Whether playing a young woman who enters a disastrous wartime love affair or a strict disciplinarian in-charge of an entire household, Phyllis Logan always imbued her characters with authenticity and verve. After launching her career on stage, the Scottish actress made the jump to British television with feature roles in made-for-TV movies and on drama series like "Play for Today" (BBC, 1970-1984) and "Shoestring" (BBC, 1979-1980). Logan finally broke out in the war drama "Another Time, Another Place" (1983), as a young housewife who falls in love with a prisoner of war; a role that earned her accolades, a string of guest roles, and provided her with the perceived gravitas to land parts on popular series like "Holby City" (BBC, 1999- ), "Hope & Glory" (BBC, 1999-2000), and "Lovejoy" (BBC, 1986-1994), as an aristocrat who helps out a rogue but loveable antiques dealer. But it was the actress' compelling portrayal of the resolute but compassionate housekeeper Mrs. Hughes on the critically-acclaimed "Downton Abbey" (ITV; PBS, 2011-16), a period drama series that highlighted the class divide between the upper-class and their servants, that made Logan a household name and gained her a slew of fans around the world.
Phyllis Logan was born on Jan. 11, 1956 in Paisley, Scotland. A graduate of the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, she started gaining acting experience as a member of the Dundee Repertory Theatre. After touring around Scotland and performing at various theaters, Logan relocated to London, where she launched her onscreen acting career with featured roles in made-for-TV movies such as "The White Bird Passes" (1980), and on BBC dramas like "Play for Today" and "Shoestring." Logan's first big break was landing a lead role in the 1983 film " Another Time, Another Place," a drama set in 1943 Scotland during World War II, in which she played a young housewife who falls in love with an Italian P.O.W. who works on their farm. Her role in the hit feature gained Logan acting accolades, including the BAFTA Award for the Most Outstanding Newcomer to Film in 1984. She continued to make inroads with appearances in a variety of genre projects, including the horror films "The Doctor and the Devils" (1985) and "The Inquiry" (1986), and "The Kitchen Toto" (1987), a drama set in 1950 Kenya about a British policeman who takes in a murdered black priest's son to live with him and employ him as a houseboy.
In 1989, Logan starred in the made-for-TV biopic "Goldeneye" (ITV), which chronicled the life of British author Ian Fleming; Logan portrayed his wife, Ann. Her career continued to flourish with appearances on popular shows like the comedy "Screen One" (BBC, 1985-2002) and "The Play on One" (BBC, 1988-1991), as well as providing the voice of a friendly sea monster in the animated fantasy film "Freddie as F.R.O.7." (1992). While she kept busy with film roles, Logan continued her role on the hit series "Lovejoy," a dramedy based on the novels of British crime writer John Grant, which chronicled the adventures of a rogue yet charming antiques dealer named Lovejoy (Ian McShane), who had an uncanny ability to spot rare treasures as well as clever fakes. On the series, Logan played Lady Jane Felsham, an aristocrat who enjoys helping Lovejoy out on his deals.
Television provided the versatile actress with a string of guest roles on BBC shows like"MI-5" (Spooks, 2002-2011) and "Heartbeat" (1992-2009), as well as recurring parts on dramas such as "Holby City," "Hope & Glory," and "Silent Witness" (1996- ), about a team of forensic pathology experts and their investigations. In 2010, Logan appeared in the final storyline of the mystery program "A Touch of Frost" (ITV, 1992-2010), as Inspector Frost's (David Jason) love interest who marries him at series' end. That same year, Logan joined the cast of Julian Fellowes' award-winning period drama "Downton Abbey," which followed the aristocratic Crawley family and their servants. On the international smash series, Logan played Mrs. Hughes, the head housekeeper who ran her female staff with a no-nonsense attitude. While she was a strict disciplinarian, Logan's character was not without compassion, and she often found herself helping out fellow servants when they were in distress.
By Candy Cuenco