For many people, the recent lockdown has been very challenging, but Nigel Havers has confessed he couldn’t be happier, as it means he’s been spending lots of time with his wife of 13 years, Georgiana Bronfman.
With a chuckle, the 68-year-old actor says, ‘I actually said to her about two months ago, “I’ve been working back to back, I’d love to have a break,” and she said, “Well, you might get one, you never know,” and here we are!’
Nigel and Georgiana wed three years after his second wife, Polly Williams, died from ovarian cancer in 2004, aged 54. Georgiana was a mutual friend and Nigel has spoken about how she comforted him through his grief.
He adds, ‘Lockdown has been great. We are very close, we love being on our own together, so it’s not been any strain or stress for us. It’s lovely.
‘There’s nothing you can do about it so you might as well just lie back and enjoy it. I just obey what I’ve been told to do, which is keep your distance, don’t go out unless you have to, and keep cool, keep calm and carry on – and watch TV!’
Nigel famously played Audrey Roberts’ love interest Lewis Archer in Coronation Street between 2009 and 2019, and confesses he sympathises with the cast still on the show who aren’t able to film due to the coronavirus pandemic.
‘Corrie is full-on,’ he explains. ‘I think they probably can’t believe they’re not acting. They’re not used to not working and must be going stir-crazy, but they’ll get the hang of it!’
Chariots of Fire star Nigel was also in the middle of filming a new drama when they were made to shut down, but luckily for him, his new BBC show The Bidding Room is keeping him busy.
While he’s finished filming the new show, in which people arrive with their antiques to be valued and subsequently bid on by a group of five antique dealers, he’s still got some voice-overs to do. He’s been working on these every other day in his own studio.
And it seems if he hadn’t been an actor, Nigel would have quite fancied being a professional antique dealer.
He tells us, ‘I’m very keen on antiques. I think that’s one of the reasons I was chosen, because the producers knew I was a collector. I had to be very careful not to buy some stuff for myself.
‘I told my wife I’m an expert now, and she said, “Shut up! No, you’re not!”’
In fact, Nigel did end up buying something brought onto the show and it’s something he’s passionate about – wine.
He recalls, ‘I trained and I took a course in wines when I was young, so I know a lot about French wines, especially Bordeaux, and one woman brought in a bottle of 1959 Chateau Parma, which is a wine I know well. I thought someone would pay around £600 to £800 for this bottle.
‘I couldn’t resist going into the Bidding Room myself, so four of us got in together, bought it for £500, and we drank it that night with some cheese and crackers. It was absolutely delicious!’
Nigel has always looked far younger than his years, which is something he puts down to his mum, Carol, rather than lifestyle choices.
‘It’s in the genes,’ he laughs. ‘And just be sensible, that’s the other thing. My mother always looked 20 years younger than she was, so I was lucky to inherit that because it’s always kind of handy in my job. So I bless her every day.’
So, with his new-found bidding skills, is Nigel going to make the move into all things antique?
He finishes, ‘I’ve pretty much done everything! I just want to keep working and keep doing things that I like doing. Staying alive is always an achievement, especially today.’
The Bidding Room is on BBC1 every weekday from Monday 18 May and on BBC iPlayer