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You get the feeling Sam Heughan doesn’t do well with idle time: While starring in the hit Starz show Outlander, he managed to release both a New York Times bestseller—Clanlands, written with co-star Graham McTavish—and an award-winning whisky brand, Sassenach (“Hopefully wherever you are in the world, if you taste it, it’ll take you back to Scotland”). Now, he’s adding “travel show host” to his expansive resume, teaming up with McTavish again on Men in Kilts: A Roadtrip with Sam and Graham. In a period of respite between surging COVID-19 numbers last summer, the pair loaded up a camper van and drove across Scotland, making stops in Edinburgh, Glencoe, Skye, Lewis, Inverness, Braemar and more, exploring Scotland’s food, sports, music, superstitions, history, and culture.
We caught up with Heughan ahead of Men in Kilts’ February 14 debut on Starz to learn about the highlights of his adventures with McTavish—as well as the moment when things got a bit, well, chilly.
How did the idea of a travel show with Graham come around?
Working on Outlander, I saw and loved the enthusiasm about Scotland—about the Highlanders and Highland culture. Initially, we were discussing making a podcast, but then it really sprouted arms and legs and was fully formed and turned into this show that we have now—just exploring Scottish culture and sharing that with the rest of the world. Who wouldn’t want to go on a road trip and eat great food and see great sights?
Shooting a travel show in the middle of 2020 must have been a logistical nightmare. Walk us through what it was like.
It was just after the first lockdown, so things were opening up in Scotland. I think, to be honest, we were a little bit of a guinea pig for other productions—we were one of the first ones to go. Because it’s a small show and very contained and we were up in the Highlands of Scotland, the risk was relatively low. But it was a new world of shooting in this COVID environment, and it was a lot to get your head around the different protocols. We’re very, very lucky that we’re safe, and that we’re able to keep working when other people aren’t, so hopefully we can bring a bit of joy to people during this time.