Jamie Fraser is Real! Outlander Mini-Series Being Filmed

by JoHarrington

Diana Gabaldon's epic novels are being dramatized by US cable channel Starz. It will be shown on our screens in the Summer of 2014.

For fans of Diana Gabaldon's 'Outlander' series, it doesn't get much more exciting than this. I know, because I'm one of them!

Since 1991, we have all mused over who our dream cast would be. Most importantly of all, who would get to play Jamie and Claire. Now this discussion is for real. The roles of Jamie Fraser, Black Jack Randall and Angus Mhor have already been filled.

This is really happening, Gabaldon fans! This is really and truly happening!

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

This was the book which started it all. In Britain, it was released as 'Cross Stitch'. I own copies of both versions! (Not to mention all of the rest.)

Outlander is a Series You Will Want to Share with your Friends

It's impossible not to recommend Diana Gabaldon's books. In fact, you might not have to say a word, just let someone witness your rapt attention while reading them!

Image: Urquhart Castle and Loch NessAllow a fan-girl a moment to gush.  I've only just heard the news!

I've been instantly transported back several years.  My friend Shonna paused just long enough to check that I hadn't read Diana Gabaldon's books.  Then she went out and bought me the first three.

That was how confident she was that I would love them.

I opened the pages of Outlander and began to read. In truth, the first couple of chapters seemed fairly average. Well written, but not enough to be causing this much of a fuss. Then I read just one line and everything turned on its head.

I was hooked.  I couldn't breathe until I'd found out what would happen next.  I read that book over my meals, on the toilet, while walking from my car to my place of work, propped up on the windowsill while I brushed my teeth, everywhere. 

At one point, my boss at the time came over to my desk and told me that she really had no more work for the next hour or so.  She suggested that I read my Diana Gabaldon book. That was the first and last time that ever happened!  She knew damn well where my mind was. She'd spoken it with a twinkle in her eye!  So I sat at work and read.

Moreover, whenever I wanted a cigarette, I had to go outside.  I'd lean against a wall reading, oblivious to anyone who passed by.  The receptionist of the building collared me. "Whatever that book is, can I borrow it next?"  She asked. "The look on your face tells me that I have to read it."

So she did.  She read it while on reception. Everyone who entered the building saw her expression and most of them asked to borrow it next.

Those books spread like a wave throughout the campus. Everywhere you went, all you could hear were discussions about it.  The names of Jamie and Claire popped up in the most unexpected corners.

They really are that good.

Immerse Yourself in Diana Gabaldon's Outlander Series

These are the next three books in the series. I devoured them with all the ferocity in which I read the first. Just write off your life, you won't be able to put them down.
Enter the world of Outlander and you'll never come out again. Diana Gabaldon's amazing story is about to become a global television phenomenon too.

What is Diana Gabaldon's Outlander About?

This is a much harder question than it sounds. The 'Outlander' series covers a lot of ground! There's probably something there for everyone.

Image: Clava CairnsThe story begins in the aftermath of the Second World War. 

Claire and her husband Frank are holidaying in Inverness, getting to know one another again. Most of their seven years of marriage were swallowed up by the war.  Claire was a nurse stationed first in Britain, then in France. As an officer, Frank was sent all over Europe.

So now it's quiet, as they pick up the pieces in Scotland.

Until, that is, Claire visits some local standing stones and the world turns distinctly insane. It takes her a while - during which she's assaulted, abducted, set to nursing duties and dumped on the outskirts of a skirmish - to realise that she's now in the 18th century. By a while, I mean an hour.

Meanwhile, Claire has already found an ally.  Her first patient is Jamie Fraser, a young and towering Scottish man with a dislocated shoulder and musket ball injury.

The two are like chalk and cheese, but put them together and it really works. You will spend half of your reading time giggling and the rest going 'awww'.

Ask me and I'll tell you that Outlander is a time-travel story, laden with delicious and beautifully narrated history. But that is only a tiny facet of it.  Ask the Deputy Vice Chancellor of the University (yes, my rapt expression sent those books nearly all the way to the top), and she'll tell you that it's a swash-buckling, action novel.

We're both right. Plus the people who'll label them a romance, or a military series - those battles are described in precise detail - or... add your genre and there will be something in there for you.

Read More Books in the Diana Gabaldon Outlander Series

By the time you've read the first four, you'd rather die than not read the next three. Take it from someone who searched the local bookshops until she was sated.

Dramatizing Outlander on US Cable TV

This is where the excitement hits fever pitch, as we get to see the scenes - hitherto imagined in our minds - explode onto the screen.

Image: Starz LogoGiven the sheer number of my friends and family who have now read the Outlander series, you can imagine the reception to the news that it's being dramatized.

My own initial WOOOOOTTTTT!!!! was slightly tempered by the fact that it's the US cable channel Starz doing this.

I've encountered them before, when Torchwood crossed the Atlantic.  Though, to be fair, it was creator Russell T Davies who really messed that one up, not his American financiers.

Diana Gabaldon appears thrilled to bits with the situation, which is always a major plus. However, she's not involved with writing the screenplay for the adaptation, which is a minus point. That's going to be Ronald D Moore, who is mostly famous for writing the script for Battlestar Galactica. I'm not sure that the two correspond enough to judge this one ahead of time.

