Thursday, November 19, 2015

AndyPandy wins a trip to the OUTLANDER set

OutlanderHomepage Originals 

By Nancy M Guillory 

Sometimes dreams really do come true and for UK residents Anne Papworth and her daughter Heather, that’s exactly what happened when Anne received the news that she had won a visit to the set of the Starz’s original series Outlander. Sponsored by Amazon UK and Sony Pics at Home UK.

OutlanderHomepage recently had a Q & A session with Anne about her Outlander set adventure.
All we did was ask the questions, Anne graciously and very eloquently transported us to Scotland with her answers, providing us with a firsthand account of the land of the Frasers, right along with her and her daughther Heather.

OutlanderHomepage (OHP): What was your first reaction when you received notice that you had actually won the set visit contest?

Anne: The email from Amazon UK had been sitting in my Inbox for over 24 hours, when remembering that the competition had closed, I checked my emails just in case. The first time I read it, I thought it was just confirming that they had accepted my entry - then I read it again and again and then, it finally dawned on me. OMG! It is saying that I have won!

Such was my state of shock and amazement, I was completely unable to remember my own mobile phone number which they had asked for. I was using my mobile phone to reply and because I was afraid that if I closed the email to retrieve my number, somehow it might disappear. (mad I know, but I was in such a state) I called my husband who was driving to work, to tell him and ask him what my number was! Apparently I scared him to death between mumbled words, half laughter and half sobs, he thought something awful had happened! I eventually managed to make myself understood, but then had an agonizing wait until he got to work and phoned back with the number. Even after I had replied back to Amazon UK, a part of me still would not believe that it was real. It wasn't until I was contacted by the PR Company for Sony Pictures Home Entertainment that I finally accepted it was actually happening.

I had indeed won the trip of a lifetime for an Outlander fan. Having calmed down a bit, I phoned Heather my daughter to ask her to be my guest, since it was she and her partner who on Easter Sunday, who suggested that I might like the new TV series on Amazon Prime called Outlander. When my sister heard what I had won she said "This is better than winning the lottery for you, isn't it?" How right she was!

OHP: When you realized you were actually going to visit the Outlander set, did you ever imagine you'd actually meet not just the cast & crew, but the creator of such an epic saga, Diana Gabaldon herself?

Anne: The prize was to visit the Outlander set, which was amazing in itself. I was not really expecting to meet any of the cast, although in my heart I hoped that I might. People like me don't get to meet celebrities! I was so lucky that on that day, they were all there on set, especially as Sam and Graham had been at RingCon in Germany that weekend. I knew that Diana had also been in Scotland to film the episode she has written, but as she was also at RingCon in Germany, I hadn't even consider that she might be there.

OHP: The attention to detail seen in each episode of season one is just incredible. I understand you can't reveal too much information regarding the set, season two, but when you arrived for your visit were you allowed to see behind the scenes and was it everything you had expected it to be, or above and beyond your expectations? Did you get to meet Terry Dresbach? She is amazing!

Anne: Well, we actually got to meet several key members of the production team and yes, we were indeed lucky enough to meet Terry. Maril Davis met us when we arrived at the studio and we chatted for over 10 minutes about Season one. As I have read all eight "Jamie & Claire" books and Heather five of them, we also chatted about our love of Diana's writing. It was so exciting to meet her, I have been following her on twitter for some time. When I was thinking about what 'behind the scenes' might mean, I hoped we might see some sets and so I was thrilled to be introduced to Jon Gary Steele, the Production Designer. He was really generous with his time and was kind enough to explain how the sets are created, from the design phase through to construction. Imagine if you will, how excited we felt as we walked through one of the sets that was still in place. The attention to detail was simply staggering. It felt as if we were Claire herself, transported back to the 1740s.
It will be thrilling to be able to say 'I have walked through that room' or 'I have looked out of that window', when watching Season two on TV.

We even got to 'play' with swords and muskets! The charming man from the armory, who was very knowledgeable about period weaponry, let me hold Murtagh's sword, along with a dirk and a targe. Apparently that is how a Highlander was armed when he went into battle. You would be flabbergasted at how heavy a 'Brown Bess' musket is! When it has a bayonet fitted, it is almost impossible to keep it in the position necessary to fire it! We had a lot of fun in the armory department. We also met some lovely plasterers/moulders. They let us smash up a breakable plate and bottle. That was fun, but made a bit of a mess!! I did volunteer to sweep up the mess but they wouldn't let me! 

