Ray Winstone reveals to TV Times magazine why he no longer drinks into the small hours and why he’s so excited to be starring in Great Expectations at Christmas…

How would you describe yourself?
“I’m no Brad Pitt or Jude Law in the looks department, but I like to think I represent the normal man in the street. There’s nothing wrong with a fantasy figure, of course. It just ain’t ever going to be me. I’ll never be mistaken for Hugh Grant. But I am what I am – and I’m very happy being me. I’m a little fat geezer from the East End!”

You’re back on the small screen next week in Tracker (Sky Movies Premiere, Friday, Oct 21), about a displaced Boer farmer whose family has been wiped out by the British in South Africa…
“It’s effectively a road movie. Two big old boys locking horns and developing a greater mutual respect than either has for the men pursuing them.”

How did you find the physical side of the role?
“I felt the bumps and bruises much more than I would have done as a teenager. Obviously, some of the big stuff – rolling down waterfalls, for example – I happily left to the stunt guys. By the end of the eight-week shoot, I was knackered, but quite fit, too, from all that walking and riding and fighting.”

Has your attitude to working changed as you’ve got older?
“There was too much boozing when I was younger. In the old days, I’d work in the day, drink into the small hours and then start all over again the next morning. I had to give that up in the end. I didn’t touch a drop for the entire shoot of Tracker. I needed to keep my head clear. It took me a long time to learn discipline.”

And you’re also going to be involved with the new BBC adaptation of Great Expectations…
“Great Expectations is my favourite novel, so I was thrilled to be asked to play Magwitch, something I’d hankered after for years. To be honest, I couldn’t wait to get stuck in.

And you’re also going to be starring in the new movie version of The Sweeney…
“My initial reaction was to wonder why you’d want to re-make something so iconic. Then I read the script and it really surprised me how good it was.”