There's already been a hint that things will get changed in the transfer from novel to screen.  Angus Mhor has been described as a bit of a drunkard.  He's also reduced from the tallest man ever encountered by Claire, to being played by an actor just 5' 8".  His part will be expanded.

In itself this snippet isn't too worrying, but as an omen of things to come, it's seriously got me biting my lip.

The Outlander Series Goes On!

The eighth novel in Diana Gabaldon's epic series is due out on March 25th 2014! I can't tell you how long we've been waiting for this!

The Cast So Far Announced for Outlander on Starz

This is the part which has the fandom really flailing with anticipation, particularly since the company are eking out these announcements one by one.
Image: Sam Heughan
Image: Sam Heughan

The most important casting thus far has been those of Jamie Fraser and Claire Beauchamp.

Diana Gabaldon was sent the audition tapes and she immediately gushed all over her blog.  She had seen her Jamie come to life and she's ecstatic.

The honors go to Sam Heughan.  At 6ft 3", he's the same height as Jamie, and the same build too. He's also Scottish, though born in Dumfriesshire rather than Inverness.

He's mostly known for playing Scott Nielson in the BBC drama Doctors.  Though he's no stranger to the big screen, where he starred in Princess for Christmas, nor the stage, where he played the titular role in Batman Live.

The whole of the Outlander series is told from the point of view of Claire Beauchamp (aka Claire Randall). It was undoubtedly a very coveted part, and one which the fandom would be keenly monitoring.

Irish actress Caitriona Balfe is our Claire.  She looks about right to me. 

Claire is English, though there's some French ancestry in there. When the series begins, she's 29 years old (Caitriona will be 34 by the time filming begins).  She has brown hair, which falls in a bob of unruly curls to her shoulders.

Diana Gabaldon has watched the audition tapes and says that the chemistry between Caitriona and Sam is downright electric.  Happy days!

Image: Caitriona Balfe
Image: Caitriona Balfe

English Claire will be played by an Irish actress, and Scottish Murtagh Fraser will be played by an English actor based in Ireland.  *insert Scottish noise here*

Duncan Lacroix is the man doing the honors here. He's being billed as a Game of Thrones alumnus, but he only had a bit part as a Karstark soldier in that series. Viewers might recall him better as Neil from Primeval.

Murtagh Fraser is a quiet, but very fierce man. He's loyal unto death towards Jamie. Claire described Murtagh as appearing very sinewy, like a gibbon. His features seem craggy and ancient. She muses that his ancestry could reside with the Picts.

There are some pictures on-line from Galway News, which show his physique. I could accept him as Murtagh!

Image: Duncan Lacroix
Image: Duncan Lacroix

Next up, we have Tobias Menzies, whom many viewers will know as Edmure Tully from Game of Thrones.

In Outlander, he's been signed up to play two roles:  Frank Randall AND Black Jack Randall. Given that Claire initially mistakes Jack for his descendant, then this is entirely sensible.

I don't know about the rest of you, but I took one look at Tobias and went YES!  He looks so like my mental image of the Randall men, that I can't now imagine anyone else playing them. That's before I've even seen them on the screen!

Image: Tobias Menzies
Image: Tobias Menzies
Image: Stephen Walters
Image: Stephen Walters
Image: Stephen Walters in 'The Village'
Image: Stephen Walters in 'The Village'

Stephen Walters is such a staple of British television right now, that I had no trouble locating him.

I last watched him playing a sadistic teacher in The Village.  I recall years ago seeing him as a victim in a drama about the Hillsborough Disaster.  In the interim, he's played the tough guy, the crazy guy or the funny guy in a variety of shows.

I have no doubt that he's a versatile actor with an amazing talent.  But is he Angus Mhor?

The whole point about Angus is that he towers over the gigantic Jamie and can smack him around. Stephen, love him to bits, isn't what I'd call a large man.

In fact, that was even part of the plot in The Village!  His character desperately wanted to go to war, but he was way too short for the army to consider.

How can an actor go from that to the gigantic Angus Mhor?  Special filming of the kind which turned Robbie Coltrane into the giant Hagrid?  Or will Starz just go for charisma over true to the book on this one?

Another familiar face from British television is also the first woman to be cast in Outlander.

I've seen Annette Badland in dozens of roles.  Most famously as Margaret the Slithereen in Dr Who. I have absolutely no trouble imagining her as Mrs FitzGibbon.

Outlander fans know Mrs FitzGibbon as the unflappable force running Castle Leoch. Surprised by a band of hungry Highlanders at dawn, she immediately fed and housed them all; not to mention facilitating Claire's ad hoc medical room.

Yes, I have no qualms about this casting.

Image: Annette Badland
Image: Annette Badland
Image: Gary Lewis
Image: Gary Lewis
Image: Graham McTavish
Image: Graham McTavish

Finally (for now), we have the two men charged with bringing the MacKenzie brothers to life. 

I don't know about you, but I could believe that Gary Lewis and Graham McTavish actually were related. Though maybe that's just the tough guy images and lack of hair that holds them in common.

