Created by Michael Chaplin
No. of series 7
Final episode date 23 October 2005
Genre Comedy drama
Country of origin United Kingdom
First episode date 27 February 2000
Networks BBC, BBC One
|Starring Alastair Mackenzie
Theme music composer Simon Brint with Kenny G
Cast Dawn Steele, Alastair Mackenzie, Susan Hampshire, Richard Briers, Hamish Clark
Monarch of the Glen is a British drama television series produced by Ecosse Films for BBC Scotland and broadcast on BBC One for seven series between 2000 and 2005.
- Series 1
- Series 2
- Series 3
- Series 4
- Series 5
- Series 6
- Series 7
- Regular cast
- Recurring roles
- DVD releases
- French and Saunders sketch
The Monarch of the Glen television series is loosely based on Sir Compton Mackenzie's Highland Novels, which are set in the same location but in the 1930s and 1940s. The first book in that series is called The Monarch of the Glen, which was a reference to the famous painting of the same name by Landseer. The first five series of Monarch of the Glen told the story of young restaurateur, Archie MacDonald, trying to restore his childhood home in the Scottish Highlands, starring Alastair Mackenzie, Richard Briers, Susan Hampshire, and Dawn Steele, whilst the final two series of the show focused on new Laird Paul Bowman trying to modernise the estate, primarily starring Lloyd Owen, Tom Baker, Alexander Morton, and Susan Hampshire.
The series was created by Michael Chaplin and produced by Nick Pitt, Paddy Higson, Jeremy Gwilt, Stephen Garwood, and Rob Bullock. The show saw many directors, most notably Edward Bennett, Richard Signy, Rick Stroud, and Robert Knights; and many writers including Chaplin, Niall Leonard, John Martin Johnson, Leslie Stewart, and Jeremy Front. The series premiered in February 2000, and its seventh and final series was broadcast from September 2005 until October 2005 with 64 episodes in total.
Monarch of the Glen was broadcast in the United Kingdom on Sunday evenings on BBC One, usually at 20.00 GMT. Filming took between six and eight months per series in the Badenoch and Strathspey area of the Scottish Highlands. Seven series were filmed, totaling 64 episodes (including a Hogmanay Special). The show's mixture of comedy and drama, its location, and its cast appealed to countries all over the world, including the USA (BBC America and PBS), Australia (ABC), Canada (BBC Canada), Norway, Sweden, Hong Kong, New Zealand, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Vietnam, and Dubai. The series is shown to more than 100 countries on BBC Entertainment (formerly BBC Prime), the BBC's 24-hour global entertainment channel, broadcast to Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Publicity in the United States included front-page coverage in the Chicago Tribune. Monarch of the Glen was Australia's most popular BBC drama in 2002 and 2003.
British ratings in the first five series were always high, but they lowered after the departure of several of the main characters (Archie, Hector, Lexie, Duncan, and Katrina). A petition was formed by 21-year-old "Boglie" Emma Richards to ensure that lead character Archie stayed on the show, but it failed when the actor left the show midway through the fifth series. Ratings hit an all-time low in 2004, and BBC bosses axed the show, but promised that they would bring back many of the cast from earlier series for a fantastic series finale. The seventh and final series did bring back Richard Briers, Hamish Clark, and Julian Fellowes as promised by the BBC, but the reunion didn't include Archie or Lexie.
While trying to carve a living out of the London restaurant he runs with his girlfriend Justine, Archie MacDonald is called back to his Highland home, to the bed of his dying father, Hector. When he arrives, however, he finds that the news of his dying father was just a ploy by his dotty mother, Molly, to get him to Scotland and tell him face-to-face that he has inherited his father's large estate and castle, Glenbogle. Archie faces a tough decision: whether to help the debt-ridden Glenbogle, or to return to Justine in London. Archie meets the local school headteacher, Katrina Finlay, with whom he finds he is set to have a love-hate relationship. The feisty staff of Glenbogle — Lexie, Golly, and Duncan — also prove hard to handle, and Archie's eccentric parents are difficult. To please all, Archie faces the challenge to save Glenbogle.
After his split with Justine, Archie finally knows where his future lies - at Glenbogle. With a relationship with Katrina set to bloom, Archie faces obstacles: with his new Head Ranger, Fergal MacClure who has also taken a shine to Katrina, and with Lexie, who seems to have her own eye on the Laird. Hector and Molly face problems, too, as their daughter Lizzie comes, apparently pregnant, to Glenbogle. Hector must visit an old flame, whilst Golly faces a battle with Fergal to keep Duncan as his friend and assistant. Archie once again has a challenge on his hands to save his childhood home and to please all who live there.
Glenbogle has finally lost control of its debts, and the bank, Lascelles, sends Stella Moon to take over the estate as financial controller. The hard and stubborn Stella proves difficult to handle, though she has her eye on Archie, now unattached again, as Katrina has taken up the offer of a career in national politics since Stella's presence usurps her and Archie's plans to run the estate together. Duncan also faces romantic problems. Hector's and Molly's relationship goes through bad patches as Molly realises that Hector is spending more time with his chum Kilwillie than with her. Golly is reunited with his daughter after many years, and local entrepreneur Stuart McIntosh tries to take land from under the MacDonalds' feet. Despite Stella's sabotage, intended to show Glenbogle in a dim light at the Midsummer's Ball in an attempt to stay at Glenbogle for love of Archie, the bank's chair returns control of the estate to Archie, who finally realises he's in love with his faithful friend Lexie, and proposes. This causes friction between Archie and Hector, who disapproves of the match. Hector meets a tragic and sudden end just shortly before the wedding is to take place. Lexie gets cold feet on the day of the wedding, which is postponed indefinitely.
