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Actor David Hasselhoff: 'My life is like one big panto'

David Hasselhoff is back on TV and hiding from the paps since his engagement was announced. Kate Whiting talks privacy, playing the 'game' and the Baywatch film

David Hasselhoff is hiding from the paparazzi in a Barbados gym, just days after getting engaged to his Welsh girlfriend, Hayley Roberts, who's 27 years his junior.

"We're trying to enjoy it, but there's a photographer lurking just about everywhere," says 63-year-old Hasselhoff, who's decided to demonstrate his multi-tasking talents, fitting in a session on the exercise bike while carrying out our interview over the phone.

"Now we know where to go, where not to go, make sure we suck our stomachs in so they don't keep saying I'm old and she's helping me around - other than that, it's been really great," he teases, fully acknowledging the interest in the couple's age-gap.

If his current predicament sounds like something from his UK-set Hoff the Record, which is back for a second run on Dave, it soon could be - as the Baywatch and Knight Rider star bases storylines in the mockumentary series on real events from his own never-dull life.

Like Larry David's Curb Your Enthusiasm and Friends star Matt LeBlanc in Episodes, Hoff the Record is a scripted comedy following a fictionalised version of Hasselhoff - he has five ex-wives rather than two, and an illegitimate German son instead of his two daughters, Taylor-Ann and Hayley.

"I don't think I'm going to get this close to such a good series for a long time, it's very difficult to get a series people will laugh out loud at and everyone loves," says Baltimore-born Hasselhoff.

Does he worry about his career in the same way his on-screen alter-ego does?

"Every actor would be lying if they didn't say they're only as good as their last movie. As soon as it's a hit, the first thing you get is get depressed, [thinking] 'how do I do another one?'"

Despite jokes about sucking his stomach in, Hasselhoff's looking pretty fit for a sexagenarian.

He's steered clear of drink since 'that' infamous home video of him, apparently in an alcoholic stupor, surfaced in 2007, and he says he wanted to tone up for his recent cameo in next year's Baywatch film, opposite Dwayne Johnson, who's playing Hasselhoff's character Mitch Buchannon, and heart-throb Zac Efron.

"Filming adds 20 pounds, so you want to stay a little bit tight. I do 20 minutes [on the bike] and get my heart rate up to 140, which is that of a 40-year-old, so I try to remain 40. I know I've cleaned my system out, burned some calories and you can have a little dessert if you want it. I try to stay away from sugar and alcohol and it makes a hell of a difference."

More than 1.1 billion people in 140 countries regularly tuned in to see Hasselhoff running along the sand in his red trunks as lifeguard Mitch in Baywatch, from 1989-2000, making it the most-watched show in the world.

So when The Hoff, who still has a pair of those trunks "somewhere", was approached about the new big-screen version, he wanted to make sure they would do the show justice.

"I spoke to the producer, to Dwayne and to Zac, and [said]: 'If you're going to make fun of the show, I'm not interested'.

"Dwayne's not a guy who wants to take the p**s out of anybody. He gave me a tremendous amount of respect and so did Zac. When I came on the set, they actually got what Baywatch is about. We always knew to play it real and we had heart, humour and action in every script. There was something for everybody."

Hasselhoff loves working in Blighty, largely because of the British sense of humour ("There are no boundaries"). He joined the Britain's Got Talent judging panel for a series in 2011, and he's done panto for seven Christmases.

"When I grew up, I never thought I'd be talking to a car [on TV], I always thought I'd be on Broadway. Theatre is where I wanted to be. So when panto came along, they said, 'It's very English and Americans don't get it' - and I said, 'Well I get it'.

"In fact, my whole life is like a panto, everywhere I go it's, 'Hoff, Hoff, Hoff', I'm constantly interacting with people," he adds. "I love panto. I keep saying, 'I'll never do it again', but I find it really a positive thing and also, this year, I'm going to be in Cardiff, which is even better because I'll be in Wales."

Cardiff holds a special place in Hasselhoff's heart, as that's where he met former shop assistant Hayley when he was filming Britain's Got Talent and she asked for an autograph.

With his return to the city for the aforementioned panto now set, could a Christmas wedding in Wales be on the cards?

"Ha ha ha - no, I won't have any time to plan! The only thing you get off is Christmas Day," Hasselhoff insists, before adding: "When we do get married, I'm sure people will hear about it, but if it is in Cardiff, it'll be a private ceremony with just family."

As well as being funny, Hoff The Record shines a light on our celebrity-hungry culture, and the blurry rules around privacy.

"There are a lot of private things in my life that should have remained private, but I faced those head on, because I want the world to see that it's not right to take away a person's privacy," says Hasselhoff.

Hoff The Record continues on Dave on Fridays

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