As an actor, I learnt from Mike not to be afraid of my background. I'd had this middle-class, public-school upbringing, and I felt it was boring. But Mike taught you to be proud of your originality. He's careful. He steers you towards playing someone who has a background with which you can identify. My character, an upper-class boor called Anthony Trotter, had, like me, been educated at Charterhouse. I found myself using hidden aspects of my personality - things that had lain dormant since I'd left school. I discovered these were legitimate things to draw upon - although by the final week of filming I was paranoid that Mike thought I was like Trotter. It's a bit of a jump from the odious Trotter to nice-but-dim Nigel Pargetter, the character I play in The Archers. But without Mike Leigh, I suspect Nigel might be less three-dimensional than he is now.
n Graham Seed is in 'Confusions' at Theatre Royal, Windsor (01753 853888); then tours
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