Richard Armitage, 39, plays MI5 officer Lucas North in the current series of the BBC drama Spooks, which attracts more than 5.5m viewers.
In 2006, Armitage began a three-series leading role as the murderous Sir Guy of Gisborne in the BBC’s Robin Hood. Christmas of the same year saw him star opposite Dawn French in the final two episodes of The Vicar of Dibley.
Armitage is single and lives in south-east London.
Did you think you would get to where you are?
No, I certainly did not. When I was training at drama school I focused on classical theatre. Television was something I did not plan for or expect, but once you become known in a certain area, people want you to keep doing it. My goal is to diversify.
The role of Lucas is purely an imaginary one for me but the similarity between us is perhaps our political affiliation. His worldview is quite open and balanced, yet he is quite mistrusting of the government, which is probably how I feel.
If you had £1m at your disposal now, how would you spend it?
I would buy a ski chalet
in the French Alps. I wouldn’t rent it out but would let my mates and family use it whenever they wanted. It would be brilliant, and I would load the fridge with champagne and leave the key under the mat. For a four-bedroom place, you are looking at upwards of £1m.
Have you had time for personal financial planning?
I have an accountant, obviously, because I’m self employed and I use an independent financial adviser. I trust my accountant because we have worked together for a long time now. I am quite wary of speculation, so I go for slightly safer products with less return. I am not good at taking huge financial risks. I find that a bit scary. I’m always suspicious of really big promises. Small, slow growth is the best I expect from an investment. I’m a real saver: frugal – like
Have you made any pension provision?
Five years ago, I started a pension through my union, Equity. I do believe in pensions. I know it will not be my only source of income but it is one of a number of investments that I want to make. I am not relying on the state pension to be there when I am 60.
Have you taken steps to pass on your wealth?
No, I have not made a will and I have not thought about making one. My instruction to my parents is that I would rather they enjoy their retirement than leave me anything when they go. I am much happier watching them enjoying life. I love spoiling them – they gave me so much. My mum went out to work as a school secretary especially so I could go to stage school when I was 14, and my dad worked in nuclear engineering. They love watching Spooks and are really proud of me. I like to think this is a small return on their
What is your commitment to philanthropy?
I regularly give money to Shelter, Barnardo’s, the Salvation Army and the NSPCC. I give things like signed photographs and DVDs to charity auctions as well.
Do you allow yourself the odd indulgence?
I suppose I see travel for leisure as a kind of indulgence. I go skiing to the lower Alps in France, the Haute-Savoie region, and I try to make two or three short trips during the ski season. I’m good at weekend breaks and I have never gone away anywhere for longer than a week.
After my first year on Spooks, one indulgence I allowed myself was to buy a nice car, the first car not inherited from (and serviced by) my dad. It’s
a BMW. Occasionally I drive to the set, but I was quite nervous of being
seen as a show-off, so I would get in extra early and park it behind the trailer so no one would
What has been your most prudent investment?
Probably my two-bedroom house, which I have owned for four years. I don’t think it has gone up in value but I don’t mind because it is just my base. I did not really stretch myself to buy the place but I’m fairly confident it hasn’t dropped in value either.
What is the most you have paid for a bottle of fine wine or champagne?
I would never buy champagne for myself, but the most I have paid for a bottle of Chablis is £14 to celebrate the end of series nine of Spooks. I bought this wine to share with the others to say thank you for their hard work, and everyone contributed something.
What is your money-saving tip in hard times?
I would have a good night in with a bottle of wine and a DVD of a classic film, like Hitchcock’s North by Northwest, one of my favourites.