The 43-year-old’s new on-screen dialect was dubbed “excruciating” by viewers.
Fans were left asking why the Dumfries-shire-born star – best known for playing hunky 18th-century Highlander Jamie Fraser in the hit series Outlander – couldn’t keep his Scottish accent in Channel 4’s The Couple Next Door.
The highly anticipated series – which hit the screens last week – is about a couple who develop a fast friendship with their new neighbours when they move to an idyllic Leeds suburb, which soon takes some unexpected and sinister turns – with armed gangs, swinging sexual encounters and suspected major drug dealing all thrown into the mix.
Sam takes on the gritty role of one of the neighbours and a devilishly handsome motorcycle cop called Danny – but, by some, his Northern twang was dubbed anything but attractive.
One Twitter user said: “Why on earth didn’t they keep Sam Heughan’s proper accent? The fake Yorkshire is excruciating”, with another adding: “Not sure what to make of it… I can’t get Sam Heughan coming over all Gary Barlow with the accent.”
One disgruntled fan added: “Why could they not leave Sam Heughan’s accent alone?”, and another said: “Now, I met him at work and he’s got an incredibly sexy Scottish accent but he’s pretending to be from Yorkshire, which some people might find hot but to me he sounds like every lad I grew up with.
“What a waste. Good show though.”
But, plenty of fans were quick to jump to the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama graduate’s defence, with one posting “Sam Heughan is more than his accent. It appears some critics want to keep Sam locked into the ‘pretty boy’ box and can’t get past his physical appearance.
“Thank goodness the director knows better.”
Speaking at a press junket, ahead of its release, the actor admitted his character’s accent was the most challenging part of the role, rather than the sex scenes or speeding the streets on a motorbike.
He said: “For me, the accent was a new one. I was doing a northern or Leeds accent, but we were filming in Belgium and the Netherlands mostly, so you have a lot of very different accents in your ear. For me, that was quite challenging.”
But, he got through it because of the team around him.
He added: “We worked very closely so every day we’d sit down and work through the scenes and overcome the challenges, but that’s why we enjoyed it so much, it felt very collaborative.”
Outwith Starz series Outlander, Sam has most recently got a few movies under his belt, including starring in this year’s Love Me Again opposite Hollywood actress Priyanka Chopra Jonas and singing diva Celine Dion, as well The Spy Who Dumped Me and Bloodshot.