Former Being Human star Russell Tovey appears in Coming Up, a series of one-off C4 dramas. In the first of these dramas called New Cross, Russell plays down-on-his-luck Carl who becomes entangled in a love affair…

New Cross is an intense and often shocking drama – what made you want to do it?
“The writing. The script was so lovely and the character was so touching. I don’t want to give too much away but my character Carl is quite a tragic person and you just want him to be happy. He’s had a really cr*p time – his mum’s died, he’s got a really horrible relationship with his sister and suddenly this beacon of light appears in the form of this young woman and he thinks it’s all going to be amazing. But it isn’t. Saying that, when I read the script I felt like there was hope for Carl and that’s what you’re building towards for the audience.”

So how would you describe Carl?
“He’s a lonely man who is quiet and shy and has terribly low self-esteem. His mum died recently, he doesn’t have a good relationship with his sister, I don’t think he likes his job or even his mates very much. So he’s kind of sleepwalking through his life.”

So how does he react when this young woman throws herself at him?
“For him to have any attention from women is completely baffling. It’s something he’s not used to at all. It completely knocks him sideways and I think he just gets completely obsessed with her. It’s not love – it’s like he’s 15 and he’s a child again. He’s so emotionally immature and what’s interesting is she is the emotionally mature one. She’s like the adult even though she’s very young, and he’s like the kid. It’s a dark piece and it’s quite haunting as well.”

Can you relate to that feeling of being stuck in a rut like Carl?
“I think we’ve all felt loneliness and I’ve definitely had obsessions with people where you think you’re completely in love with them but you’re not. It’s either just a sexual desire or lust, or you just become obsessed because you’re trying to project onto them the person that you want them to be, which they aren’t. And I think that’s what he does. He thinks she’s his route out – she makes him forget about his horrible life, his mum, his friends. But of course she isn’t his way out and it all comes crumbling down.”

So what are you up to next?
“I’m shooting series three of Him & Her for BBC3 and then I start a comedy called The Job Lot. That’s set in a job centre and it’s going out on ITV1 which is good for me because everything I seem to do is quite culty and digital and this is prime-time TV. Sarah Hadland from Miranda is in it and she is so flippin’ funny – she makes me laugh so much. I hope everyone else finds it as funny as we do!”

Coming Up begins on C4 on July 2 at 11.10pm