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Exclusive : I prefer shopping to football... Sarah says i’m secretly gay ! (buffy mention)

Antonia Hoyle

Saturday 29 April 2006, by Webmaster

NOT much can make Anthony Head lose his cool. In his time, the suave star has been pursued by legions of bloodthirsty vampires as well as an army of devoted female admirers - without so much as breaking a sweat. But he met his match in Little Britain.

Anthony who plays the Prime Minister in the hit BBC1 comedy, was left in a spin after one particularly intimate scene with his lovestruck aide Sebastian, played by David Walliams.

"David asked if he could kiss me to make a scene stronger," recalls Anthony with a grin. "We puckered up, then he opened his entire mouth and clamped it over my face like a limpet.

"It took me completely by surprise. There were no tongues involved, but it was odd kissing a man. The lips feel different..."

That screen kiss didn’t dent Anthony’s image as a heart-throb - one which began while flirting with Sharon Maughan over coffee in the famous Nescafe Gold Blend ads and was reinforced as he chased the undead in the US TV series Buffy The Vampire Slayer.

But his macho image does take a knock as he reveals that he likes shopping, hates football and his long-term partner, 41-year-old Sarah Fisher, thinks he’s a big girl’s blouse.

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"I’m in touch with feminine side," counters Anthony, 52, who guest stars in tonight’s episode of Dr Who. "I love shopping for clothes and I’ve even done my daughters’ make-up.

"I reckon quite a lot of men like shopping really. It’s fantastic trawling Covent Garden with the girls.

"I’m not really into football and all that nonsense. Sarah says I’m probably gay!"

We meet in a hotel in Bath, near the Somerset farmhouse he shares with Sarah and their two daughters - Emily, 17, and 15-year-old Daisy.

Anthony, who looks ruggedly handsome in a leather jacket and worn jeans, has just done the school run and dropped Sarah at the hairdressers for a "cut and colour".

He met Sarah, who runs an animal training centre, in the early ’80s. Back then, she was an administrative assistant at the National Theatre where he was performing in Danton’s Death. They have been together for 23 years and, by all accounts, she’s the one in control of the relationship.

"She tells me to ’get over myself’ quite a lot," he smiles. "There’s nothing better than coming home to her. I might come off set with my head up my a***, but as soon as I’m back with Sarah, I’m grounded again. I wouldn’t say she wears the trousers, but I probably ask for her advice more than she asks for mine.

"I’ve asked her to marry me several times, but she’s not interested. She says ’f*** off’ and then runs off to throw up. I’ve given up now.

THE reason we’ve been together so long is partly because I’m away filming for so much of the time. I’d drive her mad if I was around all the time, getting under her feet."

Not long after they got together, Anthony became a household name, thanks to the Gold Blend adverts, which were screened between 1987 and 1993. Shown both in Britain and the US, they typecast him as a super-smooth English gent and helped him win the role of Rupert Giles in Buffy, alongside Sarah Michelle Gellar.

"She’s as normal as anyone who’s been in the business since the age of six can be," says Anthony, when asked about Gellar’s reputation as a diva. "She didn’t have a childhood, so she’s going to come across as cold and remote. But she’s such a sweet cake."

Although he was surrounded by beautiful twenty-something actresses while in Hollywood, he insists he never even considered straying.

"I wonder about these middle-aged men who run off with younger girls," he says. "Surely they get bored? It’s an empty dream.

"It can be soul-less out there. The women are far too complicated to get involved with. I’ve never cheated on Sarah. If you met her you’d understand why."

After a seven-year stint in Buffy, Anthony returned to Britain to play Chester Grant in BBC1’s Monarch Of The Glen. More recently he was the Prime Minister in Little Britain, a show he denies has ended after three series.

"There’s no reason why there shouldn’t be another," he says. "The guys are touring now so they couldn’t film it this year, but who knows what will happen in the future?"

ALTHOUGH he makes a convincing PM, he says he’d never be tempted to walk the corridors of power.

"Good God, no - why would anyone want to be Prime Minister?" he says. "Politicians just jump on to issues they think will win them votes and end up making a cock-up of it.

"I thought when all the Iraq stuff went on that Blair must know something we don’t. It turns out he didn’t. It was only around the time of the Dr David Kelly scandal that I realised they’re just as fallible as the rest of us. That scares me a lot."

Anthony might soon be heading back to America. He’s done a pilot for a US comedy series, Him And Us, based on the life of an ageing rock star and his entourage. It costars Kim Cattrall, who he says is "a darling - sexy and funny, but quite shy and nothing like Samantha from Sex And The City".

It is loosely based on the antics of Sir Elton John, who also contributed to the pilot.

"He wrote a couple of songs for the show which I recorded with him," says Anthony. "He’ll openly admit he’s a bit of a diva, but he was lovely - huggy and welcoming, too. There were no tantrums."

If the show does get the go-ahead, it will mean Anthony spending long periods away from his family again. But he reckons any separation will be easier now than it was during the Buffy years.

"It’s a shorter contract so it would only mean five months away each year," he explains. "Plus the girls are older now and able to fly out to see me on their own. We’ll work at it as a family."

Both Emily and Daisy are keen to act, and have already had some success in BBC children’s programmes and drama festivals.

"My knee-jerk reaction was, ’Do you know what you’re getting into?’" says Anthony. "But Sarah just told me to, ’Get over it’ - and said that if they got to 40 and hadn’t pursued their dream then I’d be the person who stopped them.

"It’s a tough industry, but they’re passionate about it and I have to support them. If you try to shield your kids from disappointment you’ll become a disappointment yourself."

Tonight, Emily and Daisy will be watching their dad’s guest appearance in Dr Who. Anthony plays Mr Finch, the evil headmaster of a comprehensive school which has been taken over by shapeshifting aliens called Krillitanes.

"The script is great and I liked the idea of being able to do a character part, rather than a romantic role," he says.

He also enjoyed working with David Tennant, who has taken over as the Doctor, and Billie Piper - his sidekick, Rose.

"Billie is absolutely adorable, a genuinely lovely person," smiles Anthony. "She’s cute as hell, but I don’t find her sexy. She’s half my age. I wouldn’t go there. It’s like when I was on Buffy and people used to say, ’Wahey, you’re working with Sarah Michelle Gellar’.

"I’m not holier than thou, I just can’t think of them in that way - I’m 52!" Even so, he is still a big kid at heart.

"Sometimes I forget I’m in a 52-year-old’s body," he admits. "In my head I’m still about six.

"I’m amazed anyone takes me seriously. They must know I’m an inept idiot."

DOCTOR Who is on BBC1 tonight at 7.20pm

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