Written by: Naomi Booker, Guest Contributor
We decided on a group trip to The Gathering convention in Germany next year but then along came BAFTAs in Scotland, and we thought, “why wait until next year?” What’s a few Outlander-obsessed pals to do but start plotting our latest behind the scenes with Outlander adventure! And here’s how it happened that we found ourselves on the red carpet of the BAFTAs meeting our favorite stars of the show only a few weeks later…
So, plan number one failed. Fortunately, there was (spontaneous) plan number two and I managed to book a room in the Radisson Blu Hotel where the ceremony would be held – hurrah! The room was non-refundable so there was no going back now!
After a quick change in my room involving lots of layers and some extremely effective feet warmers provided by Dora, I headed back down to the foyer. There I stood with Dora, Sabrina and her friend Doris – all four of us grinning like Cheshire Cats next to the BAFTA stand, just waiting to see who would arrive first! Morag would be returning to join us later.
First to arrive was Douglas Henshall. Douglas played Taran MacQuarrie in Outlander Episode 1.13, “The Watch”, and was nominated for Best Actor (up against Sam) for his role on Shetland. He kept to himself but was more than happy to sign autographs and take photos with us. Next to arrive was Gary Lewis, our wonderful Colum MacKenzie. And, what a darling he is! He said “hello” to us all and went to get a coffee in the bar. By this time, a small crowd had started to gather outside. We went out to join them and Gary, still carrying his suit in a bag over his shoulder, came out and spent time signing autographs, taking photos and giving out lots of hugs and kisses (he sure has a lot of love to give, that man). He then left to go and write his speech for that evening.
After not too much longer, Steven Cree (Ian Murray) appeared. He was his usual jovial self and, like Gary, spent time signing autographs and taking photos with us all. At this point, some burly men in kilts came out of the hotel and started to move the barriers into place. So then, as if the MacKenzie Clan had shouted ‘Tulach Ard!’, we charged over to the barriers to ensure we got a good viewing spot. Being only 5 feet tall, I had to get to the front if I wanted to secure a chance of seeing anything! Fortunately, I got a good place at the front, next to the door to the hotel – the last stopping place before the guests went inside.
We only had to wait an hour or so before guests started to arrive and John, the doorman, kept us entertained during that time. I had my phone, my Harris Tweed autograph book and my camera all at the ready, not sure which I would need first. A few guests had already arrived and made their way down the red carpet by the time the first Outlander star arrived! We cheered as the lovely Bill Paterson (Ned Gowan) made his way down the carpet, stopping to chat with fans along the way. He signed autographs and took photos, and even managed to take a ‘selfie’ with someone further back in the crowd, after exclaiming, “I have no idea what to do!” Next was Duncan Lacroix (Murtagh, of course) who no longer had his long hair and beard! I asked him if he missed his beard and he immediately answered, “no!” but did admit he missed the food he used to find in it! David Berry (the recently cast Lord John Grey), Scott Kyle (Ross) and Steven Cree all followed, each stopping to interact with the fans. They all looked genuinely happy to be there, just as we were.
Eventually the live stream resumed and we prayed that we hadn’t missed either the Best Actor or Best Actress awards. Fortunately, we hadn’t. We waited with baited breath as the Best Actor nominees were announced. Sam was up against tough competition, and while we were sorry for him, we were pleased for fellow Outlander star, Douglas Henshall.
Not long after, the infamous “Outlander Drivers” (David “Davie” Stewart and Andrew “Andy” Finnie) appeared in the bar and sat behind us. We invited them to watch the streaming with us when the Best Actress award was to be presented. We all crowded around the little screen, watching and waiting… then Davie checked his phone and said Cait had won, we could hear the cheering upstairs and when the streaming caught up, we all cheered too! The drivers each raised their glass of water or cup of coffee to Cait, especially Andy when she thanked him in her speech. That was such a memorable experience!
Then Gary came downstairs. After giving up on ideas of how to smuggle us into the party, he decided to go to bed. We had, of course, already thought of ways to smuggle ourselves into the party, but the UV hand stamps and security on the stairs and outside the lift made it rather impossible!
Maril Davis then suddenly appeared, which was a wonderful surprise as we didn’t even know she was there! We took photos with her, which were duly photobombed by Gary Lewis just before he left!
As they left, I sat at my table for one, raised my cup of tea to my fellow New Glasgow Girls, and silently proclaimed, ‘here’s to our next adventure!’