Downton Abbey’s Mrs Hughes plays housekeeper again in world of Paddington bear

Downton Abbey’s Phyllis Logan is keeping house once more – but for a bear rather than aristocrats.

The star has swapped playing stern Mrs Hughes in the magnificent country house for being Mrs Bird in the chaotic and charming world of Paddington.

Following the huge success of the two recent Paddington films there is a new ­animated series about the beloved bear’s adventures.

Bond star Ben Whishaw is the voice of Paddington and Morwenna Banks brings Mrs Brown to life in the seven-parter ­starting tomorrow.

Phyllis, 64, said: “It’s a ­wonderful thing to be ­involved with. It’s close to all our hearts.”

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Most would agree with her that the Paddington books, written by Michael Bond from 1958 to 2017, the year he died, are national ­treasures. Phyllis said: “The movies have ­reintroduced the story to a whole new ­generation of ­children and adults.”

All the actors voiced their parts ­separately. At one point it sounds like Phyllis is performing with Gary Barlow, even though she never met the Take That star, who sings the series’ theme tune.

Phyllis, who won a Bafta for the 1983 war drama Another Time, Another Place, said: “We all sing together in the ­chorus so I sound like I’m singing with him. I think it’s great and hope it becomes a No1 hit.

“Mrs Bird is a larger than life character – everything is at ten rather than a five or six. Our voice director is brilliant – always suggesting new things or telling me to give it a bit more oomf!”

Phyllis, known for playing Lady Jane in TV’s Lovejoy, said she appreciates her work more as she gets older: “Life goes faster the older you get. Grab the moment.”

She based Mrs Hughes in Downton, on figures from her own childhood in Renfrewshire. Phyllis recalled: “I was brought up knowing women like Mrs Hughes – grandparents, neighbours, that sort of woman. I could bring real life ­experience to the part.

“Those women might seem fearsome or hard bitten in some ways but ­underneath it all they had a good heart and were decent and could be very funny.”

Downton is such a hit in the US that the cast are treated like royalty there.

Phyllis said: “The American fans are very enthusiastic. If they like you, they will let you know in no ­uncertain terms.”

Phyllis still makes an effort to get together with her Downton cast mates. She said: “Some of us see each other whenever we can.”

And if rumours of a sequel to last year’s hit Downton Abbey film prove to be true they may spend even more time ­together.

  • Watch The Adventures of Paddington start tomorrow at 4.30pm on Nick Jr.

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