Sarah Ferguson wants Aidan Turner to play lead in Mills & Boon film

Sarah Ferguson says Poldark’s Aidan Turner is her top pick to play flame-haired heroine’s Scottish lover if there’s a film adaptation of her Mills & Boon novel

  • Duchess of York released first romance novel with publisher earlier this month
  • Novel is a fictional account of life of Sarah’s great-great-aunt Lady Margaret 
  • Says Poldark heartthrob would be her choice if the book was adapted into a film 
  • Also thought James Norton and Colin Firth were good choices for Scottish lover

Sarah Ferguson has shared her top picks for the lead role in a film adaptation of her Mills & Boon romance novel – with Poldark star Aidan Turner taking the top spot. 

The Duchess of York released her book Her Heart for a Compass – inspired by the life of her great-great-aunt, Lady Margaret Montagu Douglas Scott – earlier this month. 

Set in the heart of the Victorian era, the novel focuses on the forbidden, passionate romance of flame-haired heroine Lady Margaret, who is eager to wed her Scottish lover Donald Cameron – despite her father’s disapproval. 

Despite receiving a slew of negative reviews after hitting shelves last Tuesday, Sarah, 61, has already signed another deal with publishers – and isn’t ruling out a movie adaptation of the story. 

Appearing on Loose Women today from Windsor Park, the Duchess said that while her top choice is British actor Aidan, 38, she would also be happy for Colin Firth or James Norton to play the role. 

Sarah Ferguson has shared her top picks for the lead role in a film adaptation of her Mills & Boon romance novel during an appearance on Loose Women today

the Duchess said that while her top choice is British actor Aidan Turner, 38, who is known for his role in BBC One drama Poldark 

‘I think Colin Firth is just phenomenal’, said Fergie. ‘Aidan Turner I love, James Norton but at the moment Aidan Turner takes the top spot for me, it must be said.’ 

Sarah’s new novel was co-written with romance writer Marguerite Kaye and the Duchess says their constant Zoom sessions allowed her ‘escapism’ during the pandemic. 

‘She gave me the ability to go into 1870 and this incredible journey of following your own voice and your own strength’, said Sarah.

‘She and I would work out each line. It is racy, but we leave a lot to the reader to leave up to their imagination.’ 

Set in the heart of the Victorian era, Her Heart for a Compass focuses on the forbidden, passionate romance of flame-haired heroine Lady Margaret, who is eager to wed her Scottish lover Donald Cameron – despite her father’s disapproval

The duchess spoke about the similarities between her red-headed heroine and her own life: ‘There are many parallels with my own life story which is one of the luckiest life stories there is. 

‘I’m very grateful everyday, I wake up and say I’m so lucky, I’m lucky and I turn to joy and put doubt to the back seat. There are so many parallels with my life in the book.’   

Sarah also paid tribute her ex-husband Prince Andrew, , who retired from royal duties in 2019 amid scandal over his friendship with paedophile financier Jeffrey Epstein, laughing off questions about whether there is a possibility of the pair rekindling their romance.   

‘Oh my goodness me,’ said Fergie. ‘You’re all fairytale, you all have your wands out! What I love is, Andrew and I remained steadfast in the past co-parenting and now grand-parenting. 

‘He is such a good grandfather I get some FOMO, he is so good with August, he is such a good man and it is so great to spend time with family’. 

Fergie and Andrew separated in 1992 after six years of marriage and divorced four years later, but continued to share a home at the Royal Lodge to co-parent their now adult children. 

The Duke of York became a grandfather for the first time earlier this year when daughter Princess Eugenie welcomed her first child, August, while Princess Beatrice is due to give birth later this year.  

Sarah would also be happy for Colin Firth, pictured right in Pride and Prejudice, or James Norton, pictured left in Grantchester, to play the role

Last week Sarah hailed Andrew a ‘really good father’, insisting the pair co-parented their children ‘very well’ and that it is a ‘joy’ to watch him spending time with Eugenie and her son. 

‘Prince Andrew is just such a good man, he’s a really thoroughly good man,’ she said during an appearance on Lorraine. 

‘He’s a very gentle man, he’s a really good father and we did co-parent very well, hence the reason our girls are very solid and have their feet on the ground. 

‘But now as a grandfather he’s really good, he can go for hours talking about football, and those things. It’s a joy to see him really shine as a grandfather.’ 


