Shetland star Mark Bonnar: “Strictly often reduces me to tears”

The Catastrophe actor on breaking into spontaneous dance routines on set

Douglas Henshall and Mark Bonnar, Shetland (BBC, EH)

You’re in Shetland – so what are you watching on TV up there?

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I live in Hertfordshire! But I’d love to live in Shetland. It’s the most breath-taking place, and people are so friendly, which makes up for any sense of isolation. But I don’t mind my own company. I’d buy a bike.

What TV have you liked lately?

Time is precious, with two young children [Martha, six, and Samuel, two]. I used to channel-flick, but now it’s Blue Planet II and The League of Gentlemen. Or sport – I love boxing and football, but I’ll easily sit and watch kayaking.

What’s your TV room like?

We [he and his wife, Cutting It actor Lucy Gaskell] have a green sofa, a purple sofa and a yellow chair – but I’m a floor dweller. Years of wine-drinking have made the rug the safest place to be, so I don’t fall off anything!

Any must-see programmes?

I’ll watch anything, if I’m grabbed in the first ten minutes. I have quite a low attention span. I keep a wee list on my phone of things that people recommend. Stranger Things [on Netflix] was on it and that was incredible. But I feel guilty that I haven’t finished Breaking Bad. I used to watch it on my iPad when I was doing the dishes – it wouldnae have been Lucy’s kind of thing – so I’d have it up on the windowsill and do the pots and pans.

Is there anything you turn off?

I hate my children watching adverts. On some kids’ channels, the ad breaks are longer than the cartoons. But CBeebies is absolutely fantastic – it’s the go-to in our house. I find myself getting drawn in because it’s so good. My wee boy and I absolutely love Peter Rabbit.

What about grown-up telly?

I loved Motherland. Everybody in it is amazing, but Anna Maxwell Martin, wow. As parents, we all have that anxiety and tension. It’s hilarious but quite a hard watch because it’s so close to the bone.

Have you told its co-writer, Sharon Horgan? You were in Catastrophe with her.

I’ve got two more episodes to watch, and then I’ll give her a wee text. It’s always great to see anybody you know doing other things and surprising you.

Your character Chris in Catastrophe can be quite dark… Are you drawn to black comedy?

Yes. When I was little in the late 70s I used to sneak downstairs to watch the late Hammer Horror double bill on BBC2. I’ve always been drawn to scary and unsettling things. When you can combine that with humour, it’s a winner.

What on TV makes you cry?

The end of The League of Gentlemen was pretty emotional, when Mark Gatiss and Reece Shearsmith were on the platform saying goodbye. It was a beautiful end, and a hug goodbye to us viewers. And Strictly is so charged, it often reduces me to tears. When someone pulls something off, it can easily set me off. Lucy will turn to me and go, “Are you crying?”

Do you dance yourself?

Frequently, but it’s daddy dancing. And on set sometimes, if I’m bored or people need a laugh, I’ve been known to break into spontaneous free-form routines.

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Mark Bonnar plays Duncan Hunter in Shetland on Tuesdays at 9pm on BBC1