Lexie struggles to become the new Lady of Glenbogle after her marriage to Archie, but she can't let go of some of her old duties, especially cooking. When Archie hires a new cook, Lexie becomes upset and jealous, and insists on a cook-off, the dish of which is an old, relatively unknown Scottish recipe. But she doesn't know that the new cook, Irene, had been the chef of a large Highland hotel, and this particular recipe was one of her specialties. Molly also tried to come to terms with being a widow after Hector's death and finds she has a suitor in the shape of new neighbour, Andrew. When a man, Paul suddenly turns up, Archie and his mother Molly are shocked and upset to learn that his father once had an affair, and that Paul was the child produced. Making a difficult situation worse, they discover that he is AWOL from the British Army. Molly tries very hard to be welcoming to Paul, realising that being her late husband's illegitimate son is not his fault, and that in fact, he wasn't even aware of this fact until his mother's death. Still, she feels betrayed. Golly is devastated to find that Duncan is romantically involved with new cook, Irene, but Duncan himself is horrified to find that Irene is set to have a child, the product of the marriage she has run away from. Archie must deal with his father's astronomical death duties as well as finding out that he now has competition for the Lairdship of Glenbogle, as Paul, his father's illegitimate son, is older than he.
Glenbogle's financial problems are finally over, and Archie starts to find that he has cold feet and wonders whether his future lies in Glenbogle. Paul returns to Glenbogle to start afresh but is treated like dirt by the locals. Molly wonders whether she is in love after her relationship with Andrew starts to blossom. Golly's daughter, Jess, comes to live in Glenbogle. Duncan finds a new girlfriend in Kilwillie's niece Hermione, and Paul finds that he has some admirers in the glen. Lexie wonders whether she has what it takes to be Laird after Archie leaves Glenbogle to go mountain climbing in Nepal with his sister Lizzie in honour of their late father. After Duncan's relationship with Hermione self-destructs, he and Jess begin a friendship that leads to a more serious relationship, while nearly simultaneously, Molly and Golly's long friendship, dating to the earliest years of her marriage, starts taking a turn in a new direction.
Paul becomes Laird of Glenbogle after Lexie and Archie move to New Zealand, but he falls in love with Lexie when she comes back to Glenbogle temporarily. Ewan sets up a pirate radio station in the glen, and forms a friendship with Archie's and Paul's uncle Donald, who comes back to his childhood home under a curfew order. Golly falls in love with new dancing teacher, Meg, but wonders whether he is too old to have a relationship. Jess tries to come to terms with Duncan's departure from the glen, as Molly's relationship with Golly comes to pieces. Paul tries to decide whom he really loves after new arrivals threaten a possible love interest - a new farmer, Isobel. New barmaid, Zoe, first appears in Glenbogle, catching Ewan's eye.
Paul becomes close to a local shepherdess, Iona McLean, but his romantic dreams are temporarily dashed when Iona's former fiancé arrives in the glen. Ewan wonders whether to stay with girlfriend, Zoe, when he takes a shine to Paul's goddaughter, Amy. Molly becomes a mother-like figure to Golly's new son, Cameron, after the death of Meg. Jess tries to prove herself to her father when she starts to feel that Golly does not care about her. Donald wonders whether to go to a retirement home when he starts to feel his age. Glenbogle is threatened with closure after Paul realises that the financial problems that once plagued the estate are slowly returning. The village community buys Glenbogle allowing the McDonald's to remain in the house. Paul marries Iona. At the end of the show, the main characters each end up with romantic partners and they take a photograph: Paul and Iona; Molly and Golly; Jess and Duncan; Ewan and Amy; Donald and a woman from the retirement home; and Kilwillie and the female minister. Hector appears as a ghost, talks to Molly and witnesses these events.
The following is a list of the regular cast of Monarch of the Glen who were credited in the opening credits of the show (in appearance order).
The following is a list, in order of appearance, of actors who were in three or more episodes of Monarch of the Glen as the same character but who were not credited as a regular in the opening titles of the show.
Monarch of the Glen has been released on DVD in the UK, The Netherlands, and USA only on Region 2 and 1 respectively. In the UK, series 1, 2, and 7 were released in one set, and series 3-6 in two sets - each set containing two discs. Acorn Media UK produced the original DVDs, but in 2006 a box-set featuring all seven series on 22 discs was produced by the BBC themselves. The Acorn Media UK DVDs, featured special features such as an exclusive interview with Susan Hampshire, photo galleries, production notes, and filmographies. The BBC box-set only featured a making-of show titled The Last Monarch, which was broadcast on BBC Scotland before the series finale on 23 October 2005. In The Netherlands series 4-7 were released in an edited form of 50 mins per episode instead of the UK 60 minutes.
+ Region 4 (Australia) - Series 4,5,6,7 Only available in a Compilation Boxset exclusive to the ABC Shop July 2007.
The USA Region 1 DVDs are produced by BBC Warner.
French and Saunders sketch
In 2002, the series was spoofed in popular BBC television sketch series French and Saunders for their Celebrity Christmas Puddings special and was named "Monarch of the Glum". Alastair Mackenzie himself appeared in his role of Archie. Dawn French appeared as Lexie MacDonald, Jennifer Saunders as Molly MacDonald.