Shameless star David Threlfall discusses playing Noah in new one-off BBC drama, The Ark (BBC1, Monday, March 30)…

How did you feel about taking on the iconic role of Noah?

“I didn’t want to play Noah as this iconic, religious figure. I saw this drama as being more about Noah ‘the man’, a man with deeply held personal beliefs.”

Noah’s greeted by an angel (played by Top Boy’s Ashley Walters), who tells Noah he must build an ark in the desert to save his family and all of mankind. How will modern audiences relate to that?

“This drama has a very modern theme in that society’s become very wicked and things need redefining. Noah believes he’s been sent this message for a reason.”

How does Noah’s family react when he tells them about his God-given task?

“Noah’s family think he’s being selfish by following his beliefs, which they don’t share, especially as he’d told them they could build their own homes. But Noah’s clear about what he’s got to do.”

Do you think this version of the Noah’s ark story will appeal to people of all faiths?

“Yes. This is not just a Bible story, it’s the story of a family in crisis. It takes its inspiration from many faiths and speaks of values that should be shared across all cultures.”

Noah begins the task of trying to build the ark on his own – how did you find filming those scenes?

“I’m sure people will be laughing at my construction abilities and it was certainly tough filming in 40-degree heat in Morocco. I can use a hammer and chisel, so I’m not totally inept – but neither am I capable of building an ark!”

There’s a fight scene in The Ark when Noah has to defend his son Kenan (played by ex-Hollyoaks star Nico Mirallegro). Is it really you throwing the punches?

“Yes, that was me. It’s always fun to do stuff like that when it’s in a safe environment – and after 10 years of doing Shameless it was no problem at all.”

You’ve played lots of different roles since Frank Gallagher in Shameless – are you pleased you’ve had such a varied career?

“I like variety, I don’t want to go around playing versions of one character for the rest of my life because I’d bore myself really easily. I do feel so lucky to be doing what I’m doing but, if I wasn’t an actor, I could do something else. Although, I think it becomes clear in The Ark that I wouldn’t be a builder!”