He's one of our best-loved stars of stage and screen, but Tom Conti has refrained from giving his most dramatic performance till now — delivering a blood-curdling warning about crossing the Channel in the New Year.
Serenely indifferent to the delicately poised Brexit negotiations, the 78-year-old Shirley Valentine actor tells me that he is 'nervous about driving to France' in 2021.
'I'm afraid that British cars will be vandalised,' he explains.
Tom Conti (pictured) has refrained from giving his most dramatic performance till now — delivering