Donald, astride a strapping grey, slowed from a gallop to a canter as they entered the woodland. He rode well, handling the stallion with a quiet mastery without being showy about it. Beside him, Margaret’s surprised delight at his sudden appearance out of the blue had given way to a definite apprehension. This was Donald, her friend, she reminded herself, but he didn’t look like the man she imagined when she read his letters. It wasn’t only the loss of the beard; it was his smile, she decided, which had not been the chaste smile of an old friend. And the way he had kissed her hand. More perturbingly the effect that kiss had had on her senses.

As they neared the waterfall she slanted him another glance, only to find that he was doing the same. Their gazes met and the world tilted and realigned itself, for in that brief moment there was no mistaking what had passed between them. Donald dismounted. Nervously, Margaret slid off Pennygael, who led the way to the pool, the grey following her. The fresh fallen leaves were gold, chestnut, and burnished amber underfoot. The sun glinted down on the cascade, making diamonds of the curtain of water as it crashed into the pool. ‘Isn’t it entrancing?’ she asked, joining him.

‘Breathtaking,’ he agreed, turning towards her. ‘But I personally prefer this view.’ She read his intention clearly in his eyes as he reached for her, and she made no attempt to evade him as he pulled her into his arms. He was going to kiss her, and she wanted him to. Alarm bells were clanging, but only faintly as she tilted her face to his. He smelled of shaving soap and wet wool, and his coat was damp with the spray from the waterfall. She lifted her hand to his cheek and felt his sharp intake of breath at her touch. ‘Margaret,’ he said, his voice both rough and gentle at the same time. The roaring of the waterfall became a roaring in her ears as their lips met.

Fergie and Prince Andrew have been divorced for more than two decades, but their continued closeness has often prompted speculation that they would rekindle their relationship. 

She added: ‘It’s very important for anyone watching, family unity, communicate compromise, compassion – those are the three Cs that are essential.’   

Princess Eugenie and husband Jack Brooksbank welcomed their first child August Philip Hawke Brooksbank, who is 11th in line to the throne, on February 9 at London’s Portland Hospital. 

Speaking of her new grandson Sarah, 61, said that August is ‘very much like’ his dad, Jack, who is the global director of George Clooney’s tequila company, Casamigos.

‘What I love more than anything is – of course I have sisters and have daughters and I’m very good at Barbie dolls’, said Sarah. 

‘But now I’m into trains and tractors and stuff which I’m going to learn and August really is a little chap, he’s a good little chap and very much like his dad. 

‘Of course if he wants to go and play with Barbies that’s fine too, there’s no judgement, but it’s fun to learn about tractors.’   

Her Heart for a Compass sees 18-year-old Lady Margaret evoke the ire of her parents – the Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch, close friends of Queen Victoria – by rejecting the suitor they chose for her, Lord Rufus Ponsonby, the Earl of Killin, resulting in her being banished from polite society.

Lady Margaret, who hails from Dalkeith in Scotland and loves horses, then falls madly in love with a priest and, later, an older diplomat – an acquaintance of her father’s – before making a career for herself as a writer. 

And the hotly-anticipated novel is filled with racy details, such as the moment when the protagonist first sets eyes on her old friend Donald ‘astride a strapping grey’ and they find themselves in a passionate embrace.

In an extract provided exclusively to FEAMAIL, the novelist tells of the moment Lady Margaret ‘read his intention clearly in his eyes as he reached for her, and she made no attempt to evade him as he pulled her into his arms.’  

In real life, Lady Margaret married Donald Cameron of Lochiel – who was an MP and 24th chief of Clan Cameron, in 1875. They went on to have four sons, who have believed to have fought in WWII. 

Grounded in extensive historical research, the novel is a story of duty, family, love, and a woman’s yearning for freedom and independence in a strict, controlling society. 

Throughout Her Heart for a Compass, Lady Margaret’s growing confidence leads her to pursue a new life outside of the confines of her aristocratic family seat, and eventually follow her heart.

Fergie, 61, who has penned many bestselling children’s books and several works of non-fiction, said it’s a ‘dream come true’ to be a first-time novelist at the age of 61. 

Reviews have branded the book ‘boring’ and a ‘slog’ with an ‘insipid’ main character and a tone that jumps between ‘archaic and contemporary’. Almost all commented on the lack of sex and said it was at the ‘PG end’ of Mills & Boon. 

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