FAR from being a dotty dowager, Molly - now the Second Lady of Glenbogle - has style, panache and a penchant for getting men to fall in love with her.

But that can bring its own problems to a woman who was last on the singles market 40 years ago.

"She is hugely nervous about the whole process of being 'available' again after Hector's death," says Susan Hampshire sympathetically, who has a home in the Chilterns. "She doesn't know how to cope with it and isn't at all convinced that she is doing the right thing.

"I think she is going through all the doubts that any woman of her age would have. To be single again after decades of marriage must be terribly hard. What do you do, what do you say, how do you behave - do you ever have to take your clothes off?" she laughs.

"It is so different when you've been married for a long time; you're used to each other and it almost doesn't matter what you look like because you're so familiar. So, seeing someone else is a really big deal for her at this stage in her life."

Susan is all in favour of this on-screen exploration of the romantic relationships of an older woman. "It really isn't tackled very often and yet it must happen all the time," she points out. "It is a huge shock when someone loses a long-time partner, for whatever reason.

"But your life doesn't end when there is no man in it and it doesn't mean to say you're not ready for a new one, or ready for love it can be such a huge adventure."

Viewers have certainly picked up on the post-Hector Molly and Susan has seen an increase in attention from young men.

"It has been a real surprise. They send me very nice letters and, truthfully, I don't know why," she says modestly.

"But then maybe before Hector died, they just saw her as an appendage. Curiously, since he died, people are very much more interested in her as a human being. They liked and sympathised with Molly before, but now they really want to know what is going to happen to her."

One major event is the return of Molly's prodigal daughter, Lizzie (played by Saskia Wickham). "She is a bit of a tearaway and a free spirit," Susan explains. "So Molly hasn't really seen her very much, but she does have a good relationship with her and, even more importantly, Lizze has her only grandchild."

One thing is certain, love in many guises will play a big part in Molly's life. Not only is she the object of ardent affection, but she decides that the lonely folk of Glenbogle also need a helping hand - so she sets up a dating agency.

The move has its repercussions when Andrew (played by Paul Freeman) overhears and misinterprets one of her client conversations. "When Andrew came into the story in the last series, everyone thought he was very tasty and wondered what Molly was going to do about him," smiles Susan. "Now we are exploring how she comes to terms with a real relationship and whether she can cope with it."

Coping is Susan's stock in trade. Always in demand, she managed to fit in a new adaptation of Agatha Christie's Sparkling Cyanide between series. "I play another widow, this time with a questionable son," laughs Susan, who in real life has been happily married for over 20 years.

"I'm also still busy converting a derelict barn in the Chilterns the planning permission finally came through last autumn. It's very exciting to go off into the depths of Shropshire to find special pieces of wood and old slates and I was planning to make a film about it.

"But it just hasn't been possible. I'm enjoying it very, very much - but you have to get your priorities right and at the moment my priorities are learning my lines and being here on time."

Monarch of the Glen is on BBC1 on Sundays at 8pm