Sam Heughan shares about his early years before Outlander

Sam Heughan ( Jamie Fraser ) shares about his early years before Outlander

“When I was a child I was lucky to get taken to a lot of live shows by my parents, then I moved to Edinburgh as a young teenager. They had a free ticket scheme for previews at the Lyceum Theatre and we would regularly attend. It was a great insight into the acting world as sometimes things would go wrong and you’d see “behind the curtain” many a time – it made me realise there was a whole world of people working behind the scenes and all the hard work that goes into a single production.”

Jamie Fraser Outlander tours
Sam had a few jobs before his acting career took off –   “I applied to go to university to study film and English. I knew I was interested but didn’t know how to get into the industry. After taking two years out I finally applied for drama school. During that time (and in fact more as a “jobbing actor” I’ve done a whole variety of things: Bar/cafe work, an usher at the theatre, reception work, worked at Harrods, delivered sandwiches by bicycle in winter, temp at NHS and most proudly I served whisky at a sushi bar. ”

The Outlander effect continues to boost tourist numbers

The “Outlander effect” continues , telling us what we already know , that Outlander has provided a major boost to the economy in Scotland . Visitor numbers to Scotland’s attractions increased for the fifth year in a row.

Outlander news from Private tours Edinburgh

The two top sites – the National Museum of Scotland and Edinburgh Castle – each attracted more than two million visits, only the second time any visitor attraction in Scotland has surpassed the two million milestone, according to the Association of Scottish Visitor Attractions (ASVA).

Analysis of statistics submitted by 232 of the organisation’s member sites for its annual Visitor Trends Report, confirms that 30.3 million visits were made to those sites in Scotland in 2018 – a rise of 0.1 per cent over 2017 figures. The increase comes on top of a 9.7 per cent jump in 2017, which itself followed a 6 per cent rise in 2016.

Overall, some 59 per cent of all visits were made to attractions that featured in the top 20 list, with ten of the top 20 attractions situated in Edinburgh. Dundee attractions including Discovery Point, which saw a 42 per cent uplift in visitor numbers, also fared well, boosted by interest surrounding the new V&A museum, which opened in September, the ASVA said. Another area of Scotland which fared well in 2018 was the Highlands. RZSS Highland Wildlife Park near Aviemore enjoyed a major uplift in visitor numbers of 68 per cent, driven in part by the birth of Hamish, the first polar bear cub to be born in the UK for 25 years.

Malcolm Roughead, chief executive of VisitScotland, said: “Visitor attractions are a hugely popular and valuable part of Scotland’s world-famous tourism offering, allowing visitors to explore our rich history, vibrant culture, famous heritage and stunning natural environment in more detail. “A growth in visits of any size is a welcome achievement and something we hope will continue. The arrival of V&A Dundee, as well as the increasing interest in set-jetting, thanks to TV series like Outlander or films such as Outlaw King, have only strengthened Scotland’s appeal, and with the opening of Moat Brae in Dumfries and the redevelopment of Aberdeen Art Gallery taking place this year, there is plenty to look forward to in 2019.” The “Outlander effect” continued to benefit many sites featuring in the cult TV series, as well as others with Jacobite connections, with large increases in visitor numbers recorded at attractions including Culloden Battlefield Visitor Centre, Glasgow Cathedral, Blackness Castle and Aberdour Castle.

Outlander actor Tam Dean Burn

Outlander actor Tam Dean Burn – Alastair in the Rent episode , who has appeared in River City and Outlaw King – is recovering after being attacked in the street in Edinburgh .

The 60-year-old was treated in hospital and is now recovering at home after he was assaulted outside the Scottish Poetry Library in Edinburgh’s Crichton Close, where he had just finished speaking at an event.

Friends with him are believed to have intervened and he was taken back into the centre where staff locked the doors.

Police Scotland said a man had been arrested in connection with the incident, which took place at around 3.30pm on Saturday.

The 42-year-old was arrested outside the city’s Crichton Close at about 4pm, a lspokesman said.

Mr Dean Burn had been speaking at a tribute event to the Scottish poet Tom Leonard, who died last year.

About 60 people – including Liz Lochhead and George Gunn – attended the event, which began at 1,30pm.

Emergency services attended and guests were kept inside for about an hour.

Rebus author Ian Rankin tweeted, “Wishing Tam Dean Burn a speedy and full recovery”, while Trainspotting scribe Irvine Welsh said: “Take care bud.”

And poet Kevin Williamson, who was at the event, said on his Twitter: “Thanks to everyone who’s been in touch concerned over the incident today. Tam Dean’s ok and on his way home and that’s all that matters.”

Mr Dean Burn replied: “Thanks Kev & folks. All ok xx.”

Mary Queen of Scots pippins

Mary Queen of Scots

In the days of bodices and doublets the upper classes could use dolls to get an idea of how a particular outfit would look at life size. They’re the only known evidence for the use of “pippins” (from the French poupée) in Renaissance Scotland, and were used by the European glitterati in the 16th and 17th century as a way of keeping up with the latest trends. Research undertaken by Dr Michael Pearce on behalf of Historic Environment Scotland shows that after the battle of Carberry (which led inexorably to her downfall) “pippens, fantasies, and feathers” belonging to Mary Queen of Scots were packed away and locked up in Edinburgh Castle. Dr Pearce comments: “The inventory also reveals how Mary dressed these pippins in the best silks to fashion her European court, as it records a payment in 1563 to Jacques, her tailor, to make grey and silver clothes for a set of dolls. “Much more useful than diplomatic accounts or portraits, these dolls’ outfits would have been exquisitely crafted to display the latest trends in materials, accessories and dress styles. Hello Dollies … Stuart era fashionistas used these 16th century Barbies as guides to the latest style “The miniature versions could then be exchanged and replicated by tailors elsewhere”. Rachel Pickering, Senior Cultural Resources Advisor at HES, said: “While fashion dolls such as these became common in the 17th century, evidence for their earlier use is poorly documented – making this new interpretation of Mary’s inventories so significant. “There is evidence of use of these dolls in 16th century France, with records showing Francois I requested a set from Isabella d’Este, one of the leading women of the Italian Renaissance, for the women of his court. “Mary Queen of Scots was raised at the court of Francois’ son Henry II, and his wife, Catherine de Medici also had a set of dolls among her personal belongings”.

Visit the key locations in the life of Mary Queen of Scots on our private tours. Phone 07305-294773 for more details