You have just spent weeks in Sri Lanka filming The Good Karma Hospital – what did you miss most?
I did get a bit fed up of having Sri Lankan curries every day, so I had pizza or a hot dog on the odd occasion. That’s terrible isn’t it? But it’s a hankering for home… I missed my missus, the dog, my bed, my own pillows, my chair…
You’ve got a special chair?
Oh yeah, I’ve got an old chair with a high back so I’m comfortable when I fall asleep in front of the TV, a lovely old Parker Knoll that’s suitable for a man of my years . We bought them in Manchester a number of years ago because we love mid-century furniture and Em [Emma, his partner who’s a lawyer] had them upholstered. Cosy up on that. Big TV on.
How big is big?
Well, we’ve got a big, modern, open-plan lounge/ kitchen, with vaulted ceilings. It’s an ex-warehouse type place, so we’ve got quite a big sofa, big TV, kitchen’s behind us. I generally do most of the cooking.
Perfect TV dinner?
We try to buy local and we try to buy fresh – all of that sort of stuff. So I’ll go out hunting and come back bearing food and wine. We love a nice steak and a glass of wine. Or a couple. I love red wine. Em loves a drop of white wine, so there’s always one or the other on the go.
So you’re in your chair, red wine in hand, what are you watching?
We love a cookery programme while we’re eating. Bake Off has to be watched. We sometimes get into Australian MasterChef because it’s about 75 episodes. That’s half a year’s viewing, right there! And even though I was in it, The Night Manager.
Last year you were in pretty much every good drama: The Night Manager, Line of Duty, Grantchester…
Yes, I’ve done pretty well! I haven’t seen Grantchester, if I’m honest. My missus did. I think I was working at the time, but I saw The Night Manager. Awesome.
Do you like watching yourself on screen?
I don’t mind any more. When I’m in a scene, there’s an element I want to come across, so it’s helpful watching something back because either I think, “Oh my God, you’ve got nowhere near it.” Or “Yes, OK, you did it. You managed to get across what you were thinking about when you did it.”
Which do you prefer – drama or comedy?
You’ve just got to embrace the day, haven’t you? If something wonderful comes up, a lovely comedy, then how could I turn it down? At least I’ve been able to prove my boots in a different area. And hopefully we’ll be back in Sri Lanka next year because I’m happy behind McConnell’s beach bar.
It’s familiar ground because you own your own pub don’t you?
Yes, I’ve got a pub in the Midlands, but I rarely get behind the bar there. I have, of course, had a lot of experience pulling pints though – there hasn’t been an actor who hasn’t worked behind a bar! And I love a pint of English ale.
Would you reprise Men Behaving Badly if you could?
It can’t ever be what it was – we’re talking nearly 20 years ago – but if they came up with a good script and a good idea perhaps, because we’re old blokes now and we couldn’t be making the same mistakes. Martin Clunes is in pretty much the same boat as me. We’d have to lobby [creator/writer] Simon Nye and [producer] Beryl Vertue and say, “The public require it!”
The Good Karma Hospital is on 9pm Sunday ITV