The last show you loved
I loved Little Fires Everywhere with Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington. I also thought Normal People was fantastic. It was so subtly done – it was full of character and sensitivity, and the cameras observed all the tiny elements of two people trying to fall in love.
The best performance you’ve seen on TV
There are too many to consider, but I remember watching a Play for Today or similar that was repeated when I was a kid and seeing a young Judi Dench let rip brilliantly in what had been a live performance. It’s not strictly TV, but I also remember seeing Richard Pryor and Diana Ross in Lady Sings the Blues, the Billie Holiday biopic – I thought: these two are not supposed to be actors, how are they doing this? It was just so emotional.
Your TV guilty pleasure
The Boys on Amazon. It’s another spin on the superhero show, except it asks what would happen if they weren’t all good – what if they were owned by a big corporate conglomerate? What if they were guilty of murder, but you couldn’t arrest them? It’s pretty violent at times, but it’s great. I don’t tend to go in for superhero stuff, although my family and I watched all of the 510 Marvel films during lockdown. We watched Hamilton, too – the kids hadn’t seen it [in the theatre], but they knew every word. Every word!
Your TV turn-offs
I’m not a fan of the Geordie Shore, Towie-type stuff. I’d rather watch something else, or read a book.
The show that should never have been cancelled
I was in a show called Undercover, which did one season for the BBC. It was really well written and it was brilliant to be on screen with Sophie Okonedo – I’ve always wanted a second season of that. Apart from that, I would say [the HBO superhero drama] Watchmen, which looks like it might not return. It can be dangerous when you step out of a genre and you start to mix different types of shows together; the skill of the writer has to be really good to balance and hold it all, and it was one of those dramas where they put so much into it and made it work.
Your favourite show when you were 10
I was a fan of sci-fi shows, such as Space: 1999, Blake’s 7 and UFO. I look at them now and I cringe at the sets and the hairdos, but the premise of those three shows would definitely work again. The Gerry Anderson stuff, like Thunderbirds, was great. The marionettes are a bit less impressive now, of course, because of all the CGI that we’ve been messing around with.
The show you wish you could guest star on
I’d love to jump into Succession; it’s really, really good. Would I play a goodie or a baddie? I think the best characters are people you’re not sure of, that you keep on going: “God, I hate that person,” but you can see why they do what they do. Overall, it’s much more interesting to play someone who’s not nice.
The best TV villain of all time
JR Ewing in Dallas, played by Larry Hagman. I don’t think we’ll ever get back to a point where the name of a TV villain is on hats and T-shirts and bags, like it did with Who Shot JR? It was perfect television, and it became such a part of the national consciousness in Britain, even though it was an American show. Dallas was Succession before Succession. That cliffhanger went on for months and months and months and had an incredible impact. There were three TV channels, so the amount of people watching JR get shot was in the tens of millions. It was a different time – we were still using phones with rotary dials.
Life starts on BBC One on 29 September