‘Men in Kilts’: Sam Heughan & Graham McTavish on a Very Sporty Episode
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Season 1, Episode 2 of Men in Kilts: A Roadtrip With Sam and Graham, “Scottish Sport.”]
This time around, the pair got sporty Scottish-style, exploring the history of the Highland Games at Braemar, teeing off at the famed St. Andrews golf course, and brushing up on their rugby drills at Murrayfield. The good friends made a game of it, with the loser forced to skinny dip in the freezing Atlantic waters off the Scottish coast.
Below, the pair discuss their competitive nature, working together on Outlander, hopes for a possible Season 2, and other travel pursuits.
Sam, you were the “loser” and had to skinny dip in the ocean. How cold was it?
Sam Heughan: I have swam in many oceans. I’ve swam in the Arctic Ocean, in the Arctic circle. It’s pretty freezing in the North Sea, but surprisingly not as cold as I thought it would be. We have these beautiful beaches in Scotland, with golden sands, blue sea, and palm trees in some places because we have the Gulf stream, which warms the water a little bit. Now, having said that I would not suggest anyone does it without a wetsuit.
Graham McTavish: Was that because you just lost all feeling in your body by the time you got into water?
Sam: Yeah, I was completely delirious and I had no idea where I was. I thought I was on holiday.
Graham: Could have been stabbing you with pins and you wouldn’t have noticed.
Sam: I thought I was in the Mediterranean.
I take it you were glad to be watching from the van?
Graham: I was so glad, I can’t even tell you. It wasn’t so much even running in to the North Atlantic, which I would have done, it was simply the joy of seeing Sam’s face when he lost at golf. It will live with me forever. It was a sweet moment.
Sam: We were staying in a hotel soon after that had a driving range and we went down with the crew. And we were drinking whiskey and I was smashing these balls out of the [course]. They only gave us one chance to hit the ball at St Andrew’s on camera and that’s my first time ever hitting a golf ball. So I feel like—
You have to defend the loss?
Graham: Yes. He’s trying to claw back some kind of dignity, but it’s not going to work.
So you’ve covered, food, spirits and sports so far. What else is coming up?
Sam: Episode 4 is witchcraft and superstition, which is a spooky episode and really fascinating. The history of Scotland.
Graham: Oh yeah. The Clan episode.
Sam: Which is great fun. Song and dance. It’s just brilliant, really good fun. A lot of the traditional culture is passed through song and through storytelling and dance. So we get involved there, which is great fun. And the natural beauty, just looking at the beauty of Scotland.
Speaking of fun, what did you enjoy doing most in this episode? Was it golf for you, Graham?
Graham: Actually, not withstanding the sweet smell of victory, it was actually just being at St. Andrew’s on a beautiful day and having the privilege of teeing off on the first hole.
Sam: For me, it’s a great episode. I think we both really enjoyed that one, but Murrayfield, which is the home of our Scottish rugby union, and meeting two legends of the sport, [was my favorite]. Chris Patterson, who was teaching us about kicking the ball, is one of the greatest kickers of rugby in the world ever. Graham disappeared at some point to go and play some bagpipes.
Graham: I did.
Sam: I don’t know what he was up to, but it was just amazing. It’s a real Mecca of a stadium. And actually, especially right now with what’s going on in the world, not being able to fill the stadium with people, it did feel like some sort of religious meeting place. It would be nice to go back when there’s people there. It’d be really nice.
You’re now best-selling authors, too, with the book Clandlands, which is also about your your road trip around Scotland. Which came first, the book or the show?
Graham: Well actually, it’s terrible to say but I’m not entirely sure. I think the show came first, didn’t it?
Sam: Yeah. We’d shot the pilot material and then went out and approached [publishing house] Hodder & Stoughton directly, thinking, “Could we make this into a book?” By that point, we hadn’t really even sold the show, and it worked really well as a book. We were writing during the first lockdown and I think Graham was in New Zealand and I was in the U.S., and it was just a really fun way to pass the time. And as we were writing it became this back and forth discussion. That’s kind of what the book was about.
Graham: It’s like a conversation between the two of us about experiences that we shared.
Men in Kiltsuses clips from Outlander to provide context for certain events from Scotland’s history. Was it important that Outlander be in the series? Or was it just a convenient storytelling tool?
Graham: I think it really compliments actually.
Sam: We had a big discussion about it at the start. Obviously Men In Kilts has its own show, but we needed to supply context on why we were here and why we are going on this journey. And we use Outlander further on, especially in the Culloden episode, to really portray what happened during that battle. It’s a brilliant resource to have and it’s such a beautiful show that we couldn’t not use it. And we’re very lucky that we had access to it.
If Men in Kilts continues beyond Season 2, would you stay in Scotland, or go elsewhere?
Graham: Both. There’s plenty more to do in Scotland. We’ve barely scratched the surface to be honest. But yeah, other parts of the world. Sam was mentioning India which I knew had a Scottish connection, but I didn’t realize quite as much. America obviously. Canada. New Zealand.
Sam: Australia, New Zealand.
Graham: Apparently Brazil.
Sam: We’re trying to find a tropical island as well that has Scottish [connections].
Graham: If you can help find a connection with Tahiti, I think that would be really great. If there was just a big Scottish influence in Tahiti, I would like that.
Well, before setting off to warmer locales, I hear Outlander is back in production. What can you tease about Season 6, Sam?
Sam: We started recently, we’re shooting, and we’re keeping everyone safe. And obviously in Scotland during winter it’s also a bit of a challenge, but we pick up not long after the end of Season 5 and you know, it’s Outlander. Things are not going to be easy, but the family are together and that’s all that really matters for now.
Men in Kilts: A Roadtrip with Sam & Graham, Sundays, 9/8c, Starz