Callum MacKenzie is the local laird.  He's a respected bloke, but with troubles of his own. He can barely walk with the pain in his legs and dulls the agony with wine.  On the whole though, he suffers it very stoically.

We've seen Gary Lewis do stoic on multiple occasions. Most people will probably remember him most from being stoical as Billy Elliot's dad.

Callum relies upon his little brother Dougal to do the physical stuff. One glance at Graham McTavish's 6ft 2" frame and muscles tells me that he will be a very convincing Dougal MacKenzie. The man looks like a War Chieftain!

Both Gary and Graham are Scottish in real life, so I doubt either will have problems nailing the accent.  However, they are both Glaswegians, so they'll have to soften it a little for an Inverness burr.

I'm happy with these castings. What about you?

Where is Outlander Being Filmed?

Starz is an American cable company, but it's taking advantage of newly introduced film industry tax breaks in Britain.  That means that yes! Outlander is being filmed in Scotland.

From October 2013, the cast descended for a 38 week schedule on the Scottish town of Cumbernauld.  The old Isola-Werke factory, in the Wardpark area of the town, was converted into a movie lot.  It's in there where different sets recreate the 17th century, as well as the 1940s.

Hopefully they'll nip to the real locations, whenever they actually crop up.  After all, Cumbernauld isn't a million miles from Loch Ness.

Want to know where Starz's Outlander was filmed in Scotland? Looking to walk in the footsteps of Jamie and Claire? Well you've come to the right place!

More Books in Diana Gabaldon's Outlander Series

The main novels aren't all that the author has set in her Outlander universe. Side-story novellas, graphic novels and reference books also fill my library!
Outlander (20th Anniversary Edition): A Novel

Twenty years ago, Diana Gabaldon swept readers into her mesmerizing world brimming with history, romance, and adventure. In celebration of the series that has captured the heart...

View on Amazon

The Outlandish Companion

New York Times bestselling author Diana Gabaldon has captured the hearts of millions with her critically acclaimed novels, Outlander, Dragonfly In Amber, Voyager, and Drums Of A...

View on Amazon

A Trail of Fire

View on Amazon

Lord John and the Private Matter

The year is 1757. On a clear morning in mid-June, Lord John Grey emerges from London’s Beefsteak Club, his mind in turmoil. A nobleman and a high-ranking officer in His Majesty’...

View on Amazon

The Exile: An Outlander Graphic Novel

Diana Gabaldon’s brilliant storytelling has captivated millions of readers in her bestselling and award-winning Outlander saga. Now, in her first-ever graphic novel, Gabaldon gi...

View on Amazon

The Scottish Prisoner: A Novel (Lord John)

Includes a preview of the new novel in the Outlander series.“This could be the worthy Lord John Grey’s breakout novel, as readers are treated to large dollops of Outlander hero ...

View on Amazon

Updated: 09/06/2014, JoHarrington
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Fan gush here about the Outlander series!

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JoHarrington on 12/27/2014

I can't recommend Outlander strongly enough. It's more than interesting, it's addictive!

JoHarrington on 09/24/2013

I'd say that I hope you enjoy them, but I haven't met anyone yet who didn't!

Thamisgith on 09/24/2013

Thanks Jo. That's my reading list sorted out for the next few weeks.

JoHarrington on 09/12/2013

Ooops! I meant to do this, then got side-tracked with a search engine!

Shonna on 09/12/2013

And Murtagh ;) (check YOUR FB page LOL)

JoHarrington on 09/12/2013

Woot! Thanks! I'm going right now to check her out!

Shonna on 09/11/2013

We have Claire! Caitriona Balfe (I hope I spelled that correctly), go on Diana Gabaldon's Facebook page...there's a pic! She definitely looks the part...

JoHarrington on 09/08/2013

Hasn't the director's wife come out as a Jamie and Claire fan? Hopefully it won't be too bad, even if odd things are changed for the show.

LOL I'll have to have a closer look at what's on those tables!

Shonna on 09/07/2013

OOH speaking of True Blood...apparently there are scenes with books on a character's tables that are downright brilliant...the Bloodsucking Fiends books by Christopher Moore - specifically Bite Me and You Suck :D You should read those, too :) You'll cackle-laugh, promise!
2014 promises to be a big hear for Gabaldon fans...and Ms. Gabaldon herself! Starz seems well aware they're in for close observation all the way through the process...we as a fan-base won't let them mess this up TOO much ;)

JoHarrington on 09/07/2013

Thank you twice over! For introducing me to the stories in the first place and now for giving me the heads up on this one. As of today, I'm re-reading the books from the start AGAIN.

I was reading what Diana Gabaldon was saying about the series. She seems really pleased so far.

I'm glad too that it will be a mini-series. There's more potential for all of the books making it to the screen. But the example of 'True Blood' has taught me that it may not be quite how the novels played out. Quite, quite different in fact.

I really want to know who will be Claire too! That's when the fandom will REALLY go into overdrive, with everyone shopping her and Sam Heughan together to see how they look.

And let me echo your sentiments here with a heart-felt SQUEEEEEEEEEEZOMGEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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