UK-based production Outlander premieres to high ratings

Major Starz/Sony Pictures Television/Left Bank’s series Outlander premiered to strong viewing figures at the weekend, gathering a total audience of 2.3 million. Its debut on US network Starz on Saturday followed a week-long online preview which drew almost 900,000 viewers.

The much-anticipated production is an adaptation of Diana Gabaldon’s novel of the same name, and follows nurse Claire Randall’s supernatural journey back in time from the 1940s to 18th Century Scotland.

Lochs, castles, cities and glens

Much of the story takes place in the Scottish Highlands. Being based at Wardpark Studios, a former factory in Cumbernauld just outside Glasgow, allowed the team the flexibility to shoot throughout the surrounding area. As a result, Outlander showcases many of the region’s stunning locations, including Cumbernauld Glen and Loch Lannoch.

The series’ historic setting was also well-served by Scotland’s many castles, with Doune, Kilchurn and Blackness all being utilised. Back in Glasgow, the city’s locations were used for the series’ 1945 scenes, highlighting the diversity of locations available in Scotland, with guidance and support provided throughout by Creative Scotland.

But this was not Sony Pictures Television’s first trip to the Scottish Highlands: the studio were part of the British Film Commission’s inaugural US to UK high-end television familiarisation trip in 2013. The initiative, staged to mark the launch of the UK’s tax relief for high-end TV, allowed execs from nine major US TV companies and networks to visit studios, facilities and locations and meet key production personnel from every nation of the UK.

Showcasing UK talent

The UK’s reputation as one of the world’s premier production centres is based as much on its creative talent as its unique locations. Outlander took full advantage, with Directors Richard Clark and Brian Kelly, Cinematographer Neville Kidd and Art Director Fiona Gavin just some of the many UK crew members on set.

the show’s US Executive Producer Ronald D. Moore was quick to sing their praises, telling the audience at a recent Q&A session that the show’s impressive production values were a result of “The Scottish and UK based crew, who sweat bullets and made this show look as amazing as it does”.

UK talent also features heavily in front of the camera, with up-and-coming Scottish actor Sam Heughan taking the central role of Jamie Frasier, a young Scottish warrior. English actor Tobias Menzies also features in a starring role, and is no stranger to high-end television, having also starred in HBO’s highly acclaimed Belfast-based production Game of Thrones. Menzies can also be seen in BBC/Sundance’s The Honourable Woman, which aired recently to high acclaim.

As born out by viewing figures, Outlander has achieved a major feat – a successful translation from best selling novel to screen. It’s a success which can be attributed in no small part to Scotland’s breathtaking locations and established and expanding infrastructure and the world-class production resources and creative talent available throughout the UK.

Find out more about Outlander here.