Philip Glenister began working as an actor in his late twenties but it was his scene-stealing role as the politically incorrect detective Gene Hunt in Life On Mars and Ashes To Ashes that propelled him to stardom.

The 51-year-old lives with his wife Beth and two daughters Charlotte, 9, and Millie, 12, in southwest London. Earlier this year he presented the Channel 4 show For The Love Of Cars and appeared in BBC One’s Manchester-based From There To Here.

What are your bugbears when driving?

Where do I start? There are too many to mention. People driving up you’re a**e, (or) cutting you up. But I probably do most of those things myself so I have to be careful!

What kind of car do you have, a sporty number?

I’ve got two kids so I don’t have a sports car. And they’re low down so I’m too old now. It’s nice in your twenties and thirties but I like something where you have to get up into it.

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Do you think you’re a good driver?

I think I’m alright. Touch wood, there haven’t been any accidents. I think I’m quite a cautious driver although my wife will probably tell you differently. But living in London you can’t bloody move, it’s a permanent traffic jam.

What do you listen to in the car?

I mainly listen to the radio. Radio 2 and Radio 4, that’s my age. Rock music if I’m in the mood. Joe Satriani, thrash guitar, which isn’t really my thing but great to drive along to. If I’ve got the kids with me, then it’s what they want to listen to. I’m like, ‘Put your headphones on, Daddy’s listening to Woman’s Hour!’

My youngest is nine and doesn’t want anything to do with One Direction. The other day she said, ‘The only boy band that matters is the Beatles,’ and I’m like, ‘That’s my girl! I’m bringing you up well.’

Philip Glenister as DCI Gene Hunt in Ashes to Ashes

Do you consider yourself something of a car buff?

I love all of this ‘Phil is a petrolhead’. I like cars but I don’t confess to knowing anything about them. I’m much more like, ‘Oh that’s a nice looking car. That’s pretty. I like that.’

How come you’ve been presenting For The Love Of Cars?

I was asked and it sounded like a challenge. I suppose when I was growing up, one of the things that seemed to stand out or at least appealed to me was those shows in the Sixties where the cars were cast as leading role, almost - you know, The Dukes of Hazzard and Starsky & Hutch. And then when Life On Mars and Ashes To Ashes happened, we had the Cortina and the Audi Quattro and they became players in the show. People responded to them, so I think that’s how the car thing came about.

Were you nervous about presenting the show?

When they asked me, I said, ‘Look I don’t know anything about cars,’ and they said, ‘You don’t need to, we’ve got a guy for that.’ The hardest part was talking to the camera because I’m almost trained to be in a room where the cameras don’t exist. And suddenly you’re being asked to look down the lens.

Would you like to own a classic car?

No, Alexei Sayle put me off. He used to own classic cars and said there’s nothing more terrifying than driving around London in a classic car not knowing whether it’s going to break down. We were going to go to France for the day and the Stag we borrowed broke down before we got to Aldgate East, so that put me off. Plus it needs to be in a garage and I haven’t got the room, and it needs tender loving care and you need a lot of money. I can’t afford it, I’ve got two kids!


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