He's played a soldier, a detective and a psychologist but Robson Green says his latest role as a teacher has taught him the most about life. In the gripping two-part thriller Like Father Like Son - which starts on Monday on ITV1 - Robson plays Dominic Milne, an English tutor accused of murdering one of his pupils.
The Geordie actor stars alongside top actress Jemma Redgrave, as a mum who fears her son is following in the footsteps of his dad - a vicious serial killer. And Robson told us the nature vs. nurture debate scares the life out of him! "It's a terrifying notion that destructive behaviour can be hereditary and that comes across in the film. As a dad it really made me stop and think," he said. "It really struck me just how important parenting is to a child. The decisions parents make when they are bringing up a child have a profound effect. If you bring youngsters up in a violent background, there's a chance they'll be violent in some way too. And if you abuse or traumatise a child, you can destroy their life."
In the film, Jemma's character Dee is terrified her son Jamie will find out the sinister truth about his father - who he happily believes is a Gulf War hero. Robson told us: "I honestly think that keeping secrets from a child is the worst thing you can do. The secret Dee has kept has a traumatic effect on her son. A child's love is unconditional and they need 100 per cent honesty."
Robson's performance in the drama, to be broadcast on Monday and Tuesday next week, has won rave reviews. But it's not just critical acclaim he's achieved, the star - who won the nation's heart in Soldier Soldier - says as well as picking up valuable parenting lessons, he's also learned to multi-task. "It was great, by the end of filming I'd really nailed writing on the blackboard and talking at the same time! Playing a teacher is really interesting but I must admit it was strange going back to school. And we had to talk about Othello, which wasn't my favourite play."
Jemma Redgrave describes Robson as "immensely talented." In the drama he plays her boyfriend. "He's a terrific actor and a great bloke who's very easy going. I thoroughly enjoyed working alongside him - and that's not just because he's easy on the eye!" she added.
The housewives favourite, who celebrated his 40th birthday last month, told us getting old doesn't bother him in the slightest. "Reaching the big 4-0 is strange but I like it. I remember being seven and looking at a person of 40 and thinking it was so old. But here I am and nothing much has changed, I'm still the boy of seven. I've just acquired a vocabulary and a bit of a hairy chest!"
As one of the UK's best acting talents, Robson has enjoyed enviable success. Roles in Trust, Touching Evil, Reckless and Take Me won him critical acclaim and how could anyone forget his singing career alongside Soldier Solider co-star Jerome Flynn! The star, who is happily married to ex-Page 3 model Vanya, told us: "In the past I've been described as the ever-developing Robson Green. I've been acting for 20 years and I've worked on some great shows and some not so great shows - it's all part of the game. This industry is about survival and if I've survived for as long as I have, I suppose I can't be doing badly. I'm very happy with what I've achieved, I honestly don't crave recognition."
So, we won't be catching Robson on the next series of Celebrity Big Brother? "There's no way I'd ever go on anything like that. I honestly worry that reality TV is just about people with a desperate need of approval, a desperate need to be liked and a desperate want of attention. Those sort of shows shouldn't be the future of TV. We need to bring back good storytelling because that's entertainment at its most fundamental."
Robson's next project is a drama called Beaten. The actor admits the production, about domestic violence seen through a child's eye, is a real shocker. In the opening frame, a little boy sees his mother fly across the room after Robson hits her in the face. "It is certainly the most controversial film I will have made - so watch this space," he added.
Like Father Like Son is on ITV1 at 9pm on Monday and Tuesday. (By Louise Compton)