Since finding fame in BBC1’s Cardiac Arrest as saintly doctor Andrew Collin, you’ve tackled some pretty controversial roles…
“I was the nice TV doctor, and I was very fortunate to be in a very successful, controversial and, I like to say, ground-breaking show. Then gradually after that I got known for doing controversial parts.
“Things like Queer as Folk in which I had a very small role, kind of changed my career, because I was the guy that killed one of the characters, and I was representing the dangers of that gay lifestyle. Then I killed Paul Nicholls in City Central and, in Soldier Soldier, I was the first gay soldier on British television. I hadn’t thought about any of these things; it just seemed to happen, but then you think that it’s a good way of talking about things.”
The recent episode of Coronation Street in which Frank raped Carla was extremely controversial…
“There is going to be a lot of controversy with Frank. For me, and I’m sure for Alison, they were incredibly hard to play because they were delving into real darkness. I was having to pull out this monster that I’ve always known was there. And more than ever, they’re the scenes where you really see Frank.
“That particular week, I didn’t go home; I was probably a bit snappy. But it was my birthday in the middle of the week and my wife took me and [my son] Isaac to a beautiful hotel for the night, so that was wonderful and, on set, they did a birthday surprise for me.”
It must be hard to switch off from playing such a troubled character like Frank, though…
“Ninety per cent of the time, I am able to switch off. I suspect that on those particular days, it took a little bit longer and maybe a larger glass of wine!”
What else can we expect to see happening with Frank?
“There’s a lot more to come. It’s about denial, about being a predator, having control. He’d have Carla back tomorrow; that’s how twisted he is. Believe me, it goes into a storyline of twists and lies. I’m putting my hand on my head when I read the scripts; I’m like ‘Oh my God, die!'”
And what about the thought of putting on DI Manson’s shoes again, should The Bill be resurrected or a spin-off created?
“I’ve still got his shoes in my wardrobe! I would never rule it out as long as Johnathan Young [The Bill’s executive producer] or Tim Key [producer] were behind it, the same writers were there and some of the same cast.
“There’s talk of taking Manson to Australia. I’ve heard all the rumours and I’ve seen the treatments and the ideas, so I think that proves we were doing something right!”