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It is a description that Heughan gives short shrift to. It is not just a romance drama: it is historical, has time travel and sci-fi aspects. It is a very good story with great characters and I think that once people watch the first few episodes they will be hooked." Born in New Galloway, Dumfries and Galloway, Heughan spent his teenage years in Edinburgh cutting his teeth among the youth ranks of the Royal Lyceum Theatre before going on to study at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (now the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland) in Glasgow.

"I think the New York Times should watch it again," he says, dryly. In contrast to the honed, chiselled physique which leaves his fan base drooling, Heughan describes himself as "probably quite fat" as a child. "I spent a lot of time running about outdoors with a wooden stick pretending it was a sword," he says.

"They did all these chemistry tests and I flew out to Los Angeles a few times and we tested there and in London.

"They couldn't find the right girl and then Caitriona came along and it just seemed to work.

It's a curious juxtaposition but one which Heughan seems fairly relaxed about.

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He is coy regarding the status of his love life off-screen ("I might be," is his response when asked whether he's in a relationship).Devotees include the Heughligans, a group which was 35,000 strong at the last count and continues to grow."The Heughligans are just one part of it," he interjects. There is the Caitriots and the Menziatics [fans of fellow actors Balfe and Tobias Menzies]." Others include the Outlandish Bakers who rustle up sweet treats for the cast and crew.Heughan is clearly happier talking about how the fortunes of the characters evolve."It gets a lot darker and it doesn't end well for everyone," he says, with cryptic aplomb.When it was my birthday they sent to the studios the most enormous cake that was shaped like Craigh na Dun [standing stones] and had Jamie and Claire on the top." Heughan shares an electric onscreen chemistry with Balfe and it transpires he had a hand in casting the Dublin-born former model.

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