Cold Feet’s John Thomson: my circumstantial depression helped me play Pete

The star of ITV's comedy drama explains why he likes the "darker side of things"

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Describe the room you watch television in.

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Hang on, I’m in it now. It’s knock-through, laid out as a lounge and dining room. The TV is mounted above the fireplace – a real working one, but I have a werewolf’s ceramic head in there at the moment.

I watch the television from a very old sofa that lifts up into a sofa-bed type thing, so you can put your legs up. Do you want to know what else is in the room?

Yes, please.

I collect miniature knights – knights of old, in suits of armour; there are four of them in here. Next to the telly I’ve got a picture of Buddha, because I’m quite spiritual. And I’ve got an original painting of Donald Pleasence as Blofeld, a print and a painting of Tommy Cooper, and the Legends of Industry award from the Variety Club of Great Britain on the mantelpiece. I became a legend of industry in 2013.

Did you enjoy that?

Very much: 2013 wasn’t very good for me so that was the highlight of my year. Opposite the fireplace there’s a huge bookcase full of books about horror films, Star Wars, more books about horror, science fiction, Doctor Who, James Bond and horror. You get the picture, I love horror.

Have you still got DVDs on the shelves?

I’ve actually got a lot of VHS videos, but nothing to play them on. There’s a 30-year-old episode of Billy Cobham’s Drum Clinic from BBC2. I’m a professional drummer. I wasn’t daft when I entered into acting, I knew it wasn’t guaranteed. So there are two drum kits in the basement.

What programmes are you enjoying just now?

Not Latvian Morris Dancing or the Camping and Caravan channel, though I do love to flick through the channels – you know there’s actually a pub channel and a darts channel? I loved American Horror Story – I’m all up to date with that – and Hannibal. I like the darker kind of things.

You’re not quite as jolly as you seem…

Well, I’ve had some rotten times, and that’s what I used for this recent performance in Cold Feet. The way I interpret it is there is clinical depression, which is a chemical imbalance in your head, and there’s circumstantial depression. And I’ve very much been through circumstantial depression, and very recently as well. I’ve used it to convey Pete Gifford’s story. 

Does Cold Feet attract stalkers?

Thankfully not! But when I was in Coronation Street, we used to get some very, very strange things. I have been asked to convert to Islam twice and been sent mass cards saying, “Accept Jesus in your life”. Someone asked, “Will you send me a picture of you smoking a pipe?” I don’t smoke a pipe. 

Do you snack in front of the TV? A bag of crisps with the news?

I have a tendency to get a bit paunchy, so I eat early – the one thing I don’t want to do is snack at night. Though I’ve got a 14-year-old daughter and a six-year-old daughter who stay with me at weekends, so I do know the revelation that is salt and sweet popcorn in front of The X Factor on a Saturday night.

Are you an X Factor fan, John?

Well, you can’t absolutely ban it. Can you?

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Cold Feet continues tonight, 9pm ITV