Ted Danson reveals he’s hooked on Downton Abbey

The new star of CSI would love a role in Julian Fellowes’s drama – and so would his wife

What do you wake up to?


My wife Mary [Steenburgen], and we have two very silly dogs who come leaping into our bed. Then if we’re lucky we make our little vegan shake and sit around and talk for as long as we can before we have to go do the day. At the weekend, I never miss CBS Sunday Morning, which is a news magazine show. It’s done with such kindness and thoughtfulness; you end up feeling that the world is an OK place.

What programmes must you never miss?

Downton Abbey. We’re watching the second year in this country and my wife and I are completely hooked – I can’t wait for Crawley to get out of his wheelchair and fall in love with Mary. It’s so sad that you guys only make six or seven episodes a year.

How about a cameo in Downton?

Oh, yes! Although it would make my wife horribly jealous. If we could go to England, the two of us, and be in Downton Abbey, we’d be the happiest people on the planet.

So you’re a bit of an anglophile?

By and large it’s such quality TV. I just caught the first three episodes of Sherlock and it was brilliant. But, so you don’t think I’m unpatriotic, another show I think spectacular is 30 Rock, the show that Tina Fey writes. It pretends to be behind the scenes at Saturday Night Live but they’ve done it in such a way that they can go anywhere… 30 Rock is my sitcom of choice.

You’re now starring in CSI – how does an actor who’s best known for playing comedy in Cheers cope with all that gore?

I don’t usually watch shows when I’m in them – I find it too confusing – so I’m more looking at it as an actor, looking at these things as props. But every once in a while I’ll stop and go: oh my gosh, here comes the maggot wrangler!

So no nightmares?

Just the nightmares of having to learn technical, forensic language.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Watching obese people battle it out on The Biggest Loser. It sounds silly but it’s one of the most inspiring shows.

Could you be tempted to appear on a celebrity reality show?

No! Not for any amount of money.

What makes you shake your fist at the television?

Fox News. I hate watching people in power take advantage of other people’s fears and anger. I understand people having fear and anger, but when that is used to gain power – that angers me.

What makes you cry?

We recently became grandparents and so now we cry at the drop of a hat around here.

Favourite films?

This sounds like I’m playing the anglophile card again, but I love old English 1940s war movies. That or a good book.

Who would play you in a film of your life?

Ricky Gervais. He makes me laugh.

This is an edited version of an article from the issue of Radio Times magazine that went on sale 6 March 2012.


Ted Danson stars in CSI: Crime Scene Investigation on Tuesdays on Channel 5