A Starstruck Weekend in Blackpool—My Time at The Highlanders 2 Outlander Fan Event
I arrived and immediately felt a little bit daunted until I got talking to the woman next to me in line, Paula, (from Loveland, Colorado) and the scene was set for a friendly fun time and the opportunity to meet people from ALL over the world. Finding my Outlander Cast Clan buddies proved to be not so easy, though. The WiFi for the hotel was spotty and my own data reception was poor, so electronic communications were really sporadic. Crafty Christine Lewis found me straight away, but the others proved elusive all weekend, and for that I apologise. Side note to convention organisers—why not have an old fashioned notice board at the reception area, like in the olden days when we would just go up and post notes about meeting people? Just a thought.
On Saturday, the mayhem and chaos got underway full speed—well, this was my perception being a first timer, but other convention veterans seemed calm and resigned. Christine was a veteran of both Emerald City and San Diego ComicCons, so this was peanuts to her! Every corridor was a crush, people were queuing up (where was I supposed to be?!) and things seemed to be all happening at once. If you had to line up for a photo or an autograph (very long lines), you would miss the panel discussion that was going on in the main hall!
Being a newbie I found this challenging. To get Steven Cree’s autograph, the queue was HUGE because he had to leave early. I waited nearly two hours in that line! But the result was worth it—I suggested that he might like to sign on this page of my book and add a little moustache if he liked! He is a funny man.
While the chaos of the event overwhelmed me, I found in the lobby of the final day these two gals, Beth and Pilar, and marveled at their energy to be sitting there amidst all the hubbub working on their creative arts for charity. They are well known for ‘The Laird’ cross stitch, which raised $11,000 for Bloodwise and World Child Cancer, and now they are working on more creations—some of the designs chosen by Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe. These will raise money for Bloodwise, World Child Cancer, Cahonas Scotland and diabetes and suicide prevention. Go, you gals!
Beth and Pilar with their beautiful work
Cast Q&A Panels
One of the indisputable highlights of the three days were the panels featuring Outlander cast members. Video and audio recording was forbidden during the panels, and taking pics was a hit-and-miss affair because it was pretty dark and the action was quite far away. I’ll apologise for the quality of some of the pictures I took, and I’ll acknowledge some of the photos I’m posting here are from my newglasgowgirls buddy and calm and relaxed con veteran, Sabrina Spanke, as well as Crafty Christine. However, I think I was pretty good at taking notes in the dark, and if I had to go out for a comfort stop, Crafty would take up the pen and scribble notes for me!
in the auditorium—taking notes!
Crafty and I were a pretty good team this weekend and had quite a lot of fun together. That was one of the great things, which of course everyone talks about in the Outlander community—such a sense of camaraderie and shared fun! I shared a room with Lynn from Tennessee, and in the long lines, I talked to women from Canada, Denmark and the USA (lots from the USA, all over) and we shared our Outlander stories and had great conversations.
We learned quite a few gems about our favorite stars from the Q&A panel events. Since many of you were not in attendance, I’m going to provide you as near a transcript from the interviews as possible so you can feel like you were. Here we go . . .
What was he like as a child? He was a rebel, an entertainer, and a ‘nice boy trying to be a bad boy’. He once got a detention for climbing on to a roof to be like one of the bad boys.
What was the inspiration for ‘Heughan Talks’? Well, he just happened to have a head shot of Sam Heughan lying around the house (!) and he just happened to have a Michael Jackson doll lying around, too (!) … and then he just thought of doing something funny with those. The rest is history.
What is his favourite whisky? He doesn’t drink whisky—he doesn’t drink alcohol. But if he had to say, he would say Glenfiddich, because they once paid him to do a voice over on an ad.
Was he disappointed that Sam Heughan is not here? Yes, especially for a repeat of the arm wrestle they did last year. He acknowledged that Sam does ‘work out a bit’ but he felt sure he could still have a good chance of beating him in an arm wrestle. In the end, he got a Sam substitute up on stage and they had a wrestling match.
One woman asked,‘”Will you have dinner with me?” . . . Hmm . . . the response was friendly, but somewhat non-committal!
If you could witness anything in history what would it be?
If you could meet any famous person, who would it be?
Then the audience warmed up and started asking questions . . .
Which Outlander character would you love to play, besides your own?
Rosie: “Mary Hawkins is so unlike me, she is shy and quiet and that is not my natural disposition. But I did enjoy playing the character.”
At one point Grant O’Rourke (Rupert) got up from the audience and asked Finn, “now that you are such an acclaimed director, why have you not employed me?”
Your favourite Outlander scene to play?
Grant would whisper compliments into his horse’s ear to get it moving—”this is going to lead to big things for you, fame and fortune”. But, it didn’t work and he was too timid to use the spurs they were given. Stephen thinks his horse was on heroin because nothing would make it move, not even a sgian dubh in the ribs (kidding!)
Or a sequel, like Weekend a Bernie’s—Rupert hauls Angus’ corpse around! Or like Psycho—Rupert keeps Angus’ corpse in a chair in his house.
The war chief and the sassenach
Does Caitriona realise that those scenes with Sam have led to many Outlander fans’ sex lives going ‘through the roof’? Caitriona replied that, of course this is a very important part of every relationship. Just think of it as exercise . . . your ‘Peak Challenge’.
Caitriona’s favourite scene with Sam? Their final scene at the stones, saying goodbye. She said it’s such a special place, and that morning there was a light dusting of snow when they arrived, then the sun came up. It felt like a Disney set, it felt good.
They both prefer working on location. Caitriona said, even though it can be cold and wet, she prefers the liveliness of the locations. They recalled a day sitting in a tent with a stream running through the middle of it. And the fighting scene with Grant’s raid where they spent hours running round in a quagmire. Graham said he and Sam were sitting in a tent that day and saw a bulldozer coming toward them. After thinking that surely the driver would change course, they suddenly realised that he was not going to. They bailed out just in time and the tent was demolished!
How is it possible to develop the confidence that you two have to be actors?
What is the most uncomfortable outfit you have had to wear in Outlander? Lotte talked about the challenges of dragging around a long dress through mud and water, and Caitriona described the wedding dress. It weighed 70 pounds and she had to be driven to and from the set in a modified golf cart—like the Pope mobile. She said of course Highlanders are not the people to be quiet when they see something that ridiculous, and Graham was heard to call out “What the f*&k is that!?” Not only did she have to ride around in that, but she had to have an assistant when she wanted to go to the toilet!
Lotte: The Theives’ Hole. It was so realistic that, even though those were stunt doubles who fell through the roof, they felt like they were really there . . . and the rats were real! Caitriona commented that she is happy with a pet rat, but these were probably just caught out the back of the studio! Caitriona loved the Parisian apartment and commented on the genius of Jon Gary Steele (huge audience applause). She also loved Lord Lovatt’s Hall and the internal courtyard in Paris.
What period of history would you like to live in?
Gary: “Somewhere, sometime, before patriarchy. When it was not a ‘man’s world’ and women were not abused. A world with less war.” — huge hoots of support and wild applause from the audience!
Graham feels that we have now become desensitized to violence and feels uncomfortable that rape may be a plot device, and not essential to show. Some things are better to be just implied, off screen, and can be just as powerful that way. He would draw the line at any acting that involved child cruelty or sexual abuse of a child.
Aside from our favorite actors from the show, the convention was chock-full of fans in costume. And boy, did some people go all out with cosplay! Some women had different outfits on every day and many entered the costume competition on Saturday night.
The costume judging on Saturday night was really fun, as not only did they wear the outfits, but they acted the parts as well.
The panel of judges ready to go
bit of a stramash in front of the judges.
Was the weekend in the “exhausted little seaside town” worth it in the end? Well, I met some wonderful women, heard some great fun talks from our favourite Outlander stars, and came away with some lasting mementos. I’m verra tired but I won’t forget the experience. So yes, I’d say it was verra much worth it. Verra much worth it indeed.