Outlander

The cast of Outlander

Jason Bell/Starz
Outlander

Caitriona Balfe as Claire Randall and Sam Heughan as Jamie Fraser in season six of Outlander.

Jason Bell/Starz
Outlander

Caitriona Balfe as Claire Randall and Sam Heughan as Jamie Fraser in season six of Outlander.

Jason Bell/Starz
Outlander

Sophie Skelton as Brianna Randall Fraser, Caitriona Balfe as Claire Randall and Sam Heughan as Jamie Fraser in season six of Outlander.

Jason Bell/Starz
Fill 1
Fill 1
April 05, 2022
In The Mix

How Outlander Weathered Season Six

From recreating battles to withstanding temperamental weather, the Prime Video drama overcame a series of production challenges.

Kathleen O'Steen

It's not just the fans of Starz's Outlander who love this enormously popular show. Cast and crew, as they've been known to say, love the story they're telling. That passion has kept them energized through five challenging seasons. But perhaps no season has been as daunting as season six, now airing.

Based on a series of novels by Diana Gabaldon, Outlander follows the time travels of nurse Claire Randall (Caitríona Balfe) — fresh from the battlefields of World War II — who suddenly finds herself in eighteenth-century Scotland. Her journey unfolds in the Scottish Highlands, takes her to the glittering ballrooms of Louis XV's France and eventually back across the Atlantic, to prerevolutionary America.

With all those locations and nods to historical events, each season has presented an increasing level of production difficulty. But when season six began shooting in January 2021, the pandemic was still raging, vaccines were not yet available and Balfe was pregnant.

"We had postponed production initially because of Covid," says executive producer Maril Davis, "but once there were protocols in place, we felt like we could proceed safely. And while it feels like I'm always saying that the last season was the most difficult, this latest season turned out to be even more so."

Which is saying a lot, given that previous seasons had called for filming in drafty castles amid Scottish winters, recreating the bloody 1746 Battle of Culloden between Jacobite and British forces, filming a shipwreck during an Atlantic storm and recreating the forests of eighteenth-century North Carolina in Scotland, where the series continues to film.

Ironically, it was not the pandemic that wreaked so much havoc — it was Scotland's temperamental weather. "We tried to film outdoors as much as possible because we wanted to keep air circulating," Davis explains. "But it's really cold in Scotland, and the rain last year was unbelievable."

Everyone was masked and tested for Covid several times a week. The production crew and extras were scaled back, and many producers, casting executives and the like worked from afar via Zoom. Balfe, who gave birth to a son last August, spent limited time on set due to her pregnancy.

While some shows dealt with the pandemic by reducing the number of actors in scenes and the number of sets, that was hard to do on Outlander. With its plots charted by author Gabaldon, the series is "following a story that doesn't lend itself to just two people in a room, talking," Davis says.

Indeed. In the eight action-packed episodes of season six, the winds of the American Revolution are starting to swirl around Claire and her husband Jamie (Sam Heughan). Season seven will feature sixteen episodes, and work is already well under way.

The series' ardent fans are surely aching for a preview. But Davis stays mum on the subject, saying only, "War is coming."


Viewers can catch up on Outlander on the Starz app, on streaming and on-demand platforms, and internationally on Starzplay.


This article originally appeared in emmy magazine issue #2, 2022, under the title, "A Proven Series, Put to the Test"

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