What is Outlander?

With Amazon Prime about to go crazy for kilts, highland rebels and Jamie Fraser's red curls, it's time to find out what all the fuss is about...

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With Outlander poised to play to UK audiences, everyone’s talking about kilts and Jamie Fraser’s curly red locks. But it you don’t know anything about Starz’ latest drama, you’re probably feeling like a sassenach. Am I right? Time to touch that standing stone and find out what all the fuss is about… 

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What is Outlander?

It’s a new series set in the highlands of Scotland and based on Diana Gabaldon’s popular novels. It stars Caitriona Balfe, Sam Heughan and Tobias Menzies, amoung others, and launches on Amazon Prime this Thursday. It also has the kind of opening theme tune (the classic Skye Boat Song) that makes you think about taking up folk singing… 

It looks like a historical drama… 

Well, it’s sort of tricky to explain actually. Outlander is a historical, time-travelling love story. It’s, er, kind of its own genre.

That sounds like fantasy… 

It does have fantasy elements. But it’s in no way full of magic spells, dragons, elves and stuff. The time-travelling is actually quite a small part of the story. 

I see. So where does it start? 

Outlander begins by introducing nurse Claire Randall (Caitriona Balfe) and her husband Frank (Tobias Menzies). They are on their second honeymoon in Scotland during 1945, getting to know each other again after WWII. But while visiting the mysterious Craigh na Dun, Claire hears voices, touches a standing stone and is transported back in time to the 1740s. 

Then what happens? 

Well, she meets her husband’s ancestor Jack Black Randall, Captain of His Majesty’s Dragoons (also Tobias Menzies). That doesn’t go very well. And then she meets a group of Scottish rebels, including the really rather handsome Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan).

Who…

Take Claire back to their highland home Castle Leoch, while she tries to work out how to return to her own time.

And…

Well, come on, that would be telling. You’ll have to watch the show if you want to find out. 

But something happens between Claire and the handsome Jamie? 

Maaaaybe. 

Someone said something about sex scenes?

Oh they did, did they? Outlander has been made by Starz – home of Spartacus and The White Queen – so you can expect a fair amount of bared flesh and ripped bodices… but the intimate scenes in Outlander are far from gratuitous.

Okay, how much if this steamy goodness do we get? 

Eight episodes have already aired to acclaim across the pond, winning the show a People’s Choice Award and a Critic’s Choice Television Awards. They are dropping on Amazon Prime this Thursday (26th March) and you’ve got until 5th April to binge-watch them. Then the remaining episodes in series one will appear weekly, hours after they are broadcast in the US. 

What about a second series? 

Alright, calm down. Outlander has already been commissioned for a second series, based on Gabaldon’s second book Dragonfly in Amber. And there are eight books in total, so Outlander could be around for quite a while… 

May I please watch the trailer? 

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Seeing as you asked so nicely…