Kellyanne feeling like a queen with Monarch role

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IT'S been a busy time for the residents of Glenbogle in recent years. With fairytale marriages, heart-wrenching deaths and the endless struggle to revive the fortunes of the old Scottish estate, there has never been a dull moment in the picturesque village.

But while the Macdonald clan will be hoping for a happy ending to the trials and tribulations they have faced, for millions of viewers across the globe it will be a teary farewell when the show ends in a few months. With the seventh, and final, series due to start this weekend, it will be a swansong for Molly, Paul, Golly and the Glenbogle gang - the colourful characters that have become a regular feature of Sunday night TV.

Pompous aristocrat Kilwillie, loveable ghillie Duncan and even the old laird Hector - appearing as a ghost from the past - will all be delighting old and new fans alike.

But among the many old faces returning to the loch, will be a new addition to the fold. In her first major screen role, 22-year-old Livingston actress Kellyanne Farquhar will burst on to the Glenbogle scene as feisty tearaway Amy McDougal.

And the young actress, who trained at Queen Margaret's University College in Edinburgh, admits that life has been a little hectic since she first auditioned for the part.

"It's just been a complete whirlwind really," she enthuses. "Earlier this year, I was working in the McArthurGlen centre in Livingston and had no idea that I would ever be doing something like this.

"Even when I auditioned for the role, I didn't think I'd ever get it. I just remember thinking that I'd totally messed it up and that they'd never choose me over all the other people that must have applied.

"I was gobsmacked when they invited me back for a second audition, but even then I had no idea what would happen. When they eventually phoned me at work and asked if I wanted to do it, I just wanted to scream and cry and tell everybody I knew. It was such an unbelievable feeling.

"All of my family are big Monarch of the Glen fans so they're all thrilled to bits that I'm going to be in it. When I phoned to tell them that I'd got the part, my aunt just screamed down the phone. She was so excited she couldn't actually form any words.

"As far as she is concerned I've hit the big time, I'm famous and nothing else I ever do will mean as much to her as this."

She admits that although she felt nervous about playing Amy, the runaway goddaughter of Glenbogle laird Paul Macdonald, she soon settled into life on the famous set. Spending most of her scenes acting alongside Sweet Sixteen star Martin Compston, who plays cheeky chef Ewan in the series, she says they had hours of fun messing about as the two young characters.

"It was really nice to have someone my own age there, and Martin was fantastic. He's a great actor, but also a really nice guy and we hit it off straight away. I was pretty nervous at first, but he was really good at helping me feel relaxed in front of the cameras and crew. In the end, we treated it as a big game and just messed about so much.

"Because Amy and Ewan are both really cheeky, fun-loving characters, there's a bond straight away between them. She's a feisty wee thing that's always up to something a little bit naughty and he finds her fascinating - even though she seems to drop him in it and mostly leaves him take the blame for things that have been her fault.

"I was just so relieved that me and Martin got on so well, because I think that it will really show when we're on screen together."

She adds: "Everyone else was really nice too. I thought that I'd be quite star-struck and nervous, but it didn't really happen. I did scenes with Lloyd Owen [Paul] and Susan Hampshire [Molly], as well as some of the cast members who had been in the earlier series, which was a bit overwhelming at first.

"But Lloyd was just like a big dad to everyone and Susan was really lovely. She'd always be giving me bits of advice and was just so kind and generous right from the moment I arrived on set. It was just a great place to work."

It's all a long way from the acting career that Kellyanne was pursuing before she got her big break. After spending three years with the Scottish Youth Theatre, where she played lead roles including Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, she took a place at QMUC where she studied for a degree in acting.

"I absolutely loved it. I got to perform in some of the smaller theatres such as the Gateway, so it was a really good grounding to have as an actor.

"We did a lot of varied stage work and most of our training was focused on performing on stage. We did a little bit of TV, but it wasn't anything particularly big. Well," she laughs, "not quite as big as what I'm doing now anyway."

Such is the lot of actors, though, that Kellyanne, who has just finished filming, has no idea what will happen next and just hopes that the show will help her to get more TV or film work - although she says that she doesn't want to be typecast by her Monarch role.

"I'd love to do a gangster film doing action scenes and fights," she says. "You know loads of rolling over car bonnets and kung fu kicks and stuff. Something totally different to this and something you'd never get to do in Monarch of the Glen.

"But at the moment, I'm just taking it easy and I have no idea what I'm going to be doing in a few months time. After the show is broadcast, who knows what's going to happen."

When her first appearance in the new series - in episode two - is broadcast next weekend, she will be watching with her family, including her brother Michael, with whom she shares a flat and her mum and dad, Liz and Mick, who also live in Livingston.

"They're all really looking forward to it," she says. "And I know that all the rest of my family are big fans, so they're going to be taping all the episodes I'm in.

"It's pretty scary stuff, really. They're all even more excited about seeing it than I am."

But although Kellyanne admits that the thought of being recognised by the show's many avid fans is a daunting prospect - as is the idea of watching herself acting alongside the show's famous faces - she says that nothing will be as nerve-wracking as the romantic scenes she had to do for the cameras.

"Although Amy and Ewan don't fall head over heels for each other at the start, they do end up kissing and I was really nervous about that as it was the first romantic scenes I'd ever had to do.

"I just kept thinking that millions of people were going to be watching and I got really nervous about it, but Martin was really cool about the whole thing. He turned it into a really light-hearted situation and we just got on with it, really.

"However, I've not seen any of the programmes yet so I'm dreading watching it when it get screened.

"I just hope I'll be able to sit through them without getting too embarrassed."

• Monarch of the Glen is on BBC1 on Sunday at 8pm

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