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24 September 2014
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Monarch of the Glen
Susan Hampshire stars as Molly

Monarch of the Glen - series seven

Starts this September on BBC ONE

Susan Hampshire plays Molly MacDonald

When filming began on the very first episode of Monarch Of The Glen back in 1999, noone could have predicted it would run for seven series and become such an international success.


But even in the early days, Susan Hampshire had an inkling that they were making something special.


"During that first day, we were filming a christening scene in the loch and it was a lovely atmosphere," recalls Susan.


"The sun was shining, there were a few gentle drops of rain and then I saw this huge rainbow appear over us and it seemed to land exactly where we were paddling.


"I'm sure we weren't exactly at the end of the rainbow, because you never do get to the end of the rainbow, do you? But it seemed so close that I thought - wow, this is a really good omen."


The much-loved actress is thrilled the series will be finishing on a high with the return of her former co-stars, including Julian Fellowes as Kilwillie and Richard Briers, who makes a ghostly reappearance as husband Hector, later in the run.


"I am so excited that we have so many people that were there at the beginning coming back - especially Richard. I was really pleased when he told me he was doing it, because in many ways he 'is' Monarch," she says.


"It's the end of an era and it's only right he should be part of it."


And it's not just Susan who is pleased to see the return of some familiar faces - Molly is, too. After playing the merry widow for a couple of years, she's finally beginning to realise she's lonely despite the love of the family and friends that surround her.


Things brighten for Molly when her former suitor Kilwillie comes back to Glenbogle from New York, but there's a real threat to their friendship in the form of his pushy PA Edith (played by Holley Chant).


Then there is Golly, bringing up a baby on his own, for her to think about. She keeps herself busy by helping him with Cameron and in turn brings a much-needed mother's touch to both of their lives.


As always, Hector is constantly in Molly's thoughts - in fact, she's reluctant to take the next step in her life without his approval and guidance.


"When Kilwillie reappears he does say to her at one point, 'Oh Molly, you must know I've always loved you' so that gets her thinking. And then doors also start to open up between her and Golly.


"They are rebuilding their friendship and again at one point he tells her he's missed her. She loves the fact she can be of use with the baby and can't bear to see Golly struggling on his own," reveals the actress.


"But that's a very appealing scenario, isn't it? A man on his own with a baby. There's something about a man in that vulnerable situation that women find very endearing. But who knows which way she will go and how it will all turn out..."


In between series, London-born Susan has been busy touring the country in Alan Bennett's acclaimed play The Lady In The Van - a role she relished.


"It was so liberating being able to scream and shout and look an utter mess. I had these gross false teeth in, really filthy and dirty, and a wig which looked like I hadn't washed my hair for years. It's always more fun in a way to play horrible people and she was certainly about as far as you can get from lovely Molly," laughs Susan.


Later this year, she will be playing the Fairy Godmother in Cinderella in Wimbledon, starring alongside Richard Wilson (Born and Bred, One Foot In The Grave).


Susan also managed to find time to attend the royal wedding of Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles in April this year.


She says: "It was a very democratic guest list in that many of the people there were involved in his charities - and I do a lot of work with The Prince's Trust and the National Osteoporosis Society.


"It was a real honour to be invited. I'm a big fan of Prince Charles and I think he has done more for young people in this country through The Prince's Trust than any government."


Monarch may be coming to an end, but Susan admits she will be surrounded by reminders of her time in The Highlands in her country home in the West Country.


"I was very kindly given five sapling trees from the estate, which I've planted in my garden down south. They've done very well and are nearly three times the size they were.


"My house is full of things I've bought in Scotland; all my kitchen furniture is from there; there are pictures and lots of other bits and bobs. So while I may be hundreds of miles from the set, there will always be a little bit of Glenbogle with me day to day."

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