New Scottish TV thriller Guilt continues on BBC Scotland.
The four part series, with a black humour, tells the story of Jake (Jamie Sives) and Max (Mark Bonnar), who two brothers who accidentally kill a man. They try to hide their mistake by placing the dead man in his home – but after Jake left his wallet in the house, the pair become trapped in their own lies.
The series has been written by Neil Forsyth, originally from Dundee, who is a Royal Television Society Award winner, and has been nominated for a BAFTA, a Writer’s Guild Award, and a Broadcast Press Guild Award.
As well as his TV writing, Neil is the author of the UK bestselling series of Bob Servant series, which was adapted for TV by Neil for the BBC, starring Emmy Award winner Brian Cox. The TV show ran for two series, won the Royal Television Society Scotland Award for Comedy and was nominated for the Scottish Comedy BAFTA.
Speaking to Scottish Field, Neil, who now lives in the English countryside, said: ‘The reaction to Guilt so far has been fantastic. I’ve genuinely not seen a bad review, which is quite extraordinary for television!
‘It’s about four years since I first had the idea for what became Guilt. I had wanted to write something about siblings, as it’s a fascinating dramatic relationship. I decided on brothers and wanted to put them in an extreme situation, see how they got out of it, and came up with that opening section where they hit Walter, take him into the house, and try to get away from it.
‘I wrote it out from there, which was an interesting exercise, to just keep writing it and see what happened, and bringing in rich characters, with a thematic link of guilt throughout it.
‘We were constantly surprising the cast in unexpected ways, and hopefully, we keep surprising the viewer too.
‘It really got fun to write as we got nearer to the end, and dealing with the challenges of resolving everything and having to tie it up. It was really refreshing to write, and wondering what was the most exciting thing I could do, as long as it was still believable.’
Viewers have noticed a warped sense of humour is constantly present within Guilt, although it’s not at the point of being played for laughs.
Neil explains: ‘Tonally, I think it’s similar to a lot of the American shows which I’ve watched. Shows like Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul and The Sopranos have incorporated a lot of humour into them, moreso than a lot of British dramas have.
‘There’s so much great television being produced just now, but for me, it becomes a richer show if there’s something dark and funny that can be incorporated into it, especially gallows humour, which is quite a Scottish trait.
‘I wanted to have some humour in my armoury, as, when you think about it, that’s a very human thing to do. Things can be going against you, but you can still find something to make a joke about.
Neil’s one-off BBC4 drama Eric, Ernie and Me told the story of Morecambe and Wise writer Eddie Braben. Eric, Ernie and Me was nominated for Best Short Form Drama in the 2018 Broadcast Press Guild Awards. It also starred Mark Bonnar, playing Eric Morecambe, and Neil was delighted to work with him again.
He said: ‘It’s an amazing cast. I couldn’t have asked for better. Mark and Jamie are just brilliant and you genuinely believe they could be brothers. They are leading the show with that instant chemistry they have, which comes from a long time of knowing each other.
‘When they are tearing strips off each other, it’s all underpinned by love.
‘And Ruth Bradley is giving such an extraordinary performance, while playing it with an accent.
‘We’ve also got Bill Paterson in the later episodes. That’s an important one for me as my parents were at Glasgow University and went to see him all thouse years ago in the theatre. We’ve had dinners together over the years, but it was a real privilege to have him in the cast.’
Guilt continues on BBC Scotland at 10pm, and is also shown on BBC Two.