TV star Robert Daws says wages for actors are so poor nowadays that he struggles to make ends meet.
Daws, who played Dr Choake in Poldark and Tuppy Glossop in Jeeves And Wooster, recently turned his hand to writing crime novels to help pay the bills.
He is now author of a detective series set on Gibraltar.
His books, The Rock and The Poisoned Rock, have attracted more than 100 five-star reviews from readers on Amazon, but he says he is yet to make a profit from his pen.
Enjoy: Actor Robert Daws, who played Dr Choake in Poldark and Tuppy Glossop in Jeeves And Wooster, believes in enjoying the money you have
He has almost nothing saved up for his retirement but does not allow himself to worry about old age.
Instead, he would rather spend money on his family now and enjoy life as much as he can.
Aged 58, he is married to actor Amy Robbins, 46, and has three children: Ben, 16 (by his first wife), Betsy, 14, and 11-year-old May.
He is currently starring in Sir Alan Ayckbourn’s theatre production, How The Other Half Loves, which goes on tour this Wednesday. His next book, Killing Rock, will be published early next year.
What did your parents teach you about money?
To enjoy money when you have the good fortune to possess it and to be careful when you do not.
My father was a marine artist and my mother was a traditional housewife who stayed at home with her children. If money was tight, I was not aware of it.
They got by and I never went without, but we certainly were not extravagant or stonkingly wealthy. For example, we only went on our first holiday when I was 11 and that was to Broadstairs in Kent.
What ho Jeeves: Robert played Tuppy Glossop in Jeeves And Wooster with Hugh Laurie in the 1990s
How much pocket money did you get as a child?
Twenty pence a week from the age of nine, which went quite a way in the early 1970s.
It was enough to keep me in Bazooka Joe bubble gum, which made me happy.
What was the first paid work you ever did?
Playing the back legs of a pantomime camel in Aladdin for £17.50 a week one Christmas holiday while I was a student at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.
Given I was young and I had only just started at the academy, I was not asked to do the front legs.
Have you ever struggled to make ends meet?
Yes. The last two years have been pretty tough. Like many actors, I am working much harder for far less.
The well paid jobs do not seem to pay nearly so well nowadays. Of course, the top stars will always be fine, but for actors who are the hardcore of the industry, wages have stayed much the same for the past ten years.
As well as acting, I write crime novels and that is what I have been focusing on over the past two years. I had a poor acting year the year before I started writing, so decided to add another string to my bow.
I am now in the middle of my third novel in a series called The Rock – about a couple of detectives on Gibraltar. I love writing and some time next year I may even make a profit – or so I have been told.
New job: One of Robert’s crime novels
Have you ever been paid silly money for a job?
Yes. Back in the 1980s, I did a commercial for Settlers Tums that paid the bills for about 18 months.
All I had to do was rub my tummy with a furrowed brow like I had indigestion, then take a Settlers Tum and mow the lawn with a smile on my face.
It only took a day of my time to reach such great artistic heights and I think they paid me £2,000. That does not sound like much now, but back then it was a lot of money. Those Settlers Tums did wonders for my bank balance.
What was the best year of your life in terms of the money you made?
It was 2000. I had some good jobs – a series called Sword Of Honour and another called Take A Girl Like You.
They paid better than normal. I probably made about £75,000, which was the equivalent of today earning around £115,000.
What is the most expensive thing you have ever bought yourself for fun?
An antique reclining chair, which I bought in 2001 for £1,200. I was walking around an antiques place in Woburn, Bedfordshire, turned a corner and there was this chair with a note on it saying: ‘Robert Daws chair’.
I thought that somebody was taking the mickey so I asked the owner if it was a practical joke.
He said: ‘Oh no, it was made in 1827 by a man called Robert Daws.’ He patented the first reclining chair.
So I decided I had to buy it and it is now in my hall. I have to say it has not been a great investment. I think its value has gone down but I do sit on it occasionally and recline.
What is the biggest money mistake you have ever made?
Trusting people who did not deliver. Several times, I have lost work contracts by staying loyal to people who have subsequently let me down. I always think the best of people so this mistake may well happen again.
What is the best money decision you have made?
Buying my home, an Edwardian five-bedroom villa in Bedfordshire. I purchased it in 2005 for about £400,000 and it has gone up in value since then – everything has – but I have not checked.
The thought of selling it is far from my mind. It has been a fantastic family home.
Do you save into a pension or invest in the stock market?
I have a tiny pension through Equity, the actors’ union. But I only pay about £38 into it every month.
I do not invest in the stock market because I have no understanding of it. It does not worry me that I do not have much of a pension because I cannot let it.
I get by but I have never been in a position where I could have put huge chunks of money into a pension.
Even in the financially good years there were other things to pay for, what with three children and lots of responsibilities.
Also, I think you should enjoy the money you have got and put it into your family rather than worrying about the future.
Maybe I get that approach from my parents. Anyway, there is an old saying: ‘Actors don’t retire, the phone just stops ringing.’ I am doing everything to make sure it does not stop ringing. Hopefully I will not be a burden on my children in extreme old age.
The hump: Robert’s first job was as the back end of a camel in panto
How much cash do you typically carry?
Probably between £10 and £20. I like to make sure I always have enough for an emergency pint and some exorbitantly-priced ice creams for the kids.
What is the one little luxury you like to treat yourself to?
Nothing beats a trip to the cinema, a strawberry frozen yogurt or a bucket of toffee Butterkist popcorn.
That, for me, is luxury. I will sit through any old film as long as those things are in place. I love the cinema and go as often as I can.
If you were Chancellor of the Exchequer, what is the first thing you would do?
Abolish student tuition fees. I think we have to give future generations the best start in life.
I do not think we should saddle young people with a huge debt burden when they leave university. I think this country should do a lot better than that.
Do you think it is important to give to charity?
Yes and if you cannot give money, give time. My main charity for 23 years has been Barnardo’s. I think what it does is magnificent.
What is your number one financial priority?
My family – making sure the quality of their life is secure and they feel comfortable. I had a great childhood and grew up feeling fortunate. I want to provide that for my children.
Robert Daws was talking to Donna Ferguson.