Call The Midwife actor Stephen McGann talks knees, sex in your 50s and cabbage

Actor, author and science communicator Stephen McGann (56) answers some probing health questions...

Stephen McGann, one of the four McGann actor brothers from Liverpool, whose ancestors left Co Roscommon during the Great Famine
Lucy Elkins

:: Can you run up the stairs?

Yes. I don't work out as I live in the countryside and the gym is quite far away, but I'm always on the go.

:: Get your five-a-day?

I get more like 10 at the moment because we have started ordering seasonal vegetable boxes. Whoever thought a cabbage could be so nice?

:: Ever dieted?

There is nothing like seeing your mug on TV to make you aware if you need to lose weight. When I think that, I cut back. I'm 5ft 11in and weigh 12st 3lb.

:: Any vices?

Coffee – I drink it like a fish. I haven't had alcohol for 25 years because it makes me depressed, and I gave up cigarettes in my early 20s.

:: Any family ailments?

As a child I had asthma, which I inherited from Mum. My son had it, too. He's 22 and, as with me, it went when he was a teenager. My brothers and I all also have dodgy knees.

:: Worst illness?

The flu in 1992. I was driving to see my mother-in-law and left home feeling a bit weird. By the time I arrived, four hours later, I was shaking. The fever hit and my heart was racing. I was scared and couldn't leave my bed for 36 hours.

:: Pop any pills?

I take vitamin D for the famous knees, on the advice of my physiotherapist.

:: Would you have plastic surgery?

Probably not, but never say never.

:: Has any health book changed your life?

Clearing The Air by Tim Smedley. It's about air pollution and reading it made me change my car.

:: Do you cope well with pain?

I'm not a superhero, but I'm no softy, either. I've whinged with a cold, but I've also acted in a play with a fever.

:: Is sex important?

Yes. At my age, sex is about love and companionship, as well as comfort and kindness. It's fantastic.

:: Tried alternative remedies?

No. Medicine is flawed but it has saved me and my loved ones countless times.

:: Ever been depressed?

I had a bad bout as a teenager and was put on medication. We can be snobbish about antidepressants, but I never saw anything solved by having a stiff upper lip.

:: What keeps you awake at night?

Not much, but I sometimes lie awake over a loose slate on the roof.

:: Any phobias?

I had agoraphobia at 17 and would feel terrified about going outside. It lasted for four months. Understanding its causes helped me to overcome it.

:: Like to live for ever?

With my boring internal monologue droning on? No, I'd drive myself nuts.

:: Stephen McGann is supporting Public Health England's flu vaccination campaign,

© Solo dmg media

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