'My ideal role is a part with lots of words'

q&a The British actor Robert Bathurst of Cold Feet fame is in Dubai to appear in Alex, a play based on The Daily Telegraph cartoon strip.

Robert Bathurst is starring in the one-man play <i>Alex</i> in Dubai.
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Robert Bathurst is a British actor who starred in the comedy drama series Cold Feet. He is in Dubai to appear in Alex, a one-man play based on The Daily Telegraph cartoon strip of the same name, at the Madinat Theatre in Dubai.

It's when I feel most confident and terrified in equal measure. There's nothing better than when it's going well.

When I left university there were all these people in my year saying that they were going to work in banks. I didn't know anything about that world or even how they knew it was what they wanted to do. Now I'm spending my career satirising them.

Yes, I've followed the Alex strip since the beginning. He gave non-city people an insight into that world and he gave city people an uneasy feeling that there was a mole in the bank.

A lot of directors don't have ears. Especially on television, they are just interested in the images and don't care about whether the sense of a line is being mangled. I've worked with a few good ones and the Alex director Phelim McDermott is one of them.

You want me to say Lear or Prospero, something definite like that, a role that satisfies my artistic ambitions. Well, here it is: my ideal role is a big part with lots of words.

Working with someone you admire can be disappointing. I'd take the risk with Philip Seymour Hoffman.

As a youngster going to the theatre I probably said, "I want to do that" when watching Michael Gambon.

I can't remember making such a promise; however, there are sometimes moments in a long run when the appeal begins to wane. I haven't reached that with the Alex show. What happens is that when you are doing telly you want to be doing theatre and vice versa. Actors are terrible moaners and those in work always forget what it's like to be unemployed.

I don't identify with him at all. Unlike him I'm still free to go to South Africa and the United States - he's running out of continents where he's welcome. As far as he's concerned, though, he's a great bloke.

The computer failed one night (it's just me on stage with the cartoons) so we had a five-minute break to reboot it. Someone looked down from the circle and in the audience below there was a sea of BlackBerrys, loads of Alex types using the opportunity to catch up on their emails.

We were never trapped together very often. Usually the scenes involved only two or three of us and we'd be like ships in the night. Every series we'd do an episode somewhere like Ireland or Australia. That was fun; they were the only occasions when we spent time as a group.

Every job has its challenges and each one has the prospect of humiliating failure. Alex is unlike anything I've seen or done and was by no means a certain success. I once did a two-hour stage monologue about cannibalism which was a challenge, not least for the audience. At least Alex has laughs.

Very much. I think Alex has found his natural home.
Madinat Theatre, tomorrow and Thursday, 8.30pm (04 366 6546). Dh195 for ticket with programme or Dh300 for VIP tickets, which include a programme, a copy of the Alex playscript, and a reception with Bathurst.