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Monarch of the Glen (TV series)

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Monarch of the Glen
Created byMichael Chaplin
StarringAlastair Mackenzie
Dawn Steele
Susan Hampshire
Lloyd Owen
Richard Briers
Alexander Morton
Hamish Clark
Julian Fellowes
Lorraine Pilkington
Martin Compston
Rae Hendrie
Tom Baker
Hermione Gulliford
Theme music composerSimon Brint with Kenny G
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original languageEnglish
No. of series7
No. of episodes64 (list of episodes)
Executive producersBarbara McKissack
Douglas Rae
Victoria Evans
Robert Bernstein
Gaynor Holmes
Running time50 mins. (series 1–3)
60 mins. (series 4–7)
Original release
NetworkBBC One
Release27 February 2000 (2000-02-27) –
23 October 2005 (2005-10-23)

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 February 2000 and October 2005 with 64 episodes in total.

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. The final two series focused on new Laird Paul Bowman trying to modernise the estate, primarily starring Lloyd Owen, Tom Baker, Alexander Morton and Susan Hampshire.

The 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 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. Filming took between six and eight months per series in the Badenoch and Strathspey area of the Scottish Highlands, in particular at Ardverikie House, which was the location for the fictional "Glenbogle House".

In September 2023, the series was made permanently available on BBC iPlayer.[1]

Series synopses


Series 1

Ardverikie House depicts Glenbogle House in Monarch of the Glen.

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, as his father Hector is dying. When he arrives, he finds that the news was a ploy by his mother, Molly, to get him to Scotland. He learns he has inherited his father's title and estate, Laird of 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 begins a complicated friendship. The feisty staff of Glenbogle — Lexie, Golly and Duncan — also prove hard to handle. Archie negotiates a deal with the bank and tries to find ways out of debt. Pressured by Justine to return to London, he decides to sell his share in the London restaurant and stay on at Glenbogle. Justine relents and decides to join Archie.

Series 2


After his split with Justine, Archie finally knows where his future lies - at Glenbogle. developing a relationship with Katrina, Archie faces obstacles: with his new Head Ranger, Fergal MacClure who is also attracted to Katrina, and with Lexie, who has her eye on the Laird. Hector and Molly face problems as their daughter Lizzie comes, apparently pregnant, to Glenbogle with her healer boyfriend and his acolytes. Hector visits an old flame to try to get the trails on the estate approved by the local council. Golly faces a battle with Fergal to keep Duncan as his friend and assistant because Duncan is very taken with outward bounds activities over the fieldsport traditions of the estate and Fergal's charismatic enthusiasm. Fergal falls for Katrina but is offered a job in New Zealand when his work establishing the trails at Glenbogle ends. He asks Katrina to go with him, and she leaves because Archie will not state his love for her. Archie chases her train but discovers from Fergal that she has already disembarked. He finds her on the estate and they kiss.

Series 3


Glenbogle's debts are mounting, 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 following her success on the local Council. Duncan also faces romantic problems. Molly is upset that Hector is spending more time with his chum Kilwillie than with her. Golly is reunited with his daughter after many years (he had wanted to marry her mother, but she had left him). Local entrepreneur Stuart McIntosh tries to take land from under the MacDonalds' feet. The estate is now turning a profit and Stella is offered a job in South America provided the estate passes inspection by the bank's chief at the Midsummer's Ball. Stella tries to sabotage the event in an attempt to stay at Glenbogle with Archie, but she fails. The bank's chair returns control of the estate to Archie, who realises he's in love with Lexie, and proposes to her in the kitchen. Initially, Lexie says no but then changes into a red ball dress and meets Archie on the terrace and says yes. The engagement causes friction between Archie and Hector, who disapproves of the match because he fears Lexie may feel trapped on the estate and leave Archie — as Molly once left him. This information is never relayed to Archie, because Hector dies suddenly. Lexie wants to delay the wedding as it is mere weeks after the funeral but Archie insists it go ahead. Lexie runs off. Archie and the estate team track her down and he agrees they should postpone their marriage.

Series 4


Lexie struggles to become the new Lady of Glenbogle after her marriage to Archie, but tries to continue some of her old duties, especially cooking. When Archie hires a new cook, Lexie becomes upset and jealous, and insists on a cook-off, using an old, relatively unknown Scottish recipe. She does not know that the new cook, Irene, has been the chef of a large Highland hotel, and that this particular recipe was one of her specialities. Molly tries 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 Paul Bowman-MacDonald 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. They also discover that he is AWOL from the British Army. Molly tries to be welcoming to Paul, realising that being illegitimate is not his fault, and that he was not aware of his parentage 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 is horrified to find that Irene is pregnant by the husband she has run away from. Archie must deal with his father's astronomical death duties. Lexie's mother offers to pay these off as a wedding gift but Lexie refuses out of pride. Briefly, Molly considers marrying Killwillie to get them out of the financial hole, but money is found at the last minute.

