He plays dour, eccentric Jack Halford in BBC One drama New Tricks and veteran TV star James Bolam explains why the show’s been such a hit…

There’s a fantastic camaraderie among the New Tricks cast, both on and off screen, isn’t there?
“We all look forward to working together. We’ve become like family because we know each other very well. When the chips are down we all support each other. We’ve been together now for such a long time and relationships have developed within the series almost as they have out of the series.”

So what’s the secret of New Tricks’ success?
“It’s also the old fashioned thing of a decent script that’s well acted – we hope. It’s not in your face, a lot of things remain unsaid. If people dismiss the show, they do so at their peril. I think that people like it because they can hear what we’re talking about!”

Are you referring to anything in particular, James?
“I’ve been told, ‘You’ve got to watch The Wire’, so I went out and bought the box set and I got to the fourth episode and I thought’I can’t take any more of this!’ I couldn’t understand what they were talking about! We are in the business of communication but you have to watch The Wire with subtitles.”

Your New Tricks character Jack is a true eccentric, isn’t he?
“I wouldn’t like to spend an evening with Jack. He’s potty! But what I like is if he says something, he means it. He’s a sensitive soul, he has much more patience than I do, I couldn’t be as tolerant as he is!”

Any chance of romance for Jack?
“There was a suggestion that he should have a romantic interest and I said, ‘No!’ It would destroy the scenes where he talks to his wife’s grave in the garden. Also the dreaded word ‘soap’ appears when you consider relationships. No, no, no! That’s what soap is all about and what we desperately try and avoid.”