Falkirk Community Trust today confirmed speculation that two of its locations were used as dramatic backdrops for the hugely popular Outlander series 2, screened via the Amazon Prime Streaming Service. Many local residents were both excited and bemused back in November by the sight of large trucks, cables, camera crews and unusual activity at Muiravonside Park and Callendar House.
Whilst Muiravonside featured in many battle scenes including ‘Prestonpans’, episode 10, the kitchen at Callendar House was chosen as the backdrop for one of the most climactic scenes of series 2. In episode 11, ‘Vengeance is Mine’, the kitchen is atmospherically transformed into the heart of the Duke of Sandringham’s (Simon Callow) house, where in the culmination of the story, he is brutally killed in an act of retribution.
The Hollywood Reporter interviewed Outlander co-star Caitriona Balfe who said of episode 11: "It was really fantastic filming that. I honestly loved working with Simon Callow. He's such a great person to have around set. The effects were just so authentic." She loved how intense and powerful that final scene was. But some major parts of that kitchen scene were left on the cutting room floor.
"It was such a huge scene," co-star Sam Heughan says. "And there was actually a lot more to that scene. Like every episode, we shoot so much more than they can actually show. Maybe at some point we'll get to see an extended version of this episode because there's some very scary stuff by Duncan Lacroix who plays Murtagh.”
The Trust’s locations also proved popular because of their proximity to Wardpark Studios in Cumbernauld, where the series was filmed.
The first series, which aired in August 2014, was a huge success, with the initial episodes attracting 5.1 million viewers across multi-platforms. A further series was commissioned with an estimated £50m production budget.
Outlander has a loyal and enthusiastic fan-base, with 1,227,095 Facebook fans and 248,000 Twitter followers, and the Trust has already had overseas visitors, eager to see where the clash between the Scots and the English was filmed. VisitScotland has reported a surge in visits to its specialised Outlander website, with nearly 100,000 visits logged.
Falkirk Community Trust Chief Executive, Maureen Campbell said, “We are delighted that two of our properties were selected to be part of this hugely popular series and we are confident that with marketing support from Visitscotland, the area will enjoy the benefits of the loyal fans that are choosing to visit Scotland because of the show. Since November we have also worked closely with Locations Scotland to build on our reputation as a superb area for film locations and with the development at Wardpark in Cumbernauld we are confident that we can attraction more of this growth business.”
There are huge potential benefits for the tourism industry in Falkirk and beyond. And both locations, along with Bo’ness and Kinneil Railway, which featured in series 1, will feature on the Visitscotland downloadable location map. Previous locations include Doune Castle, which was used as the fictional Castle Leoch, seat of the clan MacKenzie. Its use has spurred Outlander fans to visit the site, and new figures from Historic Scotland show year-on-year visitor numbers to the castle have grown by 30% to 49,553 in 2014-15. Outlander has exposed the Scottish landscape to the American and German markets and themed tours taking in all the film locations such as Dysart, Culross and Linlithgow are proving very popular, and the series is estimated to have already boosted the Scottish economy by £20m.
Outlander enthusiasts have a genuine love of the history surrounding the locations and enjoy learning about the real events of 1745 and the abundant heritage connected with Muiravonside Park and Callendar House.
With Outlander series 3 & 4 planned, and the Trust having already received several enquiries regarding outside broadcasts and possible locations for photoshoots, the Trust’s film locations are now firmly on the map.