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16 October 2014
Monarch of the Glen

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Series 7

After the final episode of series seven was first screened (Sunday 23rd October 2005) we were joined by a very emotional Sandy Morton and an extremely proud series creator, Michael Chaplin. Having appeared in every episode since the very beginning, this was a really big night for Sandy and he and Michael were only too happy to share their thoughts with the many fans that logged on with questions.

The first question was from Ray: That's it - the end of Monarch. How does it feel?

Sandy: It feels very sad. Michael and I were just saying that it is a weird feeling coming to the end of something that's lasted for seven years and has been part of your life for all that time. It's very sad and at the same time I feel intensely proud of it.

Michael: From my point of view we've know for some months that it was going to come to an end and we've worked very hard to end it in the right kind of way. But as the writer I feel sad, particularly tonight, because I won't be spending time with all the characters I originally created. It's worked fantastically well and it makes me sad. I've spent many happy hours in their company and feel at ease with them. But the other thing to say is I was very keen to show the family together at the end continuing to live a happy life together in that place. And that's why we ended with the toast, everybody laughing and smiling.

Question from Sammi: Having Hector return in the last episode was a nice touch. Did you always have this idea for the final episode?

Michael: When Richard Briers originally left at the end of Series 3 - at his leaving do when I said goodbye to him - he joked, "Well, you could always bring me back as a ghost". That was always in the back of my mind. It was his idea.

Sandy: His idea my arse! (laughing) I was totally delighted to get him back. I was very sad when he left. It was just right to have him back.

Question from Marie: Sandy, you seem to be a natural at fishing and shooting, did you learn especially for the programme?

Sandy: Well, I have to say yes. But how much I learnt I don't know. I think almost everything Golly does, I don't. Fishing, piping and so on, all these things I had to learn. I know pipers watch it and crack up laughing because I just move my fingers pretending to play.

Question from Brad: What was your favourite prop?

Sandy: The cap. I loved it and kept it. I was very fond of it. I did like the pipes too.
When I first got them I took them home with me and almost slept with them.
I would take them out of the case and put them on and get used to them so I would look natural holding them. I can shoot. It's the one thing I can do. I learnt how to shoot before. I don't shoot animals though. I was in the Air Training Corps.

Question from annahinsull: Which was your favourite episode to film?

Sandy: I think I'm the only person that's been in every single episode. So it's a very difficult question to answer. There was the wedding scene in series three where Lexie's hat was sitting and it was nailed to a log because the weather was so bad!

Michael: I loved writing all the episodes that I did. I remember the very first one and I remember the very last one. I also remember the episode I was in of course. It was the one in which Hector's funeral was held and I played the part of a Geordie road digger who way-laid Sandy and Hamish Clark with the coffin. And shortly after we'd done the first take the horses pulling the hearse bolted and I concluded that this was the day it could be said my acting frightened the horses and I haven't done it since. They were Clydesdale horses, and they went clean through a fence and into a loch. They didn't stop till the water got up to their chests!

Question from Jeni: So, as the last motg ends we are all in floods of tears so, whats next for you and the others will we see you in anything else any plans?

Sandy: Yeah, I've just finished this week, which is why I'm not wearing a suit, it was covered in fake blood. The film's called "London to Brighton".

Michael: I hesitate to say this in this room but I've written a film about England winning the World Cup, which will be on next summer. And I'm now writing the first episode of what will be a series, if it gets commissioned, set in Edinburgh. It's another family story set in a different place.

Question from Emma: If you could choose any other actor/actress to work with, who would it be?

Sandy: Brando. Brando equals God.

Question from verity: Would you fancy the life of a gillie for real?

Sandy: No! It's far too hard! I deliberately didn't meet many before filming it. If something is written from a realistic perspective it's a different thing. I would have. But when someone is so idiosyncratic, it could get confused. You get two different opinions on who the character is. I would go "They wouldn't do that", rather than I need to do this. I'm more interested in the psychology of a character rather than what they do for a living. I don't have time to learn what they do for a living.

Question from motgrulez: Sandy, did you enjoy the company of the twins who played Cameron?

Sandy: I loved the twins! For filming it's a different question. But babies are babies. They do what babies do. They were adorable… most of the time. They were just being natural and you've got to live with it when they play up. One of them is a bit bigger than the other even though they're twins.

Question from Paddywhack: It was great to see Richard, Julian and Hamish in the final episode. Were all the the cast asked to appear in the final episode?

Michael: There's a limit to how many characters from the past you can have in an episode which is principally about the characters who are still in it. You have to finish the stories of all the people who have been in it this series. It was quite natural to have Hector back because he was obviously going to be involved in the story of Molly's future as Kilwillie was too.

Question from slingo: What was Jess like as an on air daughter?

Sandy: Brilliant! Wonderful. I think she's a smashing actor. I think over the 7 years that at least 95% of the people we've had on the show have been terrific. Rae in particular has been great. A joy to work with.

Question from Emma: If you weren't filming Monarch in that particular area of Scotland, is there any other particularly scenic area which you would like to work in?

Sandy: Good question. Almost anywhere. I could say Canada, Africa, New Zealand and they're wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. Scotland's the same. You could film it a few miles up the road from where we did film it and it would look like a different country. Just turn the corner and it looks different.

Question from Jen: What do you think Golly will be doing in 5 years time?

Sandy: I think he's settling down with Molly, has a child to be brought up, and I see him apart from that, as much of a muchness.

Question from norm: I could see you doing a Cracker or Taggert! What're your thoughts on that?

Sandy: I've done them. I've done two Taggarts. A long time ago. I wasn't in Cracker, though. I do like them. The film I've done is pretty gritty.

Question from r: What is the one memory you will take away with you from the whole Monarch of the Glen experience?

Michael: That's such a hard question! I often say one of my strongest memories is visiting Ardverikie for the first time which was before I'd written a word. And it was being in that place that inspired a lot of what came after it. You remember the beginnings and the ends. I'll remember this evening, watching the final programme with many of the nice people who I worked with on the show.

Sandy: I would love to be able to say I'm immensely proud of being in Monarch of the Glen for the seven years. I absolutely love it and am very protective of it. Very defensive of it and I don't think I need to be. I haven't had negative remarks about it in the street. They've all been very nice. I've put in an extraordinary amount of work, not always in the best conditions, but with a great sense of humour. If you're working for 6 months in one place and don't have a sense of humour it's very difficult. It's been a joy.

Here're some final words from tonight's guests.

Michael: Thanks for watching.
Sandy: I would absolutely endorse that.

Sandy Morton


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