Martin Clunes returns to ITV1 in a new two-part thriller, A Mother’s Son (Monday & Tuesday). He tells us about the drama, his role, and why he doesn’t give it all up and just run his farm…

Can you describe A Mother’s Son?
“A schoolgirl is murdered in a small community and during investigations it looks like the son of the heroine of the piece might be the killer – you just never know, it’s really cleverly written. I’m the estranged husband, the father of the boy. The mother now lives with someone else who has his children.

“It’s all about how it reverberates around the families and the community. Hermione Norris plays the mum… I sort of know her. In fact we’ve played husband and wife before, in a terrible thing called Under The Hammer with Richard Wilson. It was about auctioneers. And begged the question ‘Who gives a **** about auctioneers?’ Answer – a decreasing number of people, so no second series!”

What keeps you enthusiastic about your work?
“I love acting – that’s my day job. Working with animals could have been another career.
But that’s how television has changed – in the past you had an expert like David Attenborough or a zoologist, standing and telling you what they know and illustrating the point with the wildlife. Whereas I know s***! And all I have to offer is ‘Come and see what I’m seeing’, with the camera over my shoulder and see how excited I am. And that’s all I have to offer!

Have you ever considered doing that full-time?
“I did used to worry that doing things like this would lesson my currency for the day job, as an actor. But now – the places I’ve been and the people I’ve met and the things I’ve done – I’d really miss that. I’m so bloody lucky.”

Ever tempted to give up television and just run the farm?
“No, I love acting, I really do. And whilst I’ve still got the opportunity… I’ve really enjoyed being at home more this past year. I sometimes used to think ‘I’ve got this lovely home, so why am I never there?’ When we were filming Doc Martin I would be away all week for at least four months and just have weekends at home – it was a massive chunk of time. But it pays the bills! And it’s what I do.”

There has been talk of Men Behaving Badly coming back…
“That talk never comes from any of the makers or writers or actors! The rumours happen regularly, but I don’t think so. I’m 50, for ****’s sake! It’d be a bit seedy and unpleasant. And the others haven’t aged as well as I have!

“We did come close to it once, but then Caroline said ‘What if it was awful?’ That would be terrible. It would be a horrible thing to do to all the people who thought they wanted they wanted to see it come back. Best left with the longing, I think. I’d love to work with Caroline again, but we’ll do that somewhere else.”