JACKIE Bird’s Love Scotland podcast has returned for its sixth season – with the first episode featuring an interview with best-selling Outlander author Diana Gabaldon.

Previous editions of the podcast, produced by the National Trust for Scotland, have featured stories and histories from Scotland’s past.

Bird began hosting the series after becoming president of the charity and around 20,000 people a month download it.

The podcast focuses on locations run by the trust, focusing on Scottish stories and culture.

Bird, a former Children in Need presenter, said: “Bringing the incredible stories of Scotland’s heritage to new audiences and sharing the rich history of the people and places of the National Trust for Scotland is a huge joy and privilege.

“It has been fantastic to see the podcast grow and develop, and I hope listeners are as thrilled as I am with the new series.

“I’m thrilled to kickstart the sixth season of Love Scotland with none other than Diana Gabaldon to hear the in-depth story of her ties to Scotland, and how it inspired her world-famous Outlander book series. It is an episode filled with emotion and Diana’s sentimentality for Scotland.

“From James VI to Raeburn, we are exploring some of Scotland’s most famous people and places, resulting in a fascinating line-up of episodes to come.”

The first episode of season six will feature Gabaldon on the same day the latest Outlander series is released and will focus on the author’s inspiration for the Outlander book series and connections to Scotland.  

Outlander stars Sam Heughan as Jamie and Caitriona Balfe as Claire.

Gabaldon’s books have been read by more than 50 million people worldwide and her commitment to Scottish heritage saw the author awarded a Great Scot award in 2022.

She said: “The only thing I like more than talking about Scotland is being there.

“When I was writing Outlander I read everything I could get my hands on that was written by Scottish authors to get a feeling for the speech.

“The Outlander effect is quite incredible; things happen that you never think of or expect.”

Series six of Love Scotland includes a deep dive into the "unknown early years of James VI".