You play sadistic Ramsay Bolton in Game of Thrones. How long will you stay in the series?
No idea. Anyone can go at any time. Death is always around the corner for all of us. I really enjoy the role, though some of the stuff is more disturbing than anything I’ve ever done. [Ramsay played a key role in a controversial rape scene.] But I’d love to carry on.
You’re back in the sitcom Vicious. How does it compare with Game of Thrones?
Polar opposites! It’s quite bizarre. I was just finishing this fifth series of Game of Thrones and there was an overlap with Vicious. I was slightly worried until Ian McKellen pointed out I’d be in a different costume and I’d be fine!
What are your co-stars Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi like?
They’re wonderful. I spend a lot of time just watching and learning. They’re so respectful to everyone they work with, not just the people they need to. There are people out there who behave terribly – naming no names. It’s a thing that film and TV does to you. If you’re lucky and get one role and everyone’s kissing your ass, that can ruin you. But Ian and Derek went through the rep system and appreciate every opportunity given to them. They still have a hunger to learn more.
Do you prefer comedy or drama?
I love both, but comedy’s harder and more daunting. It’s either funny or it isn’t.
What makes you turn the TV off?
Reality TV – X Factor, The Voice, TOWIE, any of those. I know there’s a place for it and I’m not slating people who do watch it, but I would much rather watch something that isn’t just trash.
You wouldn’t do a reality show yourself, then?
I’d do The Great British Bake Off! I’m a bit of a baker. I’m a big fan of a Christmas cake with icing and marzipan. Anything with marzipan in it, in fact. I could eat it raw.
Your earliest TV memories?
I’ve always been quite outdoors-y and only watched TV if it was raining. But anything action-y like Thundercats and He-Man was on my radar when I was very little.
Which role would you love?
It would be really cool to be in one of those Scandinavian detective series. I’d love to play a lead detective in something.
What makes you shout at the TV?
Football. I support Manchester United, so there’s been a lot of shouting recently! I watched a lot of the political shows around the general election – Nigel Farage makes me shout.
Ever been starstruck?
All the time! I bumped into Mick Jones from the Clash at the NME Awards a few years ago. I told him he was my hero. He asked me my name and I told him and he said, “What’s that, mate, South African innit?” And I worked with Michael Sheen years ago. I was so nervous. But that kind of thing just pushes me on. You have to bring out your A-game when you work with actors like that.
Vicious returns to ITV tonight at 9pm. Game of Thrones continues on Sky Atlantic on Monday nights at 9pm.