Just like his character, Paul Priestly, Mark Thrippleton comes from Leeds and has a Yorkshire accent you can cut with a knife. And, like Diane's builder boyfriend, he was a roofer and tiler before the acting bug bit. There the similarities end. Mark wishes he had Paul's nerve with girls. 'I'm a bit shy, me. I'd have schoolboy crushes and girls wouldn't want to know because I was small and thin for my age. I thought about being a jockey. To stop being picked on at school, I started to do impersonations, make people laugh.'
Weight-training and keep-fit got rid of his weedy look but the actor jokes that he's still not a smooth operator with women and wonders if he should have played Paul's pal, daft Trevor, instead. 'I once drove my car on the beach at Blackpool and the yacht club had to dig me out before the police came. It was dead embarrassing.'