We were also privileged to meet Terry Dresbach, the amazing Costume Designer. Even though she was busy, she made time to have a quick chat and then gave us permission to walk through her department to see where the superb costumes are made. I've never seen so many items of clothing in one place in my life and each one finished to such a high standard. Every person we spoke to was an artist of some kind and each one of them totally dedicated to making sure that Season 2 will be as spectacular as we could hope for. It will be great to watch each episode and spot something we saw on that very special day - and know that we had met the people who created it.

OHP: Where you nervous about meeting Sam, Caitriona and Diana? What other cast members did you meet? Were they as friendly and lovely in person as they appear to be on screen?

Anne: To be honest I didn't have time to get nervous, as we didn't really know that we were actually going to meet anyone; it all depended on the filming schedule. But I'd be lying if I said that I hadn't hoped that I might meet Sam and Caitriona. They are the people all of us long to meet, I think.

This is what happened:
We were shown into a darkened area where they were filming and invited to sit right in front of some monitors. We sat there in stunned silence, not daring to speak. We saw Caitriona move into position on set, then someone said "quiet on set", then "Action" and we saw the clapperboard - and then someone said "rolling" and they started to film the scene. This was all so exciting. Wonder of wonders, half way through the scene, I heard Sam speak in Jamie's voice and I turned to Heather with a huge smile - OMG - Sam is here too!! Then someone said "cut" and the actors walked off the set and walked behind us - less than 10 feet away! And to cap it all, we were told that we could actually meet them!

Caitriona came over first and I do remember shaking her hand and saying something about it being so lovely to meet her. After that it all becomes a little blurry. I know I shook hands with Graham and then Sam. 
My goodness, they are really tall! What did we chat about? I don't unfortunately remember much of it.

Here is what I do remember:
One of them asked how long we had been in Glasgow and where we had come from. I told them we had traveled by train from the Midlands. I said I was surprised that Sam and Graham were still awake, as they had flown back from Germany late the night before. They all laughed and Graham (or Sam?) said RingCon had been busy but enjoyable. I told them that we had seen The First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, in the lobby of our hotel just 5 minutes before we were picked up! (This really did happened.) They laughed at this and Sam (or was it Graham?) informed me "We arranged that so that you could enjoy the full Scottish experience". They had to go for their lunch -  it was all over so fast.

My impressions of Sam and Caitriona are that they are as lovely and as open and friendly as they always seem to be. Physically, they are both gorgeous. Caitriona has flawless skin, which looks like alabaster, lovely eyes and a sweet smile. 
Sam is even better looking in real life than he looks on our screens or in photos. It is difficult to explain but his features seemed somehow 'softer'. 
He has sparkling eyes and a wonderful wide smile that lights up his whole face and would melt anyone's heart.
It was great to hear them both laugh! I think they both seemed more relaxed then when they are 'on show' in interviews and at conventions. There on the set, they were in their natural habitat, they seemed 'at ease' and it showed and was wonderful to witness.

Graham was great. My daughter Heather told me later that she had been impressed by how jovial and friendly Graham was. He even let her hold his dirk!

Meeting Diana was VERY special. I still find it amazing that I actually met and chatted to the wonderful person that created Jamie and Claire's story!
She had just flown back from RingCon and went straight into the studio. She was in an office with Maril Davis and Anne Kenney. She asked us whether we had read the books before seeing the TV series and I explained that it had been my daughter Heather who had introduced me to the TV series in April and that I had not read the books beforehand - but once I had watched the first episode, I was hooked and wanted to find out what happened. I had downloaded the books as soon as I could and then read them all!
Heather told her she had not yet finished book 5, The Fiery Cross, Diana told her to "just keep going"!  We laughed at that, its obvious Diana has an amazing sense of humor. (It's evident by the hilarious situations she often puts Jamie and Claire in throughout the books, and her witty banter on social media.) Anne Kenney said having Diana there on set was great because they can go to her for guidance rather than the Outlandish Companion books. Diana then signed my copy of Dragonfly in Amber!! 

My impressions of this amazing lady is she looks younger than her years and although she's petite, her personality fills a room. She seems to love everyone associated with the show and the feeling seems mutual. I know I came away from meeting her walking on cloud nine, with an enormous smile!

So - Not only did we see the sets and costumes, we met remarkable people behind the scenes of the show and we were privileged to see a scene being filmed.

We were lucky enough to meet the two actors we all dream of meeting in their natural habitat, looking relaxed and happy and met the lovely Graham too!
The "icing on the cake" for me, meeting and chatting with "Herself"!
A truly unforgettable, wonderful, exciting day!

OHP: Your daughter Heather shared this experience with you. Both as mother & daughter, and Outlander fans, what was that like for both of you?

Heather: It was fantastic to see my Mum so happy. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience but seeing her so excited was great. I am a fan of the series but not as involved as she is on social media, so it was helpful to have my Mum there to explain in more detail who we were meeting. I have to admit to having some trepidation going in because who doesn't worry their Mum might embarrass them, but I needn't have worried. She was great and I loved it.

