If I did not act I'd be an escort.. I love the ladies! NIGEL HAVERS CONFESSIONS OF A CAD.
AS a smooth-talking TV heart-throb, Nigel Havers is used to receiving more than his fair share of steamy mail.
But even he has been shocked by the contents of his postbag since he started playing escort Lewis Archer in Corrie.
"I have been getting sackfuls of fan mail - and some of it is very bizarre," reveals Nigel. "I've had lots of women saying they want me to take them out for dinner and then do, well, I don't know what!
"I've had lots of racy underwear sent to me, which I've had to hide from my missus, and I've received some explicit drawings.
"There was one of me and this woman together in bed. Can you imagine what was going through her mind when she drew that? I haven't had that sort of mail for a long time - 20 years ago, in fact. It is extraordinary."
And it's got him thinking about what life might be like as an escort.
"If I had been a male escort I would have made it a very fun and lucrative business," he grins. "But I don't know how I would have stopped myself from getting involved with all the different women.
"I am not good at emotional detachment and it would have all become rather complicated.
I love women too much and you have to be quite cold and detached like Lewis.
"Of course, there are worse things than being taken out to wonderful restaurants - and everything else that the job can entail!
"Actually, thinking about it, when acting gives me up, maybe I should become a male escort - although my wife might have something to say about that!" Nigel is devoted to his third wife Georgiana Bronfman - the former spouse of Canadian billionaire Edgar Bronfman - who he wed in 2007.
But he admits that she is uneasy about the type of roles he takes on.
"She doesn't like me doing the kissing scenes in Corrie," says Nigel, whose character is toying with Audrey and Deirdre in the ITV1 soap. "Last year I was in America doing Brothers and Sisters and I had a lot of bed scenes with Sally Field. Georgiana wasn't happy and I said, 'Darling, this is what I do for a living.' Now I hide the scripts!" Although Nigel has carved out a niche as the dandy, loveable rogue in shows such as The Charmer and Don't Wait Up, he doesn't see himself as a cad.
"There is this misperception I'm just a charming, smooth-talking b******," he says. "OK, I dress well and I speak RP [Received Pronunciation, the Queen's English] which isn't terribly fashionable - but I see myself as a normal regular guy."
Many women would beg to differ. With his classic good looks, Nigel has always been a hit with the ladies, especially in the Swinging Sixties. "I met some great women and I did my bit for England and the country," he grins. "I had a good time and of course the invention of the Pill did open up a whole new opportunity!" And what does Georgiana think about his colourful past?
"I don't think she cares to go down that route," he says. "All she's said is, 'It's in the past, let's move on.'"
As a young drama student at the Arts Educational School in London's Piccadilly, Nigel was spoilt for choice when it came to women. "There were about 300 girls and 60 guys, so the ratio was pretty much in our favour," he says. "I didn't have any bad times there and made the most of it. London was amazing in the Sixties.
"My parents were very liberal and let me have girlfriends stay at our house, which was very cool."
Nigel was 26 when he got married to his first wife Carolyn Cox, who was nine years his senior.
He recalls: "I had resisted getting married up until then. I could have got married and I very nearly did but I thought, 'I am just too young'.
"Then I met Carolyn. She was the girlfriend of a company manager of a play I was in. Their relationship fizzled out and I saw an opening. Carolyn was very cool and much older and wiser than me. We got married in 1975 and we had our daughter Kate a year later."
After building a successful career by playing colourful charmers, Nigel was cast as a real-life rogue in 1987, when his three-year affair with former model and actress Polly Williams became public.
Both were still married with children and there were the inevitable comparisons with Nigel's on-screen role in the ITV series The Charmer, in which he played a womanising conman. "It was in all the papers and I thought it sounded terrible," recalls Nigel. "I was quite torn between the two but Polly bowled me over."
After attempting to leave his first wife three times, Nigel moved in with Polly and they wed in 1989, but she died in 2004 after a five-year battle with ovarian cancer. "Polly did bloody well hanging on for as long as she did," he says.
"She was very tough and fought it for five years but she threw in the towel at the end because her body gave up. I turned down TV and film offers so I could look after her. She couldn't really get around without me. I took her to hospital for chemotherapy and she was so uncomfortable from being moved around that she would scream in pain.
"But I had a way that she would trust me to get her there comfortably.
"Towards the end, she was in hospital all the time and I stayed there for the last part too. It's so hard to see someone deteriorate like that. But now I don't think about the nasty bits. I think of the good times and how she was before."
As he nursed Polly, Nigel became very close to one of her friends Georgiana, who later became his third wife.
It has been suggested they got together just weeks after Polly's death but Nigel says they were friends for at least a year before they became an item.
"Polly was great friends with George," recalls Nigel. "George was so supportive when Polly was ill and we were like, 'Wow we should get together.' But we were good friends for a year or more before anything happened and George had been divorced for 10 years or more."
They married in New York in 2007, with a blessing in the South of France.
"I never thought I would get married for the third time but I am very glad I did," says Nigel. "I am very settled and I'm not going anywhere now.
"I'm actually not very good at being on my own anyway and I wouldn't want to spend the rest of my life alone.
"I operate better in a relationship and life is much more fun with somebody than not. I find women fascinating. I would much rather go on a girls' night out than with the boys. I like a good old gossip."
And at home Nigel insists that he is the perfect househusband.
"I'm obsessive when it comes to cleaning," he smiles. "I think it annoys Georgiana slightly. I would tidy her up and put her in a cupboard if I could.
"But I do find it therapeutic. I can listen to the cricket on the radio and do the dusting or I can learn my lines with a script in one hand and the vacuum cleaner in the other."
Slim and with barely a wrinkle on his tanned face, it's hard to believe Nigel celebrated his 60th birthday last year. "I used to be terrified of getting old but not any more," he admits.
"Georgiana is a bit younger than me and we are going to grow old together. If I was married to a girl of 30 I would be really depressed about my age.
"I do everything I can to keep fit. I go running three times a week and I go to the gym. I try not to drink too much and I eat healthily."
Tomorrow night, viewers will see Nigel's character Lewis return from Greece with Audrey - and then reveal plans to move there permanently.
But will Lewis go through with it? Two endings have been filmed, one of which involves him making a dramatic exit.
As for Nigel, he was a Corrie viewer back when it began half a century ago.
He remembers: "I was at prep school back in 1960 when it started and the headmaster was such a fan that we were allowed to watch it. I can't believe that I'm now in the show - it's only taken me 50 years to get here!"
DEVOTED With third wife Georgiana DASHING With first wife Carolyn in 1987 TRAGIC Second wife Polly in 2001 ON-SCREEN SMOOCH Kissing Audrey in Corrie FAME In Don't Wait Up with Dinah Sheridan and Tony Britton BOUNDER With Fiona Fullerton in The Charmer
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|Publication:||The Mirror (London, England)|
|Date:||Aug 4, 2010|
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