Series 5


Glenbogle's financial problems are over, and Archie starts to become bored. Looking for a new challenge he considers running a restaurant owned by Kilwillie - in New York. Lexie is not keen. Paul returns to Glenbogle to start afresh but is treated badly. He wants to start an Outward Bound centre on the estate but the locals do not want city youths visiting. A compromise is eventually found when Lexie suggests they offer first turn at the new activity centre to local youth. 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, but she is very bossy. 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 discovers that Hermione hid the contents of a job acceptance letter from him, he ends the relationship. He and Jess begin a friendship that leads to a more serious relationship. When Molly discovers that Andrew has proposed to many women and painted them all wearing his mother's engagement ring, she realises she cannot trust him. She takes a holiday and, when she returns, her long friendship with Golly — dating to the earliest years of her marriage — takes a turn in a new direction.

Series 6


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, who has joined the estate as cook, sets up a pirate radio station in the glen. He forms a friendship with Archie's and Paul's uncle Donald, who comes back to his childhood home under a curfew order. Clearly, there is bad feeling between Molly and Donald. It later emerges that he had propositioned her whilst she was married and when she refused to run off with him, he left the estate - and his brother - never to speak to Hector again. Molly is not forthcoming with Golly and when Jess sets her father up, Golly falls in love with new dancing teacher, Meg. He wonders whether he is too old to have a relationship with her but they appear to enjoy one another. Duncan starts the series about to propose to Jess, but is discouraged from this by her comments. He later finds a talent for radio via Ewan's programme, but to get more experience decides to apply for a job with hospital radio in the city. Jess tries to come to terms with Duncan's departure from the glen. Molly is disconcerted by Golly's new relationship and backs away. Paul tries to persuade Lexie to stay at Glenbogle with him, but despite their attraction, Lexie takes Molly's advice - and the story of Hector and Donald's parting to heart. She leaves for New Zealand to join Archie. A city-worker-turned-farmer, Isobel, arrives, and her problems distract Paul.

Series 7


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 (who never regained consciousness after giving birth). 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 MacDonalds to remain in the house Paul marries Iona At the end of the show, the main characters each have a romantic partner 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.



Regular cast


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).

Actor Character Series Recurring No. of episodes (/64)
Richard Briers Hector MacDonald Series 1–3 Series 7 28
Susan Hampshire Molly MacDonald Series 1–7 59
Alastair Mackenzie Archie MacDonald Series 1–5 43
Lorraine Pilkington Katrina Finlay Series 1–2 Series 3–4 18
Alexander Morton Golly Mackenzie Series 1–7 64
Dawn Steele Lexie MacDonald Series 1–6 51
Hamish Clark Duncan McKay Series 1–6 Series 7 53
Julian Fellowes Lord Kilwillie Series 3–4 Series 1–2, 5, 7 24
Alexandra Gilbreath Stella Moon Series 3 9
Rebecca Lacey Irene Stuart Series 4 8
Lloyd Owen Paul Bowman-MacDonald Series 5–7 Series 4 28
Simone Lahbib Isobel Anderson Series 6 10
Martin Compston Ewan Brodie Series 6–7 Series 5 20
Rae Hendrie Jess Mackenzie Series 5–7 Series 3 25
Tom Baker Donald MacDonald Series 6–7 12
Kirsty Mitchell Iona McLean Series 7 6

Recurring roles


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.

Actor Character Series No. of episodes (/64)
Anna Wilson-Jones Justine Series 1–2 6
Carole Cassidy Maureen MacLean Series 1–2 4
Simon Slater Lancelot Fleming Series 1–2 3
Paul Goodwin Alan Smythe Series 1 4
Ralph Riach Geordie McCann Series 1–2 2
Jason O'Mara Fergal MacClure Series 2 6
Jenny Lee Liz Logan Series 3–5 4
Gavin Mitchell PC Callum McIntyre Series 3, 5–6 8
Angus Lennie Badger Series 4–5 4
Paul Freeman Andrew Booth Series 4–5 11
Richenda Carey Lady Dorothy Trumpington-Bonnet Series 5 5
Hermione Gulliford Hermione Trumpington-Bonnet Series 5 4
John Yule Dougal Raeburn Series 5–6 3
Sara Stewart Amanda MacLeish Series 5 3
Donald Douglas Dr. Gordon McKendrick Series 6–7 3
Kari Corbett Zoe Series 6–7 6
Karen Westwood Meg Paterson Series 6 5
Lucy Akhurst Lucy Ford Series 6 4
Anthony Head Chester Grant Series 6 4
Rhianna and Katelyn Duff Cameron Mackenzie Series 7 5
Antony Strachan Frank Series 7 4


