'Retirement? Not with young kids on the go. I'll be working until I conk out'
Larry Lamb talks about his family, appearing on I'm a Celebrity, and the man who inspired him to keep active.
For many, the prospect of turning 70 may be daunting. Not for Larry Lamb. The actor, best known for his roles in EastEnders and Gavin and Stacey, is showing no signs of slowing down.
Despite approaching the milestone birthday in October, Lamb has returned to the screen in the newly released feature film The Hatton Garden Job, and, with no plans for retirement, is keen to keep active.
"I exercise every day," he says. "I walk a lot and in the summertime I swim as often as I can. I just try and stay active. I'm not very good at not having things to do. I like to be busy all the time.
"I feel I'm the same person I always was, I'm just older. I could be 18 as far as I'm concerned - well, not 18, because I was lost in space when I was 18. But certainly somewhere between 30 and 50."
The London-born star attributes his good health, in part, to a helping hand from GOPO, a patented food supplement made from rose-hip, which he praises for helping with the "various creaks and groans" that come with ageing.
"You hear all these people talking about magic potions but I knew if I didn't take something it was all going to go wrong."
However, it was a particular incident 15 years ago that inspired him to keep active.
"I was walking along a ridge towards Salisbury," he explains.
"one of those old roads that runs for miles across the country and I could see along this ridge, probably two or three miles ahead, there was somebody walking.
"I pulled up right alongside this really old guy and he was really working at walking. We started to talk and he was pushing 90.
"He said, 'All my knees and my hips, all my joints, are riddled with arthritis and I have to keep walking, because if I don't, it's all going to pack in and I'm going to be finished'.
"That's stayed with me. I know I've got to keep as active as I can."
When it comes to mental health, Lamb is equally frank. He talks openly of the therapy he received following a turbulent childhood with a verbally abusive father, and is extremely positive about its results.
"I had a rough time when I was a kid, and like a lot of people in that situation, it didn't get put right.
"In the end I was able to afford to get myself time with a couple of psychiatrists who really helped me understand what was at the root of my problems."
Acting had also been great therapy, he adds.
"You can understand more about yourself. Playing Archie Mitchell, you sort of get to understand about the negative side of yourself and in the same way, you see the positive of other characters you play."
Despite his difficult start in life, Lamb is very much a family man, with the interview taking place while he is on holiday in Venice with his youngest daughter.
"My life has been a fascinating series of experiences and I've got a glorious extended family," he says.
Lamb has four children: radio and television presenter George Lamb, from his second marriage to Linda Martin; two daughters, Eloise and Eva-Mathilde Lamb, with former partner Clare Burt; and eldest daughter Vanessa Lamb - he has not seen her since she was seven months old - with his first wife Anita Wisbey. After opening up during his time on I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! about wanting to contact his estranged daughter, Lamb is reluctant to discuss this aspect of his life.
He remains equally guarded when discussing his love life after it was revealed, post-jungle, he had split from long-term partner Burt and was in a relationship with artist Marie Hugo.
Workwise, he is as busy as ever. After finishing seventh in 2016's I'm A Celeb, he returns to portraying a villain as one of the hardened criminals behind the now infamous Hatton Garden jewellery heist. The film follows the events of the 2015 robbery, in which goods worth £200m were stolen in a plot masterminded by Brian Reader, played by Larry.
"I've done really good work on this and it's a bloody good film. It's been well written, well directed, beautifully photographed, and as far as I'm concerned, I've kept up my side of the bargain.
"I've done a lot of films but they've never really come to much. So to get a proper part in a film was a real treat."
The heist made headlines due to the age of the criminals behind it, dubbed by the press as "diamond wheezers".
However, Lamb was delighted at the opportunity to play an older character: "The difference is, this is about old men. They don't have to age down, they can just play themselves. It's rather handy really."
For Lamb, age has brought an increased confidence in his ability as an actor.
Describing himself as his own worst critic, he says he found his portrayal of Reader convincing: "I've become a better actor. Not for Hatton Garden. I have become, over the years, more mature and have gotten better at it."
Playing Albert Square's sinister Archie Mitchell between 2008 and 2009 helped him prepare for the film role, and he sees similarities between the two characters.
"He's much more involved in setting this job up. You don't really go into the personal side of him at all. But he's every bit as dark as Archie Mitchell."
Lamb says he has no plans to call time on his acting career. "I've got to keep working, I've got young children. Forget about retirement - I'll be working until I conk out."
Eldest son George has joined his father in the world of show business, and daughter Eloise, studying at the Brit School of Performing Arts, may also follow in his footsteps.
"He relishes the opportunity to share screen time with his family, describing it as "a big plus".
Scheduled to work with George on a new show for Channel Five, in which the duo cycle around the national parks of Britain, Lamb certainly won't be taking it easy any time soon.
For more information and advice on how to reduce joint pain visit www.gopo.co.uk. GOPO Joint Health, £18.99 for 120 and £28.49 for 200 capsules, available from supermarkets and pharmacies nationwide.
- The Hatton Garden Job is out now