Downton Abbey villain Rob James-Collier shows off his nice guy credentials in ITV1’s new three-part drama Love Life, playing commitment-phobic Joe, who tries to win back his ex-girlfriend Lucy, played by Andrea Lowe. Rob tells us more…

Joe has been back-packing for a year, but on his return he is shocked to discover that his ex-girlfriend Lucy is now pregnant and wearing a wedding ring. How does that affect him?

“Lucy is the one for Joe. He never wanted to leave her, he just had to get the wanderlust out of his system. He hopes to rekindle things, but seeing the bump throws him a curveball and he feels hurt, even though they are no longer together.”

But not everything is black and white, is it?

“No. Something doesn’t add up. He loves her so much that, rather than say ‘See you later’, he tries to put the pieces together.”

And that’s when he discovers Lucy is actual single and hasn’t told the baby’s father, her married former boss Dominic (Alexander Armstrong), that she is pregnant…

“That’s right. Lucy has made a mistake and has chosen to carry this massive burden on her own because she doesn’t want to ruin Dominic’s life. Joe can’t walk away, so he starts out as friend and tries to help her get on her feet. There is no edge to him, he is just a nice guy caught up in an awful predicament and trying to do the right thing as best he can.’

The series seems to address some real issues regarding relationships?

“It’s quite an accurate representation of relationships and their peaks and troughs. People nowadays can be guilty of not working at a relationship and hopefully, from this, there is a sense that sometimes you can work through things by pulling together.”

Although the will-they, won’t-they relationship between Lucy and Joe is at the heart of the drama, you were keen for it not to stray into chick-flick territory. Does it?

“There is a danger of being over-contrived, sentimental or chocolate-boxy, but in this the relationships are believable. Comedy comes out of the emotional times, but it is definitely more drama than rom-com. A lot of dramas now are so slick and fast-paced, sometimes it is nice to get back to dialogue-driven drama with everyday people talking about everyday things.”

Love Life screens on Thursdays on ITV1 HD at 9pm (not STV)