What was your first attempt at acting?
At school. I remember it was a show about a trip to space because I was playing an American astronaut. I certainly wasn’t taken by acting, but I was intent on making myself a success at something. Before I was an actor, I was in the oil business in Canada, working as a technician installing anti-corrosion systems on underground and underwater structures. I knew there was more to life, but it was a great way to start, I got to see a lot of the world – and it led me to the next step. I got into acting because somebody took me to an amateur theatre group in Canada. When I came back to England, I started to build an acting career.
What’s been your biggest break?
After years in the theatre, in 2002 I did an Arthur Miller play, The Price, and it moved me on. Then I got EastEnders and Gavin & Stacey, and those two together boosted my profile.
James Corden revealed that after a decade-long pause, he was sick with nerves about recording the Gavin & Stacey Christmas special. Did you feel the same fear?
Everybody doing it is thinking, ‘This is a bit scary.’ I’m sure it’s worse for James and Ruth Jones, because they wrote it. But it’s lovely to do. I don’t think I’ve been involved in something that’s been simmering on the stove for ten years before. The thing that fascinates me, cheers me and pleases me is the way its extraordinary fan base has responded. It’s amazing how Gavin & Stacey has become a part of peoples’ lives. People absolutely adore it.
So what does scare you?
Public speaking and performance. I don’t mind doing television or film, but going out in front of a live audience, there’s always that element of, ‘I wonder what’s going to happen?’ I spent many years on the stage but I don’t do stage work anymore, it’s too scary. As you get older, it’s bad enough that you start to forget things but if you’re on stage and forget things, that’s a nightmare.
What’s the key to success?
The way you impress people in the industry you work in – and luck. You can be the most talented person in the world but if your luck ain’t running right, you might as well go fishing.
What makes your heart soar?
The rare occasion I hear a politician talking some common sense. There aren’t many of them around so at the moment my heart is deeper than the depths of hell.
What acting job do you wish had been yours?
I auditioned for James Bond four or five times back in the eighties. I didn't get the part, obviously - but if I’d played James Bond, life would have been very different!
Favourite Bond moments
Who did you last send a text message to?
My son George, this morning. I’m very close to George and very grateful for that connection to him.
What did your parents teach you about parenting?
What they taught me without saying a word was ‘don’t do it the way we do it’. How long it took me to understand what they’d taught me, that’s another question. When I became a father, I still didn’t know anything. It’s taken me many years to learn.
When did you become an adult?
When I was 65. Suddenly I thought, ‘If you haven’t grown up now, you’d better start acting as if you have.’ I’ve been working out how to be an adult for a long time. I’ve had a lot of bumps and crashes along the way.
Who would you like to say sorry to?
If one lived a perfect life then presumably at the end of it you don’t have any sorries. I’ve got plenty of sorries to say, so when I’m lying there, ready to drop off the perch, I’m sure I’ll be saying them.
Medicine or alternative?
I’m Mr Alternative. I have the greatest confidence in the health service but I swear by acupuncture and Chinese medicine. Acupuncture has helped me with hearing loss. And in my early 60s I began to notice a bit of creaking and groaning in my knees. I was doing a job with choreographer Arlene Phillips and she told me to try GOPO®, a supplement produced from rosehips. I never looked back. My knees don’t creak, groan or ache any more. It’s quite extraordinary. The power of nature! (GOPO® Joint Health is available in Boots and chemists nationwide, £19 for 120 capsules, £28 for 200 capsules.)
Complementary treatments for osteoarthritis
Are you healthy?
I eat very healthily, I don’t eat junk food. And I’ve switched completely to oat milk instead of cows’ milk, so I’m not contributing to that nightmare. You’ve got a pile of grains or vegetation and you’ve got a choice: you feed it to cows and create all sorts of by-products that have to be dealt with, or you put it in a machine and produce oat milk. As far as I’m concerned, it’s common sense to cut out the animal bit. What’s the point of keeping animals penned up just to provide something a factory can turn out?
When did you last do a good deed?
Very recently, but that’s private. If you’re in a position to help people and do things that make their lives better, you take your opportunity, but it’s like giving to charity – you don’t start specifying what you do. You just do it.
What decade of your life would you like to relive?
They’ve all been such extraordinary decades. I couldn’t choose and that says a lot about my life. I’d just like to think my seventies turn out to be as good as the rest were.
What’s next on your life to-do list?
Win the lottery and retire.
Surely you don’t need to win the lottery?
You’re not one of these people that thinks just because you do what I do, you make loads of money? This is not the case. If I don’t win the lottery, I’ll have to keep working and, fortunately, work still comes in – I’m touching wood here. I feel very lucky.
The Hatton Garden Job was gripping. Is there any crime you’d ever commit?
I don’t have the bottle, even remotely. They dealt with whatever was going on in a businesslike way but, as is always the case, somebody within the group let them down because of a silly, silly slip.
When did you last drink too much?
I haven’t drunk alcohol for about ten or eleven years.
What song gets you onto the dance floor?
Knees Up, Mother Brown. I probably last danced to it at some family do.
What bad habit can’t you break?
I can’t think of anything. I don’t pick my nails, I’m a lot tidier than I used to be. I’ve improved a lot. That’s what happens with older age. You do grow up.