John Bell. The 21-yearold ac­tor from Pais­ley has al­ready gar­nered roles in two The Hob­bit films, Doc­tor Who and T2 Trainspot­ting.


If ad­ven­tures in 18th-cen­tury Scot­tish life are your thang, what are you wait­ing for?

Out­lander se­ries four be­gins stream­ing on Prime Video from Novem­ber 5. Se­ries one to three are avail­able now

Clock­wise from above: So­phie Skelton as Bri­anna Ran­dall and Richard Rankin as Roger Wake­field in the forth­com­ing help­ing of Out­lander; Sam Heughan on the Ja­co­bite field of bat­tle in se­ries three; a new ar­rival in the up­com­ing se­ries. Open­ing pho­to­graph: Heughan and Caitri­ona Balfe in se­ries four. PIC­TURES: Starz En­ter­tain­ment

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