Still on the case after 20 years; The big interview Blythe Duff is best known for her long-running role as DS Jackie Reid in Taggart - but it hasn't shackled her theatrical ambitions.
Byline: By PAUL ENGLISH
Blythe Duff may be the longest serving member of the longest running cop show in TV history - but last year she thought her days as DS Jackie Reid were numbered.
The 46 year old, who has starred in Taggart since 1989, was so convinced her time on the beat in Glasgow was over that she enrolled in classes to enhance her acting skills.
But with Taggart totalling 100 not out, and with a part in a critically acclaimed play touring the UK, Blythe will have to shelve shelve
v. shelved, shelv·ing, shelves
1. To place or arrange on a shelf.
2. plans for those classes for a while yet.
She says: "I could ream off hundreds of reasons why Taggart is the best job in the world, but to be honest I thought Taggart was going to end last year.
"So I started to think outside the box, and I found that it was actually really exciting. I started thinking about what way I wanted to go with my career and started to get really enthused about it.
"I even enrolled in some voice training classes. But then we got ten more Taggarts."
The highly paid actress feels no need to defend Taggart from its detractors.
Why should she, when it can still pull audiences of nine million?
"If it weren't for Taggart, I'd still be working away in theatre, still probably living in a flat in Ibrox, not be driving a fancy car, I wouldn't have met my husband, I wouldn't have inherited his two lovely daughters.
"I would be like a lot of very good actors out there who do good theatre work and do bit parts in Taggart, and that might be all the work I do all year.
"I have too many really good pals who have been out of work too long. It's still a tricky job, and you always have to remind yourself that there are plenty of people out there who would happily fill your boots."
That's not to say she's not interested in pushing herself in other directions.
Having started out in theatre pre Taggart, Blythe - despite her lack of classical training - retains an affection for treading the boards.
So when the opportunity arose to work for the National Theatre of Scotland with one of the country's most famous thesps, she jumped at the chance.
But taking the touring role in Be Near Me with Star Wars actor Ian McDiarmid Ian McDiarmid (born August 11, 1944) is a Tony Award-winning Scottish actor. He has had a successful career in theatre; he has been cast in many plays, while occasionally directing others. involved begging Taggart bosses to change their tightly regimented filming schedules.
Blythe said: "Ian read
Ian Read is Vice President of Pfizer and the company's President of Worldwide Pharmaceutical Operations. the book (written by Kilwinning writer Andrew O'Hagan Andrew O'Hagan (born 1968) is a Scottish writer and novelist. He was selected by the literary magazine Granta for inclusion in their 2003 list of the top 20 young British novelists. ) and decided he wanted to adapt it himself.
"It's set in Kilmarnock and is about a priest who comes back to Scotland after years in England. But an incident with a teenage boy changes people's reaction to him."
After being approached by the National Theatre of Scotland, Blythe fell in love with McDiarmid's adaptation of the script.
"I knew it was being rehearsed at a time I was filming Taggart, but I figured I would go and meet with them anyway, and not get too attached to it," she says.
"So I did that, and when I read the script I felt I had to walk away from it, knowing I couldn't get involved, and not get upset about it.
"I left the meeting, went home and was trying hard not to think about it.
"I kept saying 'yes, it's a lovely play, very good for the National Theatre, a great choice for them'. But it was as if not saying I wanted it would make not being able to do it less difficult. But my husband just knew and got it out of me."
The clash of filming/rehearsal schedules proved not to be a problem, with the STV STV Single Transferable Vote
STV Star Trek: Voyager
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STV Satellite Television
STV Scottish Television
STV Stranglethorn Vale (World of Warcraft computer game) executive producers reworking timetables to accommodate their female star's wishes.
"I was so pleased they did that for me," says Blythe. "Their attitude was 'why wouldn't we do that for you?'" Blythe joined the rest of the cast to launch the play in Kilmarnock in January, before heading south for a seven week run at the prestigious Donmar Warehouse The Donmar Warehouse is a small (not for profit) theatre in the Covent Garden area of the London Borough of Camden. History
Theatrical producer Donald Albery formed the Donmar in London's Covent Garden Covent Garden (kŭv`ənt), area in London historically containing the city's principal fruit and garden market and the Royal Opera House. , where the likes of Nicole Kidman and Judi Dench Dame Judith Olivia Dench, CH, DBE, FRSA, (born 9 December 1934), usually known as Dame Judi Dench, is an Academy Award, Golden Globe, Tony, three-time BAFTA, and six-time Laurence Olivier Award-winning English actress. are more common on the bill than Taggart stars.
The production comes back to Scotland later this month for dates in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Perth and Inverness, before returning south to Salford, Cornwall and Leicester.
As much as Taggart has afforded Blythe a national profile, she has resisted the temptation to uproot and head south to capitalise.
She says: "I'm very patriotic, I love living in Scotland. I love the people and everything that goes with living here.
"It has provided us with a fantastic lifestyle. My feelings are that we've had to fight to get a bite of the cherry a lot of the time in Scotland.
"When you look at something like the National Theatre of Scotland it has moved us on leaps and bounds and gone to places all over the world with productions."
With the recession in full miserable swing, Blythe points out that a certain segment of the Scottish economy benefits from the fact that the Taggart bandwagon rolls on with seven more episodes left to be shown this weekend.
She said: "Some people think Taggart should be finished, and when they say that I point out to them how much work it provides to so many people. That's never been more important."
