Former Mad Men star Aaron Staton is a big fan of BBC shows, so to be cast in the new BBC1 period drama My Mother & Other Strangers was a thrill

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US star Aaron Staton plays Captain Dreyfuss in BBC1’s touching wartime My Mother & Other Strangers (Sundays BBC1), a very different setting to his hit Madison Avenue series Mad Men.

Aaron told What’s on TV in an exclusive chat: “I’m a big fan of BBC shows and dramas, and so is my wife, and just the idea of doing a period drama for the BBC, left me pinching myself the entire time I was filming! The script is very unique and has stories I hadn’t heard before, and they were told in a very authentic way. I related to many of the characters in the show.”

He continued: “Unlike the other Americans in the drama, Captain Dreyfuss isn’t living with the daily fear of being sent off to battle. He’s been posted there as liaison officer. He’s sympathetic and empathetic and cares about these young men, at the same time as caring for members of the community and trying to smooth things over.”

My Mother & Other Strangers depicts 1940s Northern Ireland, whereas Aaron’s role as Ken Cosgrove in Mad Men was set in 1960s Manhattan and he compared these two very different experiences.

“There were so many exterior shots in this drama, which showed off the magic of Northern Ireland.,” he said. “But in Mad Men most of the scenes were shot on set, so that was a bit more cushy – you’re inside and it’s climate controlled. And yes, they let me keep Ken’s eye patch after filming!”

Aaron loved filming in and around Belfast and along the shores of Lough Neagh, for scenes in the drama’s main village of Moybeg.

“Audiences will respond to a sense of magic, and there was something very magical about filming in Northern Ireland – the setting, the views, the sunsets and the lough. But it also rained and was cold, so for me coming from Los Angeles, those things don’t necessarily happen. I brought my wife and my three boys along – and we all fell in love with the place. They came for month.”

My Mother & Other Strangers continues on Sundays (BBC1, 9pm)