Phyllis Logan interview: ‘Downton’ star on returning to ‘Guilt’ for final season

Guilt is back and Phyllis Logan is reprising her role as Maggie!

Created by The Gold writer Neil Forsyth, BBC Two’s Scottish thriller series first aired back in 2019 and recently returned with a third season.

The final chapter of the trilogy finds brothers Max and Jake (Mark Bonnar and Jamie Sives) reunited, but with enemies old and new causing them to seek ever more desperate solutions to their problems.

Digging deep into their past, Max and Jake hope to finally find a future free of danger… and each other.

All four brand new episodes are streaming now on BBC iPlayer, and Season 3 will air in the US later this year on PBS Masterpiece.

American viewers can catch up on the first two seasons with this free 7-day trial of the PBS Masterpiece channel on Amazon Prime!

Best known for her role as Mrs Hughes in Downton Abbey, Scottish actress Phyllis Logan made her Guilt debut in the second season.

Here the star chats about returning as Maggie, filming in Scotland, and winning a BAFTA…


Are you happy to be back as Maggie?

“Yes, absolutely! Because I was a fan of the show from watching the first series. I wasn’t in it but I just loved it. It was so exciting to be asked to then come and play Maggie. And then for it to go to a third series and to be reprising the role was just a joy.”


Do you like playing a criminal mastermind? What makes Maggie such an appealing character to play?

“It’s quite out of my usual playing range. So yes, it’s always nice to do something different. I suppose she is a bit of a mastermind.

“For me, it’s nice to play a bit mean! That’s always fun to do.

“Also Maggie’s quite funny as well. It’s all in the writing, of course, because Neil Forsyth is just a bit of a genius. He just writes so beautifully and so you get the humour through of all the main characters. But it’s great fun to be a meanie.”


With the huge critical success of Guilt, and your own BAFTA for your role, tell us a bit about how it’s been working on a Scottish production?

“That was an added bonus to doing the job because it meant going up to Scotland. The first time I did it, there were still a lot of restrictions going on.

“So, it could have been quite bleak if it weren’t for the work! I was stuck in a hotel room when I wasn’t working, having to stay away from home so that was quite challenging.

“But because the playing this part and working with all the wonderful crew – a lot of whom I’ve worked with in the past – it was like a big old family. That was nice.

“And to come back and do the third series when all the restrictions were lifted, it just gave it an added boost. To be back in the role of Maggie and be able to go out and mix with everyone properly again was so nice. We had great fun on set.”


What have the reactions been since your role in Guilt?

“It’s been so positive. It’s been funny with my family seeing me and saying “you’re a bit of a b-word, aren’t you?”

“But, you’d like to think with each character you play, there’s something of yourself in there and I could also relate to characters back in my childhood, who had a nip to them. Some people are funny and sort of cruel but kind at the same time.”


Did you enjoy returning to Scotland to film Guilt? Any memorable moments on set?

“Being back up in Scotland was like a bit of a party. Like when I was doing Downton Abbey, for example, and we’d all get back together after a gap of maybe six months. It was the same here.

“We were all back and it was mostly the same crew, so it was just like getting together with the family again, it was really nice.

“This time, during filming I was able to see my sister, who lives down on the coast and have dinner at friends’ houses in Glasgow. So that was a difference and it was lovely. And then of course, the BAFTA Awards happened in the middle of production so that was all very exciting.

“On set, my abiding memories were how much of a joy it was working with everybody. Just getting to say those words of Neil Forsyth was amazing.

“I can go on too much about this, because it’s just a gift. What he gave us all from these scripts was incredible. Also watching Mark and Jamie at work was brilliant.

“They have great fun together. They are like brothers – naughty brothers. They’re just terrific and you can tell they just love each other and take great joy from playing these characters.

“Being on set with everyone was just brilliant fun. I do remember with Jamie and Mark, when I’d have to exit out of a scene, I’d be in the background, watching them continue with it.

“I’d just be stifling laughter really, because they’re so funny, the pair of them together. And the dialogue is so great, and they perform it so well. You do have to control yourself not to burst out laughing and ruin everything.”


Does it feel like an exciting role – having turned the initial image of Maggie on its head in the last series?

“I was quite stunned, because I felt that at the end of the last series, Maggie’s probably going to be banged up in prison by now!

“So when they asked me to do the next season I was so surprised! I was imagining all sorts of scenarios and it wasn’t like that at all, which was great. It’s always nice to shock people or surprise them, at least.”


What is it about Max and Jake which makes them Maggie’s arch enemies?

“I suppose because Maggie just sees them as being idiots. The idea that this pair of idiots could get one over on her is just doing her in. It just doesn’t compute.”


Maggie gradually emerged as a real force in this story. Now she’s firmly in the seat of power, what can the audience expect from her?

“There are quite a few surprises to come. As far as Maggie is concerned, many a person might have just hung up their boots in the underworld of crime in Edinburgh and said, I’ve had enough.

“But no, she’s game for everything and she’s in a position where she has to do something about it. Things aren’t as rosy as they might have been for Maggie and she wants to carry on the legacy of her crime family, as it were.

“I think the audience can expect another few shocks along the way. Don’t rule her out altogether. She’s not down and out entirely!”


Guilt is available to watch on Amazon Prime Video.