And the longest serving Taggart cast member - 2009 is her 20th year associated with the show - and one of its top earners, Blythe laughingly agrees that she's the show's mother hen.
Yet she confesses that after Mark McManus Mark McManus (born 21 February 1935 in Hamilton, Scotland; died 6 June 1994 in Glasgow) was a Scottish actor best known for his portrayal of Detective Chief Inspector Jim Taggart in the long-running ITV television series Taggart. died in 1994, she didn't want to go on.
She says: "When Mark died, I didn't want to be out on the streets filming, I didn't actually want to be there.
But I'm so glad we did, because when Alex Norton joined the cast as Matt Burke he gave us that added gravitas grav·i·tas
1. Substance; weightiness: a frivolous biography that lacks the gravitas of its subject.
2. . You need someone shouting at you.
"That said, I have times when they change the format that I worry about it. It has been changed from90minutes to the current hour-long format.
"At first I really didn't like them, because everyone was running at the end. I always felt the 90 minute format was the best one.
"I suppose I'm very maternal with the programme on and off screen. I'm fiercely proud of it and it has been an incredible run. I owe and awful lot to it.
"I love working with the guys, but with so many of them around it's very much a man's world, and I have to put up with all that entails."
That said, playing a cop who comes out on top has instilled a sense of confidence inher she's wise to be wary of.
She says: "In some ways it makes me feel fearless. I'm sure I could high kick my way out of a situation, I could definitely have someone's arm huckled up their back.
"When I go to somewhere like New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of I never feel threatened, but it's actually really naive for me to think I could sort a situation if anything became untoward.
"I suppose that's why I have a husband who is six five and a half."
Hubby Tom Forrest, a former cop who she married in 1998, wasn't able to help her when she fell and hit her head sustaining a nasty gash in London recently.
After years of rest raining criminals on the telly, teetotal tee·to·tal
1. Of, relating to, or practicing complete abstinence from alcoholic beverages.
2. Total; absolute.
[Probably partly tee1 Blythe was brought crashing down by nothing more sinister than a misplaced step.
She said: "I fell over when I was coming back from Leicester Square, I took a tumble with my shopping in my hands which meant I couldn't break my fall.
"I was left with a cut about my eye which needed six stitches, a black eye, two sore knees and a sore lip.
"I ended up in casualty at the Univeristy College London on a Friday night which could have been horrific, but I was treated so well."
One of the country's top telly cops brought down by her shopping bags? Jim Taggart would not have been impressed.
Be Near Me: Citizens Theatre, Glasgow March 25-April 4, Eden Court Inverness April 7-11, Edinburgh Traverse April 15-18, Perth Theatre April 21-25.
Fellow thesp favourites
The National Theatre of Scotland know that popular names will draw crowds to their shows. Blythe Duff is just one of the well kent faces to tread the boards for the revered organisation. We take a look at the others who have crossed over.
The veteran actor takes the lead in Be Near Me, playing a priest who makes mistakes which bring his world crashing down around him. McDiarmid recently appeared as Denis Thatcher in BBC BBC
in full British Broadcasting Corp.
Publicly financed broadcasting system in Britain. A private company at its founding in 1922, it was replaced by a public corporation under royal charter in 1927. 2 drama Margaret. A respected classical actor, McDiarmid is still best known to millions as the evil Emperor Palpatine, and features in five of the six George Lucas movies.
The star of Billy Elliot joined the National Theatre's ranks late last year, playing alongside River City stars Carmen Pierracini and Ryan Fletcher in Nobody Will Ever Forgive Us, which also featured a priest battling with his faith. The piece played to solid reviews at the Edinburgh Traverse.
Nardone starred alongside Kevin McKidd in mega-budget HBO Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBO)
A form of oxygen therapy in which the patient breathes oxygen in a pressurized chamber.
Mentioned in: Ozone Therapy drama Rome, which won a string of awards and was shown on BBC2. She also played a bent copper on River City, but left the soap to join the cast of Black Watch as it tourned New Zealand New Zealand (zē`lənd), island country (2005 est. pop. 4,035,000), 104,454 sq mi (270,534 sq km), in the S Pacific Ocean, over 1,000 mi (1,600 km) SE of Australia. The capital is Wellington; the largest city and leading port is Auckland. and returned to New York for a record breaking run last autumn.
Higgins, who had a duel role in Black Watch and wrote Nobody Will Ever Forgive Us, is the star of vicious BBC2 political satire The Thick of It. He has the role of his career in the forthcoming big screen version In The Loop. Also appeared in acclaimed BBC Scotland comedy No Holds Bard and features in their forthcoming drama Hope Springs.
Best known to telly fans as Vader from River City, Ryan is an NTS NTS National Technical Systems
NTS National Trust for Scotland
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NTS National Traffic System (amateur radio) favourite. He starred in 365 along with his brother Scott and girlfriend Laura McMonagle, who he met on the Shieldinch soap, as well as Nobody Will Ever Forgive Us. He toured the US with Black Watch in 2007, but quit only to be dramatically redrafted to stand in for Paul James Corrigan.
'If it weren't for Taggart, I'd still be working away in theatre, still probably living in a flat in Ibrox and not driving a fancy car'
CHANGING PLACES... As tough talking DS Jackie Reid with her Taggart co-stars, left and treading the boards in Be Near Me, above; POISED... The actress says playing a tough female character has given her confidence Main Picture: Sven Arnstein/StayStill/Photoshot; RESPECTED... Ian McDiarmid