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Michael Gambon: "I’m quite good at villainous characters"

Michael Gambon is a multiple award-winning actor of both stage and screen. In this interview he reveals his preference for villanous roles and his admiration of the young cast in the series.

Can you start by telling us who Howard is?

I don’t know how I’d get on living somewhere like Pagford
Michael Gambon

He’s Chairman on the Parish Council and he helps run the place. He heads up the faction that wants to see an end to the Legacy. Howard regards Sweetlove House, which houses the projects run by the Legacy, as a ghastly eyesore. He’s not a very nice bloke and is quite cunning. He wants to do well in the world and is not nice to people who aren’t like him.

He has a son, Miles; a very tall, handsome son, who is a solicitor. He has done quite well, mainly with the help of his father who has pushed him. Miles is a very nice man. He’s married to Samantha with two children, but Howard doesn’t particularly like Miles being married to her.

Howard and his wife Shirley are a double act. She’s worse than him. She comes out with terrible things and she’s very, very ambitious. She’s the main force behind all of it.

You’ve played characters of similar ilk to Howard before?

Yes, I’m quite good at villainous characters. There’s more meat in them. I’ve played lots of tough characters and heavies, horrible parts.

Do you know people like Howard?

I’ve been an actor for so many years now; the only people I ever meet are actors and kindred spirits. My whole world is actors, really. We’re all very nice.

The casting in this is superb. How was it during filming?

It’s a big cast, and the young cast especially are brilliant. I didn’t work with them all and I didn’t get to meet everyone. When you’re filming your scenes you live in a little world and you’re not always aware of what’s going on with the rest of the cast. Which is where Howard and Shirley are in a way - they are quite cut off, living in their little flat. They just want to expand and get more power, particularly for their son, Miles. They’d like to live in a big mansion I think – if Howard had the money he’d go bigger. Even at 70, he strives to have more.

And the locations are stunning, are you familiar with the Cotswolds and West Country where filming took place?

It was breathtakingly beautiful, I don’t know how I’d get on living somewhere like Pagford, I like a lot of noise around me which is why I like living in London. That’s where I exist.