Can you start by telling us who Howard is?
He’s Chairman on the Parish Council and he helps run the place. He heads up the faction that wants to see an end to the Legacy. Howard regards Sweetlove House, which houses the projects run by the Legacy, as a ghastly eyesore. He’s not a very nice bloke and is quite cunning. He wants to do well in the world and is not nice to people who aren’t like him.
He has a son, Miles (Rufus Jones); a very tall, handsome son, who is a solicitor. He has done quite well, mainly with the help of his father pushing him. Miles is a very nice man. He’s married to Samantha (Keeley Hawes) with two children, but Howard doesn’t particularly like Miles being married to her.
Howard and his wife Shirley (Julia McKenzie) are a double act. She’s worse than him. She comes out with terrible things and she’s very, very ambitious. She’s the main force behind all of it.
You’ve played characters of similar ilk to Howard before?
Yes, I’m quite good at villainous characters. There’s more meat in them. I’ve played lots of tough characters and heavies, horrible parts.
Do you know people like Howard?
I’ve been an actor for so many years now, the only people I ever meet are actors and kindred spirits. My whole world is actors, really. We’re all very nice.
The casting in this is superb. How was it during filming?
It’s a big cast, and the young cast especially are brilliant. I never worked with them all at any one time during the process of my part in the series so I didn’t get to meet everyone. When you’re filming your scenes it tends to be a little world you live in, and you’re not always aware of what else is going on with the other cast during filming and their storylines. Which is where Howard is in a way; he’s quite cut off. Howard and Shirley live in a little flat. They just want to expand and get more power, particularly for our son, Miles. They’d like to live in a big mansion I think. If he could have the money he’d go bigger. Even at 70, Howard strives to have more.
And the locations are stunning, are you familiar with the Cotswolds and West Country where filming took place?
It was breathtakingly beautiful, I don’t know how I’d get on living somewhere like Pagford, I like a lot of noise around me which is why I like living in London. That’s where I exist.
The Casual Vacancy is available on Blu-Ray and DVD on 15 June 2015.