IN BETWEEN her last Glasgow appearance (the opening of the city’s first Taggart archive) and her latest one (gripping darkly comic drama Escaped Alone at the Tron Theatre), Blythe Duff managed to fit in a little gem of a project which had unexpected consequences.

She recorded a beautiful version of JJ Gilmour's Glasgow Town, which was then released as a single with Blythe also starring in the accompanying video as a police officer who is not perhaps quite what she seems.

Glasgow Times:

“I’m no Dua Lipa, but getting a single on Spotify at the age of 61 is not too bad,” jokes Blythe, who played no-nonsense cop Jackie Reid on long-running crime drama series Taggart.

“Glasgow Town was a lovely project, it was very close to my heart.”

Currently, Blythe is starring in Escaped Alone by Caryl Churchill at the Tron Theatre.

On the face of it, this is a garden get-together between three women, until their neighbour Mrs Jarrett (played by Blythe) joins in. The chat moves from idle gossip to revealing monologues, full of crippling anxieties and dark secrets, with Mrs Jarrett delivering her own set of absurd – yet plausible – set of apocalypses.

It is the plausibility which Blythe has found most unsettling, she admits.

Glasgow Times:

“Caryl wrote this play in 2016, but there are moments when you do think, ah yes, it was just like that in the pandemic,” says Blythe. “There are words and phrases, for example, that I would just never have known before, but which are normal now because of Covid.”

She pauses. “Which is terrifying, really,” she adds. “Not reassuring in the slightest. But I think we do have to acknowledge what we all went through. Escaped Alone was ahead of its time, it’s so prescient.

“It’s dark, we are talking about catastrophe at huge levels, but it’s not dreary.”

She adds, smiling: “It is complex and challenging, and expects a lot of the actors and the audiences, but I think people will enjoy it. People are hungry for strong theatre. They will leave with a lot of questions, but hopefully they will have felt it was a really good night at the theatre.”

Glasgow Times:

For this production, which feels both socially and politically relevant in the current climate of environmental crisis and warfare around the world, director Joanna Bowman has assembled a strong female cast of older Scottish actors known for their popular stage and television work. Anne Kidd, Irene Macdougall and Joanna Tope star alongside Blythe.

“That alone has been an utter joy, it is so lovely to work with these women whom I know but have never acted with before,” says Blythe.

“And it’s just the four of us, supporting each other, listening to each other – we don’t need to impress anyone, we’ve all been there and done that – we’re just in awe of each other, and it’s really lovely.”

Blythe admits “swithering” about taking on Escaped Alone.

“I like working on new projects, things that constantly change and challenge me,” she says, before adding with a laugh: “Apart from that 21 years on Taggart….but I think it’s probably because of that I need to keep challenging myself.

“You have to take risks, and in the theatre, every job is a risk. No-one does theatre for the money, and I am lucky because Taggart afforded me a lifestyle that means I can choose to take those risks. I’ll never forget that.”

Blythe jokes her husband (former police officer Tom Forrest) is hoping she’ll retire soon.

“He thinks we should both retire, and I think, like everyone, since the pandemic, you do start to ask – what does life need to be?” she says, slowly. “We want to spend more time together, and we have two brilliant daughters, one of whom is getting married, so this year will definitely be spent on dress fittings and hen dos. I want to make sure I am involved in it all.”

She adds, with a laugh: “Although I draw the line at wandering the streets in a fluffy pink stetson. That won’t be happening."

If retirement is in the plans, it does not look likely any time soon, however.

“I do still have lots of plans - and whatever comes next, I hope music will be part of it," says Blythe. "I’ve loved doing some singing, so maybe there will be more of that.”

She adds: “I know I’m lucky, to have got to this age and still be working, and I never lose sight of that.”

Escaped Alone is at the Tron Theatre until March 9.