David Morrissey has confessed it was intimidating working with Sheridan Smith and Olivia Colman on The 7.39 as they both won Baftas during filming.

The trio star in the BBC drama, written by David Nicholls of One Day and Starter For 10 fame, about a married man who falls for a young woman he meets on his daily commute.

David revealed: “It was very intimidating. They’re two actresses who I’ve admired for a long, long time and whilst we were actually shooting The 7.39 the television Baftas happened so at one point Sheridan had to run off set in a ball gown to get to the venue in time.

“And of course they both won, Sheridan won best actress and Olivia won best supporting actress and best comedy performance, I think, so she got two awards. And the next day I arrived in the make-up trailer and Sheridan was sitting there with her award on the desk. So it was quite intimidating to be working with award-winning actresses right there right then.

“But they’re both wonderful and both have that ability which is rare in being able to flip between the comedic and the dramatic very quickly. And I think that’s an amazing ability.”

The TV drama has obvious parallels with David Lean’s classic film Brief Encounter, written by Noel Coward, but the characters in this modern version are much more open with their feelings than in the 1945 film.

David said: “I think they’re very much of their time. What’s always been interesting for me is that Brief Encounter was written by a gay man in a time when being gay was very dangerous and had to deal with codes and love affairs and it had to be conducted in deepest secrecy. So his idea of a love affair between two married people, he had an insight into that from a secretive place.”

Talking of the characters in The 7.39, he said: “They talk about their feelings and they act on them. This is a modern love story with all its difficulty and tragedy. I think hopefully it’s a tale many people could relate to whether they’ve acted on it themselves or not.

“It’s a very grown-up drama which people will relate to and see as a modern story about people like them. It’s not a sensationalist story in any way, it’s a very heartfelt story about a very true event.”

The 7.39 begins on Monday, January 6 at 9pm on BBC One.