Gabaldon (left) at a TCA press conference last January with Outlander stars Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe

It has taken Canada a few extra weeks, but Outlander in finally here. The bodice-ripping sci-fi/historical romance begins Sunday at 10 p.m. ET on Showcase.

Doune Castle, home to Python plus Outlander
Doune Castle, home to Python and Outlander

I was on the set of the series in Scotland back in February along with a few other reporters. We were taken to the production location, a converted factory/studio, as well as a few very cool exterior locations.  Outlander is mainly set in the 18th century and the main group of highlanders call Doune Castle home. If this 14th century castle looks familiar, it was used extensively in Monty Pyton and the Holy Grail. There’s even a tiny gift shop at the castle where they till sell Monty Python beer.

Apparently books still sell: Outlander began as the first in a series of novels

The series is based on the Outlander series of novels written by Diana Gabaldon. She was at the studio during the press visit and was made up and in costume for a cameo. Gabaldon is frank and funny and very matter-of-fact about her literary career, which she claims came about by accident. Read more about that in this feature I wrote this week for The Canadian Press.

Gabaldon’s novels, which have sold 25 million copies in North America, are barely known in Europe. None of the mainly UK-born cast members had read any of the books before taking on their roles. Caitriona Balfe, the Irish-born lead as spirited time traveling nurse Claire Randall, says she was buying the first novel in a bookstore in Los Angeles—where she now lives—when the store owner told her it was being made into a series. “I thought it was a nice little omen,” says Balfe, who didn’t have the heart to tell him she was about to audition.


  1. Lorraine Black Reply

    Dear Bill, How unfortunate it was that your trip to the Outlander set was wasted on you. You replace good journalism with ascerbic wit: “haggis-eating highlander” to describe Jamie Fraser in the T.O. Star Aug.23 article, totally missed the fact that Claire is English, a sassenach or outlander in Scotland, not “bonny Scottish lass”, hence the name of the show Outlander. You would have been more accurate if you’d just lifted the description from the book and then not pissed off scores of fans. BTW, you would have hit the mark if you’d described Jaimie as parritch-eatting instead; my acerbic inside joke. One may hope you actually read the first book and join other males – Ron Moore for one – and discover not a ” blend of sci-fi and historical romance”, but a compelling story. I’ve come to expect high quality well researched journalism from The Star and I certainly didn’t get it from you.

    • Bill Brioux Reply

      Sorry I fell short of your expectations, Lorraine, Claire is English and that was my mistake. We all make them from time to time. I think a series can be both a blend of sci-fi and historical romance and compelling drama. I’ve watched the first two episodes of Outlander and, in my opinion, it encompasses all these descriptions and more. As for Scotland being wasted on me, I can assure you I was thrilled to be in the land of my ancestors, including my mother, who was born outside of Glasgow in Hamilton, Scotland. Cheers and thank for taking the time to leave your comments.

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