These days, English actor Tom Brittney is best-known for playing Will Davenport on the PBS mystery series Grantchester. But before he became a crime-solving vicar, Brittney had a small but memorable role in Outlander. He played a British soldier who tried to help Claire (Catriona Balfe) in the show’s first season and was later killed by Dougal MacKenzie (Graham McTavish) in the season 2 episode “Prestonpans.”
Tom Brittney played Lieutenant Jeremy Foster in ‘Outlander’
Brittney appeared in two Outlander Season 1 episodes, “Rent” and “The Garrison Commander.” He portrayed Lieutenant Jeremy Foster, an English soldier who encounters Claire as she is traveling with Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan), Dougal, and the other Scottish clansmen as they collect rent payments for Clan MacKenzie.
In “Rent,” Claire clashes with Dougal when she tries to return a goat to a woman who needs its milk to feed her baby. That prompts Brittney’s character to intervene, asking if she needs help. He backs off, but he shows up again at the end of the episode, this time with his fellow Redcoats, determined to find out if the Scots are holding Claire against her will.
Claire assures him she’s fine, but in the next episode, Foster insists she accompany him to the garrison at Brockton, where she again encounters Black Jack Randall (Tobias Menzies).
Dougal MacKenzie killed Lieutenant Foster in ‘Prestonpans’
Lieutenant Foster shows up again in Outlander Season 2 when he encounters Dougal on the battlefield in “Prestonpans.” An injured Foster tells Dougal that the Scots have “won a great victory today,” but they cannot possibly hope to win their fight against the British Army. In response, Dougal murders him in cold blood.
In a 2016 interview with Access, Brittney talked about his brief but memorable return to Outlander in season 2.
“It was pretty much come in, chuck on my old uniform, mess up my wig, cover me in a bit of muck and mud and blood and [set] me down, and you could see that my character, Lieutenant Foster, has injured his leg, so he’s obviously done a bit of battling. But, no I didn’t film any battle scenes. It was just straight to the death,” Brittney said.
Tom Brittney was thrilled he got to return to ‘Outlander’ for one more episode
Brittney told Access that it was all thanks to the Outlander’s fans that his character returned in season 2.
“When I originally auditioned for it, it was two episodes … I never imagined the reaction that I would get from those first two episodes,” the actor said. “And then for them to bring me back — and it’s all thanks to the fans, that’s all thanks to the fact that it somehow… created such a reaction in the fans that [the producers] felt that they could bring me back — to kill me.”
“The reaction from my death was worth it I think,” he added. “And in terms of the episode as a whole, I think it served the whole of the battle. And the tragedy of losing Angus, and stuff like that — obviously that’s far more important than Foster, but in terms of the pure brutality of that 15-minute battle — no one was safe.”
Brittney joined the ‘Grantchester’ cast in 2019
A few years after his Outlander character met his bloody end, Brittney joined the Grantchester cast in the show’s fourth season. He had big shoes to fill, replacing series star James Norton, who had decided to leave the period drama.
While not all Grantchester viewers were initially thrilled with the transition, Will soon became a fan-favorite character. They can look forward to seeing more of him when show’s sixth season premieres Oct. 3 on PBS. The upcoming episodes will see Will and his detective friend Geordie Keating (Robson Green) investigating more crimes in their bucolic English village. There’s also a new love interest for Will, who gave up on his vow of celibacy in season 5. However, things don’t exactly go smoothly for him in the romance department.
“It all comes crashing down in quite a dramatic fashion,” Brittney said of his relationship with a woman he meets while on vacation (via Express). “I think that maybe puts me off with the idea for a bit.”
Grantchester Season 6 premieres Sunday, Oct. 3 at 9 p.m. ET on PBS.
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