Ken Stott has blasted the state of modern TV, complaining British broadcasters no longer blaze a trail but rely on “reality” formats and property shows.

The actor – who has been back on TV in BBC1’s The Missing – said he was in “despair” and also grumbled about the overuse of special effects, which he said prompts him to turn off programmes.

“We’re in trouble in Britain. The warning signs were obvious some years ago, that we’re no longer leaders, we’re followers in most aspects of broadcasting.

“I despair. In every area we seem to have thrown everything away and embraced reality television. It’s nauseating, programme after programme. How to trick somebody into buying your house, followed by how to trick somebody into doing up your house, into how to trick somebody into not doing up your house, and what to cook while you’re doing it.”

Ken, 60, who has appeared in The Vice and as detective Rebus, went on: “I like documentaries, for example about climbing Everest, but we don’t do that any more. The new documentary that we watch is how to make a blancmange.”

To hammer the point home, he continued that reality TV “could drop off the side of a cliff and we’d all be better off for it”.

He was also dismissive of the over-use of glossy high-tech effects on shows: “As with all new toys, we play with them too much. Whenever I see pointless use of special effects, I reach for something else.”

The Missing, which stars James Nesbitt, Frances O’Connor and Tchéky Karyo, continues on BBC1, Tuesday, December 2, 9.00pm.