On Air Now
Heart Breakfast with Jamie Theakston and Amanda Holden 6:30am - 10am
TV star Martin Clunes has branded car insurance company Churchill ''rude'' for dropping him from its adverts after he was disqualified from driving.
The Men Behaving Badly and Doc Martin star, who lives on a farm in Dorset, featured in the lucrative television adverts alongside the company's trademark nodding dog for almost a year.
But Churchill Insurance axed Clunes in November after he accrued 12 points on his licence for speeding offences and magistrates banned him from driving.
Clunes, 51, who featured with an animatronic version of the Churchill dog travelling together on a motorbike and sidecar through the English countryside, told the Radio Times that he had not expected to be dropped.
''I was very surprised by their reaction. It was neurotic and very heavy-handed,'' he said.
''Quite rude, actually. They never said goodbye. They never said thanks. They washed their hands of me completely.''
Clunes lives with his family on a 135-acre Dorset farm with horses, dogs, cats, sheep, chickens and cows.
He told the magazine: ''I imagine there'll come a time when television withdraws itself from me.
I do love my job. But I'd really like the farm to wash its face. That's still a way off, because there's been a lot of investment in infrastructure.
It wasn't really farmed before and it is now, so that's been an outlay, which will take a while to get back.''
He said that he had been lambing for two years, adding: ''It's a real effort to get up at 2am and go out into the cold and wet to check them, but once you get there, it's sort of a maternity ward.
I do quite like the ewes, especially when they're pregnant, and when you get that first bleat from the newborn lamb, it's pretty good.''
Clunes admitted that working on the farm was a learning curve and that he had made some mistakes.
He said: ''There was one occasion when the (newborn) lamb was already dead, and I went back in and pulled another one out that was perfectly healthy.
I left the mother that night, but when I went back she was obviously poorly, and then she died, probably because there was another lamb inside that had died.
I hadn't gone back in and looked for a third, and I felt really, really bad about that.''
The actor said that he would like to see the working horse - the subject of his new ITV documentary - make a comeback in British farming.
''I'm not in a position to tell anybody how to farm, but there are too many reasons for a farmer not to get out of a tractor. It's their business, I suppose, but people do manage without them,'' he said.
It's slower, but without tractors, farmers wouldn't have the expense of diesel.''