WHEN your typical working day involves frolicking in the Suffolk sunshine and knocking a tennis ball about with your mates, job satisfaction is pretty much a given.
So Shaun Evans could barely believe his luck when he started filming The Last Weekend, which follows two couples sharing a Bank holiday break in a country house.
“The weather was beautiful and we were out playing golf, playing tennis, cycling, and going down to the beach,” the Walton-born actor enthuses.
“Instead of being stuck in one place, we were doing lots of physical activities. I was like, ‘I’m getting paid for this? Are you kidding me?’”
Idyllic as the setting sounds, the story played out in the three-part drama is far more sinister.
An adaptation of a novel by Blake Morrison, it sees long-running rivalries return as primary school teacher Ian, played by Evans, and wife Em (Claire Keelan) join his privileged university friends Ollie (Rupert Penry-Jones) and Daisy (Genevieve O’Reilly) on a weekend away.
The two men get competitive as they resurrect an old bet, challenging each other to a triathlon, and Ian’s strong feelings for Daisy come back to the surface.
The actor says: “Initially you have a warm feeling towards Ian, but, as it goes on, slightly darker, more sinister undertones are revealed about the character. I think we’ve managed to achieve that with the three films as well as Blake Morrison did in the book, so I’m really proud of it in that respect.”
In bringing their chemistry to life, it helped that Shaun had already built up a friendship with Rupert, having worked with the actor on TV shows Silk and Whitechapel.
“This is the third job we’ve done together this year, randomly, which was great, and we had the fortune of getting on,” he says.
“For the nature of these parts, it saved a lot of the imagination stuff, in terms of pretending we’d been best mates for years.”
The 32-year-old speaks with obvious fondness for the part, and would even go so far as to say it’s his favourite role so far. But he adds: “Whatever you’re working on at the time feels like it’s the best, though, doesn’t it? It’s like with girlfriends. You always think your current girlfriend is the best ever!”
He will soon have another highly- cherished character to get his teeth into, however, as he prepares to reprise the role of the young Inspector Morse in a new series of Endeavour.
Shaun played the part in a one-off prequel in January, and clearly impressed producers enough to be asked back for more.
“Everyone who’s seen it or who I’ve spoken to has been incredibly complimentary and only positive things have been said. It’s obviously very gratifying,” he says.
With roles in shows such as Noughties drama Teachers and Martina Cole’s The Take, Evans will be a familiar face to many TV viewers. But he’s happy to enjoy a level of relative anonymity when out and about.
“To be totally honest, it really suits me that no one comes up to me on the street. And if it ever does happen it’s often because they recognise me from something I wouldn’t expect, like something from a couple of years ago,” he says.
“There seems to be no pattern to it, which is nice, but it doesn’t happen to me all the time, which is also nice.”
Although he has worked in the US, the actor, who is now based in London, expresses no great desire to go knocking on Hollywood’s door for the time being, insisting that he just wants to keep working – whether at home or across the pond.
“Wherever my bag is, it’s always ready to be packed, and wherever the good, interesting work is, I’m ready to go.”
The Last Weekend begins on ITV1, on Sunday, at 9pm