The Office star Martin Freeman chats about embracing his feminine side in a bizarre new role-reversal comedy, Boy Meets Girl, which starts on ITV1 on Friday, May 1

What was it like playing a woman?
“I found it intriguing. Like with a lot of things that are different, I thought it could be either very good or very bad!”

You don’t actually cross dress though?
“No! I wasn’t walking in heels, or putting a bra on or anything. I was just acting in someone else’s body.”

Was it difficult? How did you prepare?
“The preparation for me was just observing the subtle differences between men and women, not necessarily the stereotypical ones. Women and men hold themselves genuinely differently. How they look at the world. I don’t even mean psychologically, but physically. Men are more open and confident in the way they look around whereas women move their eyes more and head less, slightly more contained.”

Did it make you understand women any better?
“It is interesting, as I’m not the butchest bloke in the world. People say to me, ‘You know what it’s like to be a woman’, but I have no idea how a woman ticks at all!”

It is meant just to be funny?
“No, I think there is a serious message here. There is something genuinely perturbing – not just about being caught up in another person’s sex – but in another person’s body full stop. It’s the whole issue of madness and what it is to be mad and what it is to be sane – and are you going mad? It’s the ultimate nightmare really, it would be really frightening.”