The making of hit Scottish drama Guilt was the subject of an RTS Scotland event in early November.
The stylish and twisty BBC Scotland show, which is shot in Edinburgh and returned for a second series this autumn, opens with the antihero, lawyer Max (Mark Bonnar), being released from jail.
“Guilt is spoken about a lot in this series... but this show is more about revenge. Max’s overarching desire is to revenge what has happened to him,” explained the actor.
Guilt could have ended after a first series that cleverly tied up all the threads of the plot. “With series 1 we wanted to tell a story that finished,” said Neil Webster, executive producer for Happy Tramp North. The thinking was: “If it doesn’t come back, we’ve told a story and we’re pleased with that. But if people connect with it, we’ll always find a way back in.”
Audiences and critics loved Guilt, which bagged numerous awards and quickly won a recommission.
Writer Neil Forsyth said: “The biggest thing was trying to make sure we weren’t doing a retread... [We] wanted to be bold and bring in new characters and stories, and a new theme as well.”
The series is known for complex storylines that trust an audience’s intelligence.
“The scripts are so delicate, dense and clever. We don’t spoon-feed anyone – [maybe] to the point where it might be quite frustrating to tease out some of the storylines,” said Nerys Evans, executive producer for Expectation, which made the show with Happy Tramp North. “It all becomes clear if you stick with it.”
Producer Eric Coulter, new to series two but a fan of the show, added: “I loved its tone – it felt like nothing else I was watching.... A confused audience is a hostile audience but an intrigued audience is not, and what Neil does is intrigue you.”
Will there be another series of Guilt? “I’d love to do a third and final series and make it a trilogy,” said Forsyth. “I could keep the thematic storytelling going: guilt, revenge, and then redemption – that would be a real creative ambition and we’ll see where we get to.”
BBC Scotland commissioning executive Gavin Smith chaired the RTS Scotland event.