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24 September 2014
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Monarch of the Glen
Lloyd Owen plays Paul Bowman MacDonald

Monarch of the Glen - series seven

Starts this September on BBC ONE

Lloyd Owen plays Paul Bowman MacDonald

When it comes to the women in his life, unlucky-in-love laird Paul has a knack of falling for the wrong ones.


But the final series of Monarch sees him encountering an oddball local shepherdess who unexpectedly turns his head.


They're an unlikely pair, but it's clear there's a real spark between Iona (Kirsty Mitchell) and the handsome laird.


Could this be the happy ending that Paul has always dreamt about?


"Because of his family background - or lack of it - Paul has always been desperate to have a proper wife and children," says Lloyd.


"Paul is a complicated man whose life revolves around running a very time-consuming estate - that's a big thing for someone else to be prepared to take on.


"I suppose I did the opposite thing to him as I married young, but for mates of mine who are thinking about getting married at this age, it's a much harder thing to do, as there are many more boxes to tick."


Lloyd explains: "He meets Iona for the first time when she becomes a spokesperson for the crofters on the estate and they go out for dinner to discuss various issues.


"At first he just sees her as another problem he has to deal with, but Iona's very beautiful, so quite naturally their dinner becomes a double-edged sword - a mixture of business and pleasure.


"Their attraction bubbles under the surface for the first couple of episodes, but I tend to find if there is a single girl of a similar age in the vicinity of Paul MacDonald, then there's an inevitability he will end up going out with her," laughs Lloyd.


But the course of true love never runs smoothly in Glenbogle and Paul's attempts to impress Iona only result in him burning down her house.


"He tries to fix her electrics, you know, using his DIY skills to impress her, but it all goes horribly wrong," explains Lloyd, with a grin.


"When she tries to boil the kettle for a cup of tea the whole house goes up in flames. So Paul, mortified, offers her a room at Glenbogle. Some people may say that's a very clever ploy. You know, burn a girl's house down so she has to come and stay at your place."


Business-wise, this series Paul feels well and truly in pole position as the laird. He's finally achieved the respect of the community and feels at home at Glenbogle.


However, changes in land ownership cause him real problems and threaten the estate's very existence.


Above all, Paul is fiercely protective of Glenbogle's future and feels the full responsibility of his position. He is, after all, a MacDonald.


"The money problems they have always had on the estate start to reappear, which is a major worry for Paul. Typically, he keeps it to himself for a while, not telling anyone quite how bad the finances actually are.


"He thinks it's down to him to save Glenbogle and of course he feels the huge weight of the historical responsibility. There are pictures on the walls of previous lairds going back hundreds of years, so he's putting himself under an enormous pressure not to let the family history down."


Family is also very important to Lloyd and he enjoyed a very close relationship with his father - actor Glyn Owen of Howard's Way fame - who sadly passed away last year.


"He died when we were filming the previous series of Monarch so that was a tough time - it's still tough not having him around," reflects Lloyd.


"I learnt so much about this business from my dad over the years - and that keeps me very grounded in this mad world of celebrity we now live in."


He adds: "The thing about my dad and the thing about me is that we didn't become actors to become famous. That's a side effect of the job. It's something you live with, it's not the reason for doing it.


"Dad was always very happy for me to be an actor. Whenever I said I was finding it tough he'd always say: 'Oh I had a fantastic time, it's been brilliant'.


"He was living his dream and if my son wants to act I'll be fine about it as well. Although I may try and push him towards entertainment law instead and explain to him that's where the real money is," adds the RADA-trained actor, who in-between series starred alongside Tara Fitzgerald in a West End production of Michael Frayn's Clouds.


"We took the play on tour before we went to London and I was amazed at the amount of Monarch fans that came round to the stage door afterwards to say hello."


The theatre once again beckons Lloyd later this year when he takes to the stage in Howard Brenton's new play, Paul, at the National Theatre.


However, now that filming for the final series of Monarch has come to an end, London-born Lloyd - who has appeared in the show for the last three years - admits he will miss everything about the feelgood drama.


But he's chuffed that the BBC are giving the show the big send-off it deserves.


"I love the fact that the BBC are allowing us to quit while we are ahead and go out with a bang rather than a whimper.


"Most importantly, it allows the writers the chance to end the show properly and it gives the people who have dedicated seven years of their Sunday nights to watching Monarch some kind of resolution and hopefully some happy endings," he says.


"Personally speaking, Monarch has helped me find a bit of Scotland I can call my own, and I'm really grateful for that.


"I've relished every moment I've spent up here - the Highland scenery is the best anti-depressant anyone could ever have and should be available on the NHS.


"Once you get up to the top of those breathtaking ridges you can't help but be inspired. Sometimes it's so windy you can lean back into it and your whole life comes into perspective. I'm going to miss it terribly, but I've made some lifelong friends up here and I'll definitely be back."

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