Every morning at six o'clock, Robson Green is woken by a very special alarm clock - the sound of his 15 month old son wanting to be fed. Rubbing the sleep from his eyes, the TV star stumbles across the cosy room, lifts baby Taylor into his arms and climbs back into the bed he shares with his wife Vanya. Then, for the next hour or so, the three of them snuggle together under the duvet. It's the time of day Robson most cherishes.
For someone who once famously declared he may never have children, Robson, 37, has taken to the role of Dad like a professional. In fact, to prepare for the part he religiously read Miriam Stoppard's baby books, and even practiced changing nappies on Rupert the Bear!
He describes the birth of Taylor Robson Green (using surnames as first names is a family tradition), in April last year as 'the proudest moment of my life'. "It was so emotional, and I was terrified when I had to cut the cord. I'm no surgeon and I knew that anything could go wrong. The experience was so highly charged. It's a cliche, but you really can't explain it unless you've done it. Afterwards, we had this wonderful time- just Vanya, Taylor and me in our little hospital ward. I don't think I've ever been happier with life than I was in those few hours."
More than a year on and Robson is just as enchanted. "Fatherhood is much, much harder than acting," he admits. "But it's the most enjoyable experience ever. You can get a high in acting but there's no high like spending time with someone you love, and someone who loves you back unconditionally. It's tremendous." Last December, Robson decided to take four months off work to stay at home with Taylor full-time. "Can you see what it's done to me! I used to look so young and carefree!"
But despite his jokes Robson has never seemed more relaxed - or happy. The future he has built for himself revolves around those people he is most devoted to - Vanya, 45, her 14 year old daughter Lara, and now their little son Taylor. Whereas his old life was driven by rehearsal schedules and learning lines, Robson has fitted happily into a new routine of supermarket shopping and toddler groups. There are about 20 mums and kids - and me. I'm the only bloke there but no-one bats an eyelid. I have a great time playing with all the toys and swapping advice about baby psychology with the other mums! "Just the other day, Taylor bit a little girl. I tried to tell him off, but I'm hopeless at discipline. As soon as his little lips began quivering I picked him up for a cuddle!"
And during the evenings, the doting dad sings Taylor to sleep with lullabies. "It's natural that becoming a father has really changed me. I feel more mature, more responsible. I feel guilty now for the times in my life when I've been irresponsible. The world suddenly seems a much more dangerous place." Then, with blue eyes sparkling, he leans forward and makes a confession. "You know, the thing that's really surprised me about the whole thing is how much I can BORE people to death talking about Taylor! Honestly, I could talk for 24 hours a day about his smile, his walk, the noises he makes- and I could still go on some more!"
Taylor's childhood is sure to be very different to Robson's. The star grew up in the Northumberland village of Dudley, and his mother took on two jobs as a shop assistant and cleaner to supplement his father's pit wage. "I suppose I'm buying all the things for Taylor that I never had as a kid," he reflects. "I've gone bananas in toy shops - I've spent a fortune on stuff he won't be able to use until he's about 10! It's really for me as much as him. But he won't become spoilt. I suppose the one thing I really hope to teach Taylor is that love conquers everything, it really does. And, of course, that Newcastle United are the only team to support," he adds, grinning. Today, Vanya has been left to baby-sit while Robson has the happy task of promoting his new TV project, Take Me, which is a thriller.
It is set in Newcastle and produced by the actor's own company, Coastal Productions. Included in the script is a much publicised storyline about wife-swapping, but Robson is anxious to emphasise the programme is not really about swingers. Turning very serious, he says: "I'll be GUTTED if people label this as a programme about wife-swapping. If you involve yourself in that kind of activity, which is supposed to be the most honest kind of affair, you perpetuate jealousy, betrayal, revenge, hatred and loathing. Essentially you end up in emotional chaos. It's one of the best pieces I've been involved in, it's very precious to me."
Now there's talk of Robson working in America. His honey tan was picked up in LA recently when he went to discuss future movie projects with Bruce Willis. Robson says: "When he rang me up to say he was interested in us working together I thought it was a mate having me on. But I went on to meet him on the set of Bandits, his new film, and he was very pleasant. "I don't really get nervous about meeting famous people, but I was pretty flattered when he waved me over to him. I don't know whether we'll end up doing anything, it depends on dates, contracts and lawyers- but we'll see."
Hollywood may now beckon, but Robson is unlikely to forget his Geordie roots- or that his career was launched playing a hospital porter in Casualty. "I was ruthlessly ambitious in that show. I remember reading the script and if I wasn't written into a scene I'd just push my trolley in, make myself part of the action, and try to hog the lens anyway! I was terrible- always trying to upstage people. I look at myself back then, cringe, and think, 'You little git!'"
But he went on to star in some of the most watched TV shows of the 80s and 90s - in the process winning the hearts of housewives across the country. Though this, he denies. "I don't know what being a heart-throb means. All I can say is where were all these women 18 years ago when I was earning 355 a week in a shipyard? "I don't understand the attractiveness thing, I never had it at school, I never had a girlfriend then and there's hardly women queuing up now! When I do get attention I find it very flattering. But truly, the only reason people stop me in the street is to look at Taylor and say how beautiful and happy he is."
And once again he's off - back on that favourite subject of his...
Collette Walsh/ OK! - December 2000
Robson Green is definitely one of Britain's most popular actors. After appearing in some of the best television dramas of recent times, including Soldier Soldier, Grafters and, more recently, ITV's Take Me - produced by his company, Coastal Productions - he is regarded as one of the best-loved faces on the small screen. But Robson's appeal and obvious talent are not just recognised here in the UK. He has recently returned from a trip to Hollywood, where he was courted by some of the movie industry's biggest movers and shakers - including Bruce Willis.
However, Robson, who has a one year old son, Taylor, and who married long-term partner Vanya Seager a few months ago, was not readily impressed by Tinseltown. Indeed, the Geordie actor is keen to keep his feet on the ground while he considers his next big project. He speaks to this week's OK! On Air about becoming a father, his pop career and acting.
The write up for clips 1-4 are provided from the OK! magazine and sometimes include items that have obviously been trimmed from the interview that was aired.
You've had an amazing career and it's still on the up...
Thanks. Part of the equation for actors is luck and I've been very lucky. I've been given lots of good advice and been surrounded by great writers, the kind of people who throw good stories together that you want to read and watch.
What's the best bit of advice you have ever been given?
Never trust anyone who says trust me. You get many directors who say 'trust me', then your career falters for it. I am guilty of trusting a lot of directors and producers who shall remain nameless, who did damage to things that should have been great. I was in a show called Ain't Misbehavin' which was a '40s musical - it should have been fantastic because they threw money at it but it was an absolute shocker.
You got a lot of attention in the late '80s as Jimmy the hospital porter in Casualty. That was great, wasn't It?
Yes, everyone remembers Jimmy the porter. It was great to be part of something that celebrates the NHS while not having to pay for the misfortune of being ill. I was, and still am, a Newcastle-based actor, and my expenses at that time were 3800 a week! I used to get a bus to Bristol, called the Clipper, which took six hours. So when I started getting paid 33,000 a week in Casualty, I was able to fly! It's the best way to travel.
After Casualty was Soldier Soldier. Did you expect it to be such a success?
If the truth be known, the show wasn't going to be re-commissioned after the first series because the first episode was watched by nine million, and then it sank to six, and that in ITV's eyes is a failure. But they were so great, and I am so grateful, that they decided to give it a second series. They took the concept of the effect of army life on people and put it in a foreign backdrop, so we went to Hong Kong. And that second series just took off. It ended up getting watched by 12 million and by its fourth series it peaked at 17 million - that was the episode we sang the song.
You had a number one with Unchained Melody and a number one album. Would you ever do it again?
No, and I don't need to do it again. Firstly, music is for everyone to enjoy but we certainly weren't nicking fans from Oasis. We were chuffed to bits that we got a chance to sing these great classic songs. People were mocking the fact that 80 year olds were buying music and that anybody over 35 was buying our music, but I didn't have a problem with it and if you don't, in marketing eyes, it's an absolute gem. We kept RCA buoyant. We had a ball and I met some great people - Tina Turner, David Bowie, my hero Cat Stevens - but it took me half an hour to realise it was him, because he's called Yusuf Islam now.
But there was Robson & Jerome mania during that whole time wasn't there?
It was fun but we weren't going to the record company and saying: 'Can we do some music with you?' The actual workload only lasted six months. We didn't enter into a five-year contract. We were able to afford a very good lawyer and our premise was: 'Are we going to be financially secure after this?' It's funny, more people spoke about the music than they did about the drama and I earned more in that six-month period than I had done in 14 years of acting - and I was a well-paid actor. We simply pretended to be pop stars for six months!
You said that you met David Bowie and some other heroes. What was that like?
It was great. He and Tina Turner both said: 'Well done, it's great that you're having a good time and making money. And you're very honest about why you are actually in it,' So many bands are screwed by contracts. I'll also always remember being on Top Of The Pops and being totally amazed - Bon Jovi were in the audience watching us sing I Believe. That was a surreal image, I have to say.
Was hitting the charts ever part of the plan when growing up?
I don't know if I've mentioned it but I was a singer before I was an actor. I was in an a cappella group called the Workie Tickets. We did Phil Spector numbers for about four years and also supported the Flying Pickets. It was great fun and I always thought it would be nice to make a living out of it. However, the pop industry is very fickle, as I'm sure you know, and you have to have a good business brain on you if you want to enter it, because they will just screw you. So the majority of my time back then was made up of unpleasant experiences with worthless promotion, and you never stop. Luckily, I am a fan of the notion that there's always something different around the corner.
You have a little son - what does he think of you?
Being a dad is strange because you do have to behave. Taylor, my son, is just over a year old and sees me as a role model. It's strange, the other day, I was watching Newcastle United, and when we scored I just went bananas, but I saw Taylor's reaction and it was one of 'dad's gone mad!' Goodness knows what he will think of me acting.
Taylor's incredibly cute. You must be so proud.
Yes, he is lovely. Come on now, how many times do we say, 'Oh he's so cute', to a friend's baby and they're not. Let's be honest, they're like monsters some of them! They're crinkly little things but they do grow into something beautiful. But yes, he's fantastic - he's got so much energy and is a happy little boy. He has made me a much happier adult, too. I love him to bits.