The notorious Corrie baddie talks about trading cobbles for curtain calls, his favourite places to stay on tour, and honouring the brilliant Bill Kenwright.

Can you tell us a little more about your new role?

Andrew Wyke is a world-famous best-selling crime writer. He’s a complicated man, that possesses a rich and extensive vocabulary and a passion for games and words. One evening he invites a young man – Milo (played by Eastenders’ Neil McDermott) to dinner, who he knows is having an affair with his wife. As the evening unfolds, not all is as it seems, and all manners of twists ensue. As I’ve gotten older, it’s been great to step into roles with greater depth, fascination and power.

What first drew you to the show?

I have Bill Kenwright to thank for the honour of getting to play Wyke. He knew I was interested in another theatre role and suggested Andrew’s character could be perfect. I’d known Bill a long time thanks to his role in Coronation Street and starring alongside his partner, Jenny Seagrove, in the Exorcist play. I accepted the offer immediately. It was humbling to know he trusted in my ability, and I wish he was still with us to see the show hit the stage. I think of him every day when I’m performing.

What’s the best part of being on tour?

Finding fun places to stay. We’ve covered a lot of ground these last few months and it’s nice to find a rural haven where I can catch up on some downtime. Currently, I’m sitting in a cosy Wiltshire cottage, taking in the first daffodils of the season. I like staying in places out of town. It’s the best way to recover health in between shows.

Do you prefer playing theatre roles to on-screen ones?

I love working on a mix of projects. Through filming, I’ve explored some amazing locations – Thailand, South Africa, all over Europe – which I wouldn’t have seen otherwise. Yet with theatre, there’s nothing quite like performing in front of a live audience where the atmosphere changes every night! Working on Sleuth has required some adjusting after life on the cobbles, particularly with learning lines. Any soap actor will tell you, by the afternoon following a morning scene, they’ve forgotten the script. It’s necessary so you can prepare for the next day’s take. However, in theatre, rehearsals are much longer, and you need to hold on to everything. It’s taken me some time to settle back in but now it feels like second nature!

Were you always interested in acting?

As a child, I was always glued to movies and could name any star from the 1940s onwards. We were living in a town which was home to the Tom Thumb Drama School. I was nine when I asked my parents if I could join. My first role was pretending to be a tree. From then on, I knew it was what I wanted to do.

Who’s your favourite character that you’ve played?

It’s got to be the one I’ve known the longest, almost 28 years, Stephen Reid. I started Coronation Street in 1996 and was blessed with playing him on three different occasions. Once in my mid-30s, again in my late 40s and most recently in my early 60s. It was fascinating to see how Stephen evolved and to see myself grow as an actor to meet the different demands the role required.

Is there anything people may be surprised to know about you?

That I’m an avid gardener. It’s a favourite pastime of mine, as is horse riding and jumping. At heart, I’m a rural kind of guy and love spending my downtime outdoors.

Sleuth’s 2024 tour arrives in Dartford at Orchard West from May 7 to 11. Book tickets at