I’m a bloody TV addict! I’ve been watching television since 1952. I was bedridden for two years from the age of 12. There was a radio in the corner of my room and I used to close my eyes and think, “If I keep them shut tight, when I look again it will be a TV.” And one day it was – my parents had got me a set.
What did you watch in bed?
Musical shows in the evening, Frankie Vaughan, who had a hell of a voice, and I liked the singers in the Jack Parnell band. During the day, you only had Muffin the Mule, Andy Pandy and The Flower Pot Men. The test card was on most of the time, but it was still a wondrous thing.
I watch a lot of British TV in the States. Most of the shows on the PBS channel seem to be British. I think the best dramas are British, and the best comedies. I like Doc Martin.
Is it strange to watch Doc Martin then walk out onto your veranda in the Californian sunshine?
I like Death in Paradise as well, and that’s in the Caribbean. But if I see something very British, it makes me homesick. Especially Wales. If something comes on about Wales, then forget it!
Did you get on with Ollie Reed?
I think we’d have had a lot in common but it’s strange, I didn’t meet him, even though I was sure I would. We lived near Shepperton film studios and used to go to a lot of pubs around there but I never did bump into him. I think I was the only person that never bumped in to Ollie Reed in a pub.
Are you still keen on pubs?
I do like a drink. I’ve never taken any drugs – I’ve never been interested in drugs – but I love British pubs. I like the camaraderie. And showbusiness parties. I’ve always been a drinker, but thank God it’s never got a hold of me. I’ve never had a problem with it; I’ve just enjoyed it. I grew up in that culture, you know, in south Wales.
As you get older, does the link with home get stronger?
When I first went to the States, to tour and do The Ed Sullivan Show in the 60s, I couldn’t wait to get back to Britain. I got more used to it when we moved there, but I never became an American citizen. I got a green card – I’m what they call a resident alien. That’s how much I love coming back to Britain.
Why didn’t you move back?
My late wife, Linda, God bless her, was always homesick when we were in the States. She was always planning to come back but her health got bad and she didn’t make it. But we were British, and it never left us. We bought our house in Bel Air from Dean Martin because it was almost identical to the house that we had in England.
Did Dean leave much behind when he moved out?
He took all the booze but there was a big chair and the bar, which was a large room in the back, his recreation area. We left that exactly the same. Dean had done such a great job with it.
The Voice UK begins on Saturday 6th January at 8pm on ITV