Glenbogle station sign at Broomhill.
Balavil House which was used as Kilwillie Castle

While the fictional Glenbogle estate in Compton Mackenzie's Highland novels place the estate near Ben Nevis,[2] the series is filmed in and around the Cairngorms, Badenoch and Strathspey, with Ben Nevis replaced by the fictional Ben Bogle.

Ardverikie House, designed by John Rhind in 1870 and built in the Scottish baronial style, depicts Glenbogle Castle in Monarch of the Glen, while location filming took place in Kingussie and Laggan and scenes involving the loch use Loch Laggan. The majority of the programme was filmed on and around the Ardverikie Estate situated on the South-East bank of Loch Laggan. Glenbogle Station was filmed at Broomhill railway station, near Nethy Bridge. This station is the terminus of the Strathspey Railway, a restored steam railway.

The River Pattack just up from the Ardverikie Estate was used several times. Glenbogle Church is the Cille Choirille Church near Roy Bridge. Lord Kilwillie's Castle is Balavil House, off the A9 road 2 miles north-east of Kingussie.[3]

Broadcast history


Seven series were filmed, totaling 64 episodes (including a Hogmanay Special). The series was broadcasting internationally 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.[4] Monarch of the Glen was Australia's most popular BBC drama in 2002 and 2003.[4]

Monarch of the Glen was broadcast in the United Kingdom on Sunday evenings on BBC One, usually at 20.00 GMT. British ratings in the first five series were high, but 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.[5]

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 saw the return of Richard Briers, Hamish Clark and Julian Fellowes[6] as promised by the BBC, but the reunion did not include Archie or Lexie.

Series No. of episodes Episode runtime Series premiere Series finale Average viewers
(in millions)
Average share
(in percentage)
1 8 50 minutes 27 February 2000 16 April 2000 8.0 26.0
2 8 50 minutes 7 January 2001 25 February 2001 7.6 26.5
3 11 50 minutes 28 October 2001 20 January 2002 6.9 25.7
4 10 60 minutes 1 September 2002 3 November 2002 7.2 29.1
5 10 60 minutes 28 September 2003 30 November 2003 7.2§ Unknown
Hogmanay Special 1 60 minutes 28 December 2003 28 December 2003 6.3 Unknown
6 10 60 minutes 19 September 2004 21 November 2004 5.3 TBA
7 6 60 minutes 18 September 2005 23 October 2005 5.8 TBA

§ Unconfirmed.

DVD releases


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.

To date there has been no HD or Blu-ray release.

DVD series
Release dates
Region 2
Region 1
Region 4
Series 1 27 December 2002 16 September 2003 12 November 2003
Series 2 5 May 2003 4 May 2004 3 February 2005
Series 3 6 October 2003 17 May 2005 4 May 2006
Series 4 29 December 2003 16 May 2006 15 April 2010
Series 5 27 December 2004 24 October 2006 Box set only - see above +
Series 6 10 October 2005 15 May 2007 Box set only - see above +
Series 7 3 April 2006 23 October 2007 Box set only - see above +
Series 1-7 24 October 2006 23 October 2007 July 2007 (box set compilation only +)

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.

See also



  1. ^ "Monarch of the Glen".
  2. ^ MacKenzie, Sir Compton (October 2015). Monarch of the Glen. Random House, 1 Oct 2015 (Originally 1941). ISBN 9781473522190. Retrieved 30 January 2016. It was the Lady of Ben Nevis among his immediate entourage who first ventured ...
  3. ^ Scotland Movie Guide's Monarch of the Glen listing, accessed 15 October 2017
  4. ^ a b Monarch of the Glen returns for a sixth series on BBC ONE BBC, 21 November 2003. Retrieved 13 January 2007.
  5. ^ BBC boggled by number of Boglies Juliette Garside, The Sunday Herald, 1 September 2002. Retrieved 12 January 2007
  6. ^ Faces from Monarch's past BBC, 24 March 2005. Retrieved 12 January 2007.