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Thursday 2 October 2014

Outlander boss: Show not too girle

Published 01/08/2014 | 11:44

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Sam Heughan, Caitriona Balfe and Tobias Menzies star in fantasy series Outlander

The executive producer of new fantasy sci fi show Outlander has admitted the show's first battle is to win over male viewers.

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The series centres around Claire, a lovely British Army nurse on a second honeymoon in Scotland, who is mysteriously swept from 1945 back to 1743, and plopped into a strange and alien existence, including marriage to a dashing Scottish warrior.

The Starz show, filmed on location in Scotland, is produced by Ronald D Moore, a sci-fi maestro celebrated for his futuristic Battlestar Galactica, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Ronald admitted men may not instantly see the appeal of a romance-lead saga with a woman at its centre.

"Perceptions are hard to fight," he said. "This is the exact opposite challenge that we had on Battlestar Galactica on the Syfy channel: How do you get a woman to even look at this program? But once they did, women bought in, and loved it.

"Now we have the opposite challenge: Look, Outlander isn't chick-lit or a romance novel! This is really an adventure story. So, you try to get men to sample it in the same way."

Irish actress Caitriona Balfe stars as Claire, while Scottish-born actor Sam Heughan plays warrior, Jamie.

Ronald revealed: "I thought we would cast Claire first, and that Jamie would be the hardest part to cast.

"But Jamie was the first character cast in the entire piece. It happened so early it scared us, but once we saw Sam's tape, we said, 'Let's just grab him while we can.' And then it took forever to find Claire. We needed someone intelligent, funny, empathetic, capable; an actress who could sustain viewers' interest week after week.

"Then Caitriona sent her tape in, and word roared around the office: 'Yeah, that's it!' She was cast just days before she had to go to work!"

The TV show is adapted from Diana Gabaldon's hit novels, but Caitriona admitted she knew nothing about them before she got the role.

She revealed: "I wasn't aware when I got the job.

"But I had a funny moment when I went to my local bookstore in L.A. to buy a copy. When I was paying for it, the clerk said, 'You know, they're making a TV series out of that. Ronald D Moore is going to executive produce it. I wrote my thesis about him in college.' I thought, 'Ahhh, this is a good omen!'"

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