Match of the Day. It’s a ritualistic thing: I used to watch it with my dad and my brothers, and now I sit there with my son.
Any other childhood favourites?
Colditz. One of the reasons I wanted to be an actor was the episode where Michael Bryant played a man who tries to escape by pretending to be insane. I was very affected and it made me want to provoke that emotion in others. A couple of years ago I bought the box set for myself for Christmas, wondering whether it would hold up. It did. I was blown away by it
You bought yourself a present?
I always do. I wrap it and put a card on it, and then act surprised when I open it – “Just what I wanted!” I bought myself a golf book this year because when I was in America I was playing a lot, and I’m terrible. I haven’t opened it, but I think it’s going to improve my game simply by being on my shelf.
What’s Andrew Lincoln, your British co-star in The Walking Dead, like at golf ? Annoyingly good and annoyingly competitive. So am I, but it’s impossible to win, no matter how many shots he gives me.
Can you see yourself moving to the US permanently?
I can never see myself doing anything. It’s always a surprise. Coming to London from Liverpool, making movies around the world, working in America – there was no plan. As an actor your suitcase is always packed.
Why are so many British leading men heading across the pond?
It’s very difficult as a Brit to comprehend the size of America. It’s a very big country with a big appetite, so it goes through talent. I think we’re reaping the rewards of actors like Hugh Laurie, Ian McShane, Idris Elba and Dominic West, who went out there and did such a great job.
The Walking Dead isn’t the first brooding character you’ve played. Do you gravitate to them?
I’m 6ft 3in, I’m from the north of England and there is a gruffness to me, I guess – I’m a miserable b*****d! But it’s your job as an actor to mess around with that. People don’t know whether to love the Governor or hate him. I like that.
Are you a sci-fi geek yourself ?
I favour horror. Not so long ago I saw Don’t Look Now for the first time since having kids and it was a destabilising, unpleasant experience; great fun.
What does your wife, novelist Esther Freud, make of The Walking Dead?
She watched my first episode and no more. I wouldn’t expect her to: when she saw Carry on Screaming! as a child, she thought it was a genuine horror film and had nightmares. She doesn’t have that “it’s just a film” filter – which is what I love about her.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
I don’t believe in guilty pleasures; I only believe in pleasure.
If you were a channel controller…
I’d commission less period drama. The next ten years are going to be very challenging and that needs to be reflected on our screens. My taste is always about what’s happening to real people, right now.
What would you ban?
I object to The X Factor and Big Brother, which are the modern equivalent of throwing cabbages at people in the stocks.