Watch: Actor Mark Bonnar on 15 years of marriage to actress wife Lucy Gaskell
Mark Bonnar has starred in some of Britain’s biggest shows, including BBC’s Shetland and Line Of Duty. This month, he appears in Amazon Prime’s supernatural thriller, The Rig.
Yet, alongside TV success, it is his marriage to BBC’s Cutting It actress Lucy Gaskell that the Scottish actor lists as one of his biggest achievements.
"It was our 15-year wedding anniversary [in] December," he told Kate Thornton on podcast White Wine Question Time. "I couldn't believe it was 15 years we were celebrating because I'm still filled with love when I look at her, you know, which is a wonderful thing to feel."
Bonnar described his wife as "the most incredible human I’ve ever met". "She's really kind of taught me a lot about life and about love and care and commitment."
The couple met in 2003 during a stage production of Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard, and married four years later. They now live in Hertfordshire with their children, Martha, 11, and Samuel, 7.
Part of their success, Bonnar told Thornton, was their habit of "saying thank you" to each other.
"I think gratitude is a really important thing," he said. "It's showing respect to the other person." He revealed that he and Gaskell "always take the time to show the kids that we appreciate each other [and] what each other does in our daily lives."
The pair often have to juggle family life with TV filming schedules. For Shetland alone, Bonnar said he had been away for periods "over the course of 10 years", filming seven series of the BBC detective series.
"It's difficult obviously being away from home, you know, especially with the kids," he told Thornton. "Lucy has to take on that burden… she’s been incredible."
Listen to the full episode to hear Mark Bonnar discuss how he keeps his marriage alive, handling career knock backs and the challenges of working away from his family
Despite his huge success, however, Bonnar never takes his career for granted.
It was when "Martha was six months old", he revealed, that he decided to leave a successful career in theatre for television to support his growing family.
"Theatre doesn’t pay really, you know, it earns you just enough to kind of dot the Is and cross the Ts," he told Thornton. "But if want to, you know, buy a house or, or buy a slightly bigger house for your children… I thought I'd better earn some money pronto."
Despite landing his "first big job" in 2009, as a detective in BBC science fiction drama Paradox, with Tamzin Outhwaite, work quickly dried up again afterwards.
There was, Bonnar said, "virtually nothing" for "nine months". The future TV star wondered if he was suited to the medium.
"I always thought there was a secret to telly acting or acting on camera… there’s something that people have that I don’t have, you know?"
It turned out he was wrong.
Bonnar’s breakthrough came in 2014, with a standout role as DCC Michael Dryden in BBC1's Line of Duty. It was a role, however, that nearly didn’t happen.
"If you get this, it is a real game changer, it’ll really change your life," Bonnar recalls his agent telling him.
However, at a meeting to discuss the part, Bonnar spotted actor Robert Lindsay talking to the show’s casting director. "I was like, 'Oh, OK, well he's going to get it' – and he did."
Luckily for Bonnar, a call came a few months later to say Lindsay had pulled out.
"I started work on the Monday," said Bonnar, "in a cathedral in front of like, hundreds of extras doing a speech about a colleague we’d lost – so it was in at the deep end."
A role in Channel 4’s comedy sitcom Catastrophe followed in 2015. In it he played Chris, the acerbic friend of Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney’s fictional couple. It finally shot Bonnar’s TV star into orbit.
Since then, the roles have been non-stop, including a recent part in ITVX’s drama Litvinenko.
"I was in Malta at the beginning of year, I was in Belfast over the summer, and then I was in Glasgow at the end of the year doing the third series of [BBC’s] Guilt," he told Thornton.
As a result, Bonnar is currently taking a three-month sabbatical to spend time with Gaskell and their children. "I don’t like being away from home," he said. "I need to be with my family… because I miss it."
"Even if you're away for like four or five days," he continued, "you still get back and think there's little changes you can see… and you go… 'I missed that'."
Bonnar describes taking a break from work as "terrifying". Even now he revealed that there are no guarantees for any actor, regardless of profile.
"I did a tape [audition] for something before Christmas I’d really love to do, and I’m thinking, 'That’s gone, that’s a shame,'" he revealed. "These things still happen."
For now, he is determined to be home with his family for "a sustained period of time", and is enjoying doing "practical stuff" in the house.
"Samuel loves Minecraft so… I stencilled Minecraft clouds on the ceiling." He’s also putting up "LED lights that Martha got for Christmas", gestures that Bonnar describes as "love letters" to his family.
As for his wife of 15 years, "I do take Lucy cup of tea every morning in bed," he revealed. "I like to do it. It’s just the wee things, isn’t it?"