Loves and Hates
Woman & Home
Nathaniel Parker, 49, is best known for playing the title role in the Inspector Lynley Mysteries and will be appearing in Merlin on BBC One this autumn. He is married to actress Anna Patrick and they have two daughters, Angelica, 14 and Raphaella, 12.
Was Merlin fun to do?
Yes. As a little boy, I loved the magic of Arthurian legend. My character, Uncle Agravaine, has a dark and broody presence, and that is very enjoyable to play. The best thing about Merlin is that I watch it with my daughters, so they're delighted I'm acting in something we can watch as a family.
How do you feel about being the only male in a house full of girls?
It's wonderful. I often get put in my place, but it helps that I have quite a strong feminine side. Anna is a brilliant role model for the girls. It's a strange feeling as they go into their teens - you want to let them out into the big wide world, but you also want to protect them. They're both keen to act and when they perform at schoolplays I feel terribly nervous. Fortunately, they're very talented, and I have to let them make their own choises.
You turn 50 next year - how will you mark the milestone?
I approach birthdays like a racehorse, celibrating them on 1 January each year, which means by the time my actual birthday comes round in May, it's not such a big deal. I'm quite looking forward to turning 50 and next year is a very special one too because Anna and I will celibrate our 20th wedding anniversary, and 25 years together.
Are you planning something romantic?
Yes, I hope so. There's very little time for romance when you have two children. Although the girls are becoming more independent, they've also become much more reliant on us to ferry them around since we moved to the country a year ago. Anna and I used to enjoy some time to ourselves after the girls have gone to bed, but they're staying up later now, so that window of time is rapidly disappearing.
How would you spend the perfect weekend?
I'd get up early and have my cup of coffee before buying the Racing Post and studiying the form. I love horse racing and own a share in a racehorse, so I have a special interest. I once made £5,500 on a £2 accumulator, but this kind of succes is rare. After breakfast, I'll take the girls horse riding, which we are all mad about, and I marvel at their progress.
In my teens, I realized riding stables were a gold mine of pretty girls and not a lot of boys to compete with! I love riding, but I also enjoy the thrill of racing.
It's hard to beat a good bottle of wine. I'm no expert, but I find out when a vineyard has a good year and this helps my choise.
My guilty pleasure is toast slathered in marmalade, and a slice of bacon with a fried egg placed on top.
I'm dyslexic, so it can take me a while to get through a novel. I never dip into books; I fall into them and I love The Outcast by Sadie Jones.
It makes my blood boil when I see footballers shouting at the referee. It sets a really bad example. A rugby player would never behave like that - if they did, they'd be sent off.
It's horrible when you catch that awful stale smell of dead flower water.
I can't stand it and some people try to disguise it in food, but I can always taste it.
I saw a boy fall over running for a bus recently because his trousers were pulled down so far. I never understand this trend.