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
"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
"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
"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
"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."