Paul cuts a dashing figure in his PO’s uniform: “It’s not quite the first time I’ve donned a uniform – I’ve played a policeman before! But I could get quite attached to wearing it!”
About his character Mark: “He’s been working in HMP Larkhall on a different wing for a few years, which is where he met Gina. They have a fiery relationship. He’s a very straightforward, down-to-earth sort of bloke though he does have a very short temper and gets very jealous within his relationship with Gina. His attitude towards prisoners is ‘if you behave, we’ll all get on nicely, if you don’t behave then you’ll see the nasty side of me – but not violent’. He’s not a corrupt prison officer. He’s there to do his job.
“I was really pleased to be joining Bad Girls as I have tended to play bad characters. Like in Emmerdale, I played a bad guy who went ridiculous. I think Mark’s a good guy which is nice. In Emmerdale I was put away for 10 years so I’ve come from one prison to another – but this time I’m on the right side of the bars! It’s bizarre to be working with Claire [King] again so soon.
“I’m a good boy in a bad girls’ world! It’s unusual being in the minority, but I’m not complaining. I’ve never been surrounded by so many women. It’s fantastic,” he says with a twinkle in his eye.
Paul’s come face to face with a real thief: “My wife and I were eating in a restaurant which opened out onto the street. A thief leant in and ripped a woman’s Rolex off her wrist. Me being me, I immediately gave chase! It was a bit like Starsky and Hutch, I was jumping over car bonnets. The guy hopped on a bus and luckily a mate was driving by and I hijacked him and his car saying ‘follow that bus’! He jumped off the bus and we gave chase again on foot. By this time he was knackered and I was knackered and I said ‘hand it over’ - but at the time, I didn’t have a clue what it was he’d really nicked, so I didn’t know what to ask for! I looked around and I’d obviously walked into his ‘manor’ and we were surrounded by what seemed to be his gang. We thought it best to back off with our dignity intact! When we got back to the restaurant we discovered that in actual fact the thief had dropped the watch when he saw me start to give chase - no one had tried to stop me!”
TV viewers will recognise Paul from his many television roles, which include appearances in Peak Practice, Heartbeat and Doctors. He is best known as Steve Marchant in the long-running soap Emmerdale – in which his screen wife was Kim, played of course by Claire King, Bad Girls’ Karen Betts.