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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.
"I was very lucky to [screen] test with everyone they looked at for the role of Claire," he says.
Unsurprisingly, Heughan has the air of a man still pinching himself at his turn of good fortune.
"There is always a part of me which is waiting for someone to knock on the door and say: 'Get out' or 'you owe us for all those clothes we've been letting you wear,'" he admits.
"The show has been well received but it is always odd when people recognise you in America or at airports and come up to you. "So far people have been really delightful when they do recognise me." Gabaldon's Outlander novels started appearing in 1991 and the eight-book series has since sold more than 26 million copies.
The young man was wearing a kilt, which Gabaldon thought was "rather fetching." Heughan plays charismatic Highlander Jamie Fraser in the series which charts the adventures of Claire Randall, a former Second World War nurse played by Irish actor Caitriona Balfe.
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.
"It is very sweet that they think that and the job has certainly brought us closer," he says.
"We didn't want to make any preconceptions about the relationship and where they go in it.