Filming scenes for "Trainer" (BBC1, Sunday) on location at Newbury races, David McCallum felt extremely self-conscious the first time he walked out into the crowd -- he was dressed for his part as professional gambler John Grey in an Edwardian suit and World War One infantry boots.
'But then I looked around and realized that I was surrounded by real-life punters who were dressed equally eccentrically!" he says. 'That's what makes the racing world such a superb background for a television series--it's fascinating and wonderful, full of the most extraordinary characters.'
A computer buff, his research for the part included writing his own special computer programme for picking winners.
"I figure it's a matter of percentages and if you write a programme into which you ten feed the maximum amount of information, it might help you to come up with the likely winners. "
But he insists that he has never put his system to the test.
"I'm not a gambler," he says. 'The only regular flutter I have is on the New York State Lottery."
David, 58 was born and grew up in Scotland but has lived in America since the Sixties, when he went to Hollywood to appear in THE GREAT ESCAPE AND THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD. Then he became a star overnight with the success of the TV series, The Man From U.N.C.L.E.
Despite many successes since, he's still best remembered as secret agent Illya Kuryakin. Bit it doesn't bother him.
"I was a Glasgow boy who went to Hollywood and "made good" to a certain extent. It was as if every dream you can imagine was fulfilled. "
There was upset when his first wife, Jill Ireland (who died earlier this year) left him for Charles Bronson. But he then met Katherine, with whom he has just celebrated his 25th wedding anniversary.
One of the only drawbacks for David, if TRAINER should become a long-running success, is he'll be separated for long periods from Katherine - a top designer - and their children, Peter 20, and Sophie, 16.
But whatever happens, he cant imagine he'll ever move back to Britain permanently.
'Katherine would never leave NY, says David, and although it's more abrasive than it used to be, New York is still the most vibrant city I've every live in.
written by Michael Cable
Never act with animals or children is the traditional advice to perfermers. Now David McCallum has added toy trains to that list since starring in "THE MAN WHO LIVED AT THE RITZ." As Charley Ritz, McCallum entertained himself by playing with a massive toy railway system. But he found that with all five railways in motion at once, it ws impossible to make himself heard. "Most of my scenes are in my roomwith the model railway and, thought I was only a few feet from other cast members, we couldn't hear each other,' he says. "I don't want to work with small trains again. Give me dogs and kids any time."ITV, Sunday: The Man Who Lived At the Ritz.