Anne: Choosing to take Heather as my guest was a 'no brainer'. She had enjoyed the TV series and had read a lot of the books. I remember being amused when she posted on Facebook that she became angry with Jamie, while reading VOYAGER, saying she knew he was a fictional character but that she was going to have to put the book down to calm herself - even though she wasn't as "obsessed" with all things Outlander as I was, I knew she would understand why I was so excited! I knew she was worried that I would "lose it" if I met Sam, Caitriona or Diana. 
I must admit that deep down, I would have loved to have given Sam and Cait a big hug when I met them. But they were in costume and I did not want to embarrass Heather, so I stayed as calm as I could manage.

According to the people from Sony who accompanied us, I was "remarkably composed", so it appears that I was successful in giving the impression that I was "taking it all in my stride" even though under the surface, my heart was doing its best to climb out of my chest!
It was a truly magical day and one that was surely a "once in a lifetime" experience.

OHP: Well, not too much else we can add to Anne’s recounting of such an amazing experience! 

OutanderHomepage would like to thank Anne and Heather for so delightfully sharing their experiences with us. 

I think it’s appropriate to close with a few of Anne’s final thoughts.

Anne: I left presents for Cait and Sam with the production lady who showed us around. Even if I had not met them, I wanted to say "Thank You" for bringing Claire and Jamie to life in the Outlander TV series. My love of the show led me to Diana's books and introduced me to the wonders of social media! I can now chat to other people all over the world who share the same "obsession" for all things Outlander!

I also left a small gift for Diana to say "Thank You" for her gift to the world - The Outlander series.

Part of the prize was £200 spending money. I felt that, rather than spending it on myself and Heather, a far better use of the money would be to donate it to two of the charities that Sam and Caitriona support, so this is what I have done:
I have split the money 50/50 (Fair's fair after all) between Cahonas Scotland and World Child Cancer.

I have had some lovely tweets from the people I have met on that day and have been humbled by the kind comments I have received from the Outlander fans from all over the world, both on Twitter and Facebook.

Before I forget I must say "Thank You" to a lot of people who made my dreams come true.
Amazon UK for promoting the competition and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment for providing the prize.
To the two friendly people from Sony who came with us on the day of and the two lovely ladies from the PR company who arranged the details of our trip.

The amazing lady from the production team who organized everything at the studio, and to everyone we met on that very special day for being so generous with their time. They were all so friendly, including the cheery driver who had to endure listening to me wittering on about how excited I was!

To Heather my wonderful daughter, for sharing the experience with me and helping me "stay calm" and of course I must say thank you to Nancy and OutlanderHomepage, for taking an interest in my story. 

I hope Outlander fans will enjoy reading about what it felt like to see "behind the scenes". How the magic that is Outlander is brought to life.

I can honestly say that we will not be disappointed by Season 2. There are so many talented people working hard to make sure that it will be everything that we want it to be! 
Can't wait to see it in all its glory on our TV screens!

OHP: THANK YOU! AndyPandy!


  1. Wonderful, wonderful piece. Thanks so much for sharing and the detail. Oh my goodness. I have to be honest - am a bit jealous. It is my dream!!! Still, it's fun to live precariously through someone else's experience. So happy to hear so much positive stuff about the "real people". So lucky. Thank you thank you.

  2. Thank you for sharing your experiences with everyone. I loved hearing all about your visit to the set and about meeting so many wonderful people.

  3. What a phenomenal recount of a once in a lifetime adventure! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and feelings with us all! Lucky ladies!

  4. Fabulous recounting of your amazing experience! Thanks so much for sharing your day with us - and confirming that all those wonderful folks we've come to love and deserving of our faith! Best wishes to you all!

  5. Thank you so much for sharing your experience. It was lovely to read!

  6. What a wonderful retelling of the experience. Thank you so muvh for sharing this - Anne & Heather must have had an unforgettable day. Beautiful. Congrats. And so generous with the donations. The prize couldn't have gone to 2 nicer people.

  7. Congratulations on your win and trip, Anne! Sounds like you had a wonderful time filled with memories. Glad you had so much fun and could share it with your daughter, that's terrific!!!

  8. anne, just want to say, as someone who is a nut about good writing, that the powers-that-be for this contest could not have chosen a better winner! just as diana's writing is a magnet pulling us into the lives she writes about, and as cait's and sam's acting brings the lives of claire and jamie into an incredible resemblance of real life folks, your writing pulled me - and others, i'm sure - into your experience during those two days on the outlander set. i felt as though i had been there! kudos to you, and thanks from this fan!