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Siobhan Macdonald

Inside Sam Heughan and Graham McTavish's close friendship - co-stars, co-authors and fatherly bond

Sam Heughan and Graham McTavish are two of the most recognisable faces from the Outlander series, and have formed a close bond off-screen as well.

The two Scots actors became fast friends during their time on the hit Starz historical fantasy show, where Sam, 42, plays Highland warrior Jamie Fraser, and Graham, 61, played Dougal MacKenzie before he met his demise.

Since then, the two have co-written two books together, 'The Clanlands Almanac: Seasonal Stories from Scotland', and, 'Clanlands: Whisky, Warfare, and a Scottish Adventure Like No Other', as well as filmed two seasons of their travel show Men In Kilts.

Droughtlander is in full swing at the moment as the seventh season is currently still filming ahead of its expected 2023 premiere date. Last week, we told the exciting news of the latest additions to the Outlander Season seven cast, as fans are delighted at the chance to see Sam and Graham reunited as Jamie and Dougal on screens once again.

Now, let's take a deep dive into Sam and Graham's close friendship over the years..

How did Graham and Sam become friends?

Sam Heughan and Graham McTavish in Men in Kilts season 2 (Sam Heughan Twitter)

The two Scots actors didn't meet until starring on Outlander together. Despite not knowing each other prior to filming, the two quickly became close as they mirrored the relationship of their on-screen characters.

During a joint interview earlier this year, McTavish told Stylist about his first impression of Heughan, “Sam was really warm, charming and supportive.” Heughan, of course, couldn’t help making fun of their first encounter. “Much like he did with this interview, Graham turned up late, out of breath, saying, ‘Oh god I’m so sorry,’” Heughan joked to the outlet. “That’s why I shook his hand; I’d been waiting so long for him.”

Are Graham and Sam related?

On Outlander, Heughan stars as Jamie Fraser, a Highland warrior circa 1743, while McTavish portrays Jamie’s maternal uncle, Dougal Mackenzie—a character who, indeed, is close to Jamie just as McTavish is close to Heughan in real life.

Men in Kilts is currently filming season 2 (Starz)

However, there’s no real-world blood relation between the two actors but that doesn't mean they don't share a bond as close as family. “We’re very different in lots of ways. He’s kind of like my unruly teenage son and I’m his grumpy dad, in a weird, weird way. I mean, technically I could just about be his dad," Graham said.

Last year, Heughan was interviewed for Square Mile by Lucifer's Tom Ellis, and the men took great pleasure in discussing their mutual friend McTavish and the first series of Men in Kilts. “It is a slightly dysfunctional relationship,” said Heughan. “We bicker quite a lot but I think that’s the joy.

“Graham plays these characters who are quite masculine, quite aggressive. He’s a character. He’s well built. But in real life Graham is a total teddy bear and extremely nervous around dangerous things. The joy of Men in Kilts was getting him to do things that he didn’t want to do.”

Do Graham and Sam live together?

The two actors announced that they had shacked up together in a joint Instagram Live video in July 2021. In the light-hearted clip, a rather tanned-looking Heughan and McTavish are seen sitting in a garden together with a glass of white wine in hand.

Sam Heughan and Graham McTavish tease New Zealand adventure for Men in Kilts second season (Twitter)

Heughan is the first to make a joke about their living situation, saying: “We do live together now, don’t we?” McTavish quips, smiling: “We actually do. It’s very beautiful and we’re not ashamed to talk about it now.”

"It's the start of a beautiful relationship,” Heughan jests, before clinking his glass with McTavish.

Many fans speculated the actors could be staying with each other for work purposes, other social media users were quick to point out that they must be joking after one too many glasses of wine. The video was actually made to tell fans about their new book, The Clanlands Almanac, which will explore their experience of Scotland and its culture while they filmed Men in Kilts.

Sam Heughan and Graham McTavish tease New Zealand adventure for Men in Kilts second season (Twitter)

How did Men In Kilts start?

Just one of the pair's side projects outside of Frasers Ridge is their travel docuseries Men In Kilts, but how did this come to fruition?

McTavish told Square Mile: “Then we were gonna do GoPros, I don’t know how that would’ve worked. One on my head, one on his? It was a ridiculous idea. And then we just said, ‘why don’t we just get a film crew together?’”

The show isn’t scripted: all colourful language is entirely their own. “It is me and it is him,” says McTavish. “We know who we’re gonna interview, we know where we’re going and that’s it. Everything’s very spontaneous and organic and surprising, as surprising to us as it is for anybody else. And that’s what makes it fresh and fun.”

Sam Heughan and Graham McTavish in Men in Kilts season 2 (Sam Heughan Twitter)

As for a potential third season?

“The logical place would be North America.” McTavish says. “Because there’s such a massive Scottish influence there, Canada and America.” Take Montana: “the McDonalds of Glencoe moved to Montana. I met their ancestors while I was filming there. They’re native American – so you meet this native American guy called Rob McDonald.

“There’s a whole history of how the Scots arrived. And there are many, many, many more stories to tell about the huge influence that the Scots have had, as such a tiny nation, on the world that we know, especially the English-speaking world.”

When is Men In Kilts season two airing?

Sam and Graham took Scotland by storm in the first season of Men In Kilts, which saw the duo travel across their native country and embark on a series of fun adventures. During season one, the double act took their camera crew in a spectacular journey around Scotland, taking part in Highland Games and even trying traditional Scottish dancing.

Sam and Graham have written two books together (UGC)

The pair travelled around Graham's new home country of New Zealand where they will explore the influence Scotland has had on the Oceania island. In April 2022, Sam shared a production update and revealed that they had finished cutting the first episode of the season, teasing that fans will 'love the new episodes'.

Sam gave a teaser to Forbes Magazine about what's in store for season two: "We were exploring the culture of New Zealand, the Scottish heritage, like there’s the connection there with the immigrants. And then, we were looking at the food and drink, we’re looking at the activities you can do.

"It’s very much an outdoors country, the wildlife. And of course, lots of torturing Graham."

The first season premiered on February 14, 2021 until April 2021, a year after its production was announced, and there is a possibility that season two might follow the same schedule. The season is shorter than the first, with only six episodes instead of the eight in the first.

Sam Heughan poses with Graham McTavish (Sam Heughan)

Is Graham returning to Outlander?

Yes, Outlander fans can rejoice - Graham is returning to the show and will be reprising his role of Dougal MacKenzie.

As filming for season seven is currently underway, the Outlander team unveiled to fans a list of new and returning faces they can expect to see on screen. Returning faces alongside Graham are Nell Hudson, who plays Laoghaire Fraser, Steven Cree as Ian Murray, Layla Burns as Joan McKimmie and Lotte Verbeek as Geillis Duncan.

And new faces are Andrew Whipp as Brian Fraser, Chris Fulton as Rob Cameron, Diarmaid Murtagh as Buck MacKenzie, Gloria Obianyo as Mercy Woodcock, Rod Hallet as Benedict Arnold and Kristin Atherton as Jenny Murray.

Outlander series 1-6 are available to stream on LIONSGATE+ in the UK

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