TV preview: Jonathan Creek

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She’s only four years old but Alan Davies’ daughter has already heard a lot about Jonathan Creek.

“She’s heard the words ‘Jonathan Creek’ so many times that she’s asked who Jonathan Creek is,” says the comedian, who has played the magician and title character in the BBC One drama since 1997.

And the questions don’t stop there.

“’Daddy’, she goes, ‘What’s stand-up?’. It’s so peculiar and funny that she’s heard that phrase, possibly from Katie and I talking [about it],” explains the 47-year-old, who started out on the stand-up circuit. “Even if you thought about it all day, you won’t be able to find a way of explaining stand-up to a four-year-old.”

Katie is Katie Maskell, Davies’ wife of seven years who is a children’s author and mother to their daughter, Susie, and two-year-old son, Robert.

While the couple might be chuckling a lot at home, their children don’t always see their humour as a laughing matter.

“My daughter wants to know what’s going on. If we’re laughing at something, she doesn’t like that. It’s not funny. She says, ‘What are you laughing at?’” explains Davies, a lifelong Arsenal fan.

It’s clear that his family is ever present in his mind. Davies was raised in Essex by his dad, after his mum died when he was six years old.

After studying drama at university, he started his comedy career in the late Eighties, before finding greater fame in Jonathan Creek.

Last year, after a decade-long break, Davies began performing stand-up again and has found himself busy - there’s a new tour, Little Victories, coming up this spring, as well as Apres Ski, an entertainment show to tie in with the Winter Olympics, another series of the panel show QI and a new chat show in the pipeline.

“It’s always the way with these things. You sit around for ages wondering what you’ll do and then you think, ‘Oh I’ll do a stand-up tour’, and then you get offered three programmes at once, all of which you want to do,” he says.

“It’s nothing to complain about but it does make it a little harder to see the children, so I try very hard to balance it out. But the thing that actually gives way is your own life. Katie and I don’t do anything or go anywhere, all our spare time is spent with the children.”

He uses video messaging to stay in touch with his family when he’s away.

Twitter is something that has lost its shine for Davies, however (although he does enjoy hearing from people who’ve been to his gigs), because he reasons: “Why am I looking at this when my children are in the next room?”

The youngsters won’t be watching their dad in BBC drama Jonathan Creek - they’re more interested in “Peppa Pig and Charlie And Lola DVDs”. And they probably wouldn’t recognise him anyway, given the unflattering extensions he has to wear, now that his hair’s shorter in real life.

“I went into the make-up bus and they had a polyester head with these lank, greasy, grey dark wefts [of hair],” says Davies. “I was like, ‘I can’t remember there being a tramp character. The poor, sad actor who has to put that in their hair’, and the next thing I know, they put it in mine!”

But the hair means he can “look in the mirror and it’s a very familiar face to see”.

Familiar as Creek is to Davies, some of the stunts he had to pull off in this series weren’t. One in particular saw him conquering his fear of horses, so that he could canter alongside a young horse rider.

“I’m quite scared of horses,” he explains. “I had a bad experience on a horse when I was about 23 in Canada.

“I’d never been horse riding before. I’d been pony riding on Blackpool beach but the thing just set off, I lost the reins, I lost the stirrups, my horse just bolted. This was all while I was shouting, ‘If I fall off this I’ll sue’, which they said they almost risked because they were laughing so much.”

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