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August 30, 2013

Downton Abbey Extras - a video, car chases, zombies and vampires



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VETERAN actress Phyllis Logan reckons Downton Abbey’s continuing success is down to people being fed up with “car chases, zombies and vampires”.

The 57-year-old, from Paisley, has played busybody housekeeper Mrs Hughes in Downton from the start and is back for the fourth series, which starts next month.
She describes the period drama, which has become a hit in the UK and America, as an “upmarket soap” that has become popular as a way of escaping for viewers dealing with the economic recession.
Phyllis said: “They want to go back to old times. Maybe that happens in times of austerity – people want to hark back to what they perceive as being a golden age. I mean it wasn’t, it was s*** but it’s made to look lovely in Downton.
“Downton is an upmarket soap. I shouldn’t say that but it is, with nice costumes and an incredible attention to detail. You don’t see so much of that nowadays, well, certainly with modern drama.
“I think maybe people are getting fed up with car chases, zombies and vampires.”
Written by Julian Fellowes and starring Hugh Bonneville, Dame Maggie Smith, Brendan Coyle and Michelle Dockery, the series follows the Crawley family and their servants in the post-Edwardian era and the goings-on at their Yorkshire country estate of Downton Abbey.
It’s now watched in more than 100 countries and has made many of the cast famous on both sides of the pond. But not Phyllis, who lives in Brighton with her husband, the actor Kevin McNally, who played Joshamee Gibbs in the Pirates of the Caribbean films, and their son David, 17.
She was already a household name thanks to a starring role in Lovejoy as Lady Jane Felsham.
But she’s still amazed at the attention Downton gets and that she ever gets recognised, given how different she looks in real life – glam rather than glum.
Despite appearing very different from her stern-looking character, with her lightened hair bouncing around her shoulders and a pink summer dress, it seems she still gets noticed. Phyllis said: “Here, they usually say, ‘That’s a lovely show, thanks very much’ and then just scuttle off. But in the States it’s much more upfront and they really like you to know just how much they love it. And they know everything about everybody’s character.”
The actress has been working on Downton since February but filming wraps in a couple of weeks.
She said: “We’re all sort of looking forward to that, even though we love it and it’s been great. But we’re all looking forward to finishing because it’s been quite intensive.”
While the younger actors in the show may be looking for their next job, Phyllis admitted she’ll be looking forward to getting back to being a real housewife rather than a screen housekeeper.
She laughed: “I’m probably going to do nothing for a bit and just catch up with friends and sort out some domestic rubbish at home.
“It’s going to be great.”
Despite spending much of the past three years with the same cast, the party for the end of filming won’t be at Highclere Castle in Hampshire, which doubles up as Downton.
“Oh God no,” Phyllis roared. “We want to get as far away from that as possible.
“No, we’re going to a party venue.
“It’ll be fun. We don’t tend to hang out together after filming, only if we’re at Highclere, where a lot of us will chill out together.
“And that’s nice, actually.
“I enjoy doing that but not everybody is always there, like Sophie (McShera, who plays assistant cook Daisy Mason) is never up at the castle, like maybe once or twice a season.
“But when we’re in the studios in Ealing in London, because we all live in London, most of us, we tend to just drift off home because they are long days. But we do meet up, like there’s the wrap party soon and we’ll all go and dance and be jolly at that.”
After the Christmas episode drama, which saw the death of Matthew Crawley (played by Dan Stevens), the fourth series begins six months later in 1922 with Lady Mary (Dockery) adjusting to being a widow and a new mum. She is also being encouraged by her grandmother, the Dowager Countess, played by Dame Maggie, to start managing the estate alongside her brother-in-law Tom Branson (Allen Leech).
Sadly for Phyllis, there still isn’t any romance between her character Mrs Hughes and butler Mr Carson (Jim Carter) – although she is thinking of the birds and the bees. Sort of.
Phyllis laughed: “It would be nice for her to have a bit of a passion with somebody – whether it be man, woman or dog.
“Or if she gets a canary even.
“Mrs Hughes and Mr Carson still have a very nice working relationship. We still have occasional spats here and there. We still have a lot of respect for one another. And we occasionally get to drink a glass of sherry together of an evening.” Laughing, she added: “Not as often as I would like.”
Phyllis is still keeping any storylines under wraps but reveals that there won’t be a continuation of Mrs Hughes’ cancer scare.
The actress insisted that her character didn’t have cancer and it was a “figment of my imagination”.
One new character for the fourth series will be singer Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, who plays real-life opera singer Dame Nellie Melba.
And Phyllis admitted her singing brought the tough old film crew to tears.
She said: “What was extraordinary was all of these big, butch, hairy?bottomed sparks and people like that were wiping away tears after listening.
“They were so overcome because she’s just a wonderful performer.”
But then that’s why Downton has been so successful. Despite it featuring posh people, it also has working class folk and shows that, despite the differences, there are many similarities between rich and not so rich.
Phyllis, who was raised in the Renfrewshire town of Johnstone, was also overcome during the second series of Downton, which focused on the Great War both at home and abroad.
She said: “My grandfather had been killed in the First World War when my own dad, his son, was a baby.  “I thought the whole war thing in Downton was done very well, and it was quite pertinent and relevant to a lot of people and not excluding me and my family.”

info by Rick Fulton of from The Daily Record in the UK August 24, 2013. 


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