Outlander: Caitriona Balfe reveals her favourite season of the show, and we completely agree

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Hollie Richardson
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Outlander season 5: Caitriona Balfe.

Caitriona Balfe tells Stylist about the books she read and podcsats she listened to while filming Outlander season five, and why she’ll be tuning into Sam Heughan’s new podcast, Clan Lands

Sassenachs, we’re just days away from getting Outlander season five. The “droughtlander” is very nearly over. So what can we expect from this season? 

Caitriona Balfe, who plays Claire Fraser, recently told us that one of the biggest challenges for Clare and Jamie Fraser is becoming grandparents. “This is something we hadn’t seen before, and that kind of thing of you’re not looking after each other, you’re looking after your extended family and what that means,” Balfe explained.

We’ll also properly meet Brianna and Roger MacKenzie’s baby Jemmy, and see how the new parents adjust to their roles. Of course, this won’t be easy with the impending American Revolutionary war, which will play a massive part in the story of this season. 

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When Stylist caught up with Balfe while she was just finishing the last bit of filming last year, the actor shared her favourite book and podcast recommendations, discussed the emotions involved with filming such a long series, and revealed who’s the funniest person on set.     

What books do you read in between filming?

I could just lock myself away and just read for a month, which would be so lovely. I have a high stack of so many good books at the moment that I’m waiting to get into. Right now, I’m reading Three Women by Lisa Taddeo which is just magnificent. The fact that she’s been able to take these three women’s lives and weave it into what seems like a novel even though it’s based on reality is incredible and it teaches you so much about women and their sexuality and all of that, and I think it’s really beautiful. The next book that I want to read is The Overstory by Richard Powers. It’s a novel about a tree – I think maybe a couple of trees? – and their lives, and it just sounds amazing. 

What about podcasts?

I do like Talk Art with Russell Tovey. I listen to that quite a bit because it’s good, short interviews with artists. I haven’t quite got on the whole serialised podcast thing that everyone seems to be on. If they’re too in-depth and if they go on for too long, I end up daydreaming and I’ll find myself 10 minutes into a podcast and I’ll realise I’ve missed half of it. That’s why I can’t do audiobooks at all. It kind of exists over here in my brain and I’m like on the opposite side in some other world.

Sam Heughan’s Clan Lands is coming out soon. The fact that he and Graham McTravish have travelled around Scotland together, and they’re both the most ridiculous human beings – it’s going to be prime fodder for me. I’m looking forward to that.

Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan in Outlander
Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan in Outlander.

Are you a really tight group on set?

We are actually, all of the cast. That’s been one of the great things about this show since day one, and we’ve had a lot of people come in and out but all the actors are bloody awesome and just great people and we all get along and hang out and it’s created a really lovely family atmosphere.

Who’s the biggest joker on set while filming?

I don’t know about joker, but we all kind of mess around a lot. Maybe Lauren Lyle (who plays Marsali MacKimmie Fraser). We’re all stupid and keep ourselves entertained. I think casting director Suzanne Smith has a really canny knack for finding likeminded people and casting them together because we all have a very childish sense of humour that works well together.

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How do you celebrate reaching the end of filming?

You start off seasons on such a high and everyone does a little bit of a dip in the middle because you’re like ‘oh God, we still have so long to go’, but it’s that thing when you come to the end and we’re really proud of this season, it’s very strong. Setting up the new world of America last year was a little bit difficult in some places for us, and we’ve found our footing now again in this season. The characters and storyline all feel very strong. It’s exciting! We went to ComiCon again which was great. I think anytime you get to go see the fans, meet with them and feel their excitement and enthusiasm, it always reinvigorates you.

What’s been your favourite series so far?

It’s difficult to choose, but it’s hard to beat season one, just because it was so new and exciting and everything. But I also loved the first half of season three – being in the 60s, the story with Frank, being separated from Jamie and coming back together. It just gave me so many beautiful things to play. As an acting challenge that was my favourite stuff… but you can’t beat season one.

And what’s your favourite Claire one-liner across the whole series?

“You can go fuck yourself!” I think she said it to Dougal. I mean, it’s always good when you get to curse in a posh English accent. Just feels extra naughty.

Watch the trailer for Outlander season five

Outlander returns on 16 February 2020.

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Hollie Richardson

Hollie is a digital writer at, mainly covering the daily news on women’s issues, politics, celebrities and entertainment. She also keeps an ear out for the best podcast episodes to share with readers. Oh, and don’t even get her started on Outlander…

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