Larry Lamb on the demise of New Tricks and whether Archie Mitchell could make a comeback

The ex-EastEnder also reveals that he once starred opposite Lauren Bacall...

How do you wake up?
I put Radio 4 on at 6am for the Today programme and start doing my little exercises: tiny crunches for my core muscles, push-ups for my shoulders and back, then half an hour on the exercise bike. I do them every day, except this morning, funnily enough. Bad boy.


What’s on your bedside table?
I’ve always got far too many books on the go. I’ve just finished Meera Syal’s fabulous House of Hidden Mothers and now I’m reading The Black Count, about the grandfather of Alexandre Dumas. I’m a big history buff.

What’s your current must-see drama?
Nashville (Wednesday 10pm E4) – but I can’t stand all the ads, so I may have to wait until the box set comes out. Everyone says record it and then just flip through the ads, but it’s painful. The first two series were absolutely phenomenal – it’s like watching Dallas set in the music business.

What was your last box set?
I finished the entire Breaking Bad in a fortnight. I’d waited for two or three years to watch it and I got so caught up, I couldn’t stop. I’m too old to stay up all night [he’s 67], but there I was into the early hours. Talk about OD-ing!

Lamb with Denis Lawson, Tamzin Outhwaite and Nicholas Lyndhurst in New Tricks

Do you and your partner, actress Clare Burt, share similar tastes?
Not at all. She and my two little ’uns – my daughters are 12 and nearly 16 – like watching crap TV: Dance Mums, X Factor, all that nonsense.

So what’s your perfect night in?
Probably reading somewhere, locked away on my own, or catching up with something on my iPad. I love BBC4’s music documentaries.

Who was your first crush?
I fell madly in love with a French exchange girl and she spurned me. She had a big crush on Johnny Hallyday – France’s answer to Elvis – and I’ve hated him ever since.

Has anyone left you starstruck?
Lauren Bacall, whom I played opposite in a film for television in 1989. It was wonderful to meet a part of Hollywood history – but you gotta keep your cool.

What advice did you give your son, TV and radio presenter George Lamb (below), when he told you he was going into show business?
He never did. He wouldn’t have listened anyway. My daughters will be going into it for sure – they’re both actors, singers, dancers.

Why is this the last series of New Tricks?
It’s nothing to do with the cast; we’d all go on for ever. No, they’ve decided, and that’s the end of it.

What’s next for you?
I’m doing a series for Channel 4 about disappearing elements of British life. Maureen Lipman and I are interviewing people all over, finding out what they do and what interests them. It’s fascinating.

Now Kathy Beale has been resurrected, is it time your EastEnders character, Archie Mitchell, made a comeback?
Never say never! Stranger things have happened.

New Tricks is on BBC1 tonight (Tuesday 18th August) at 9.00pm


Read more: Dennis Waterman – “Why I’m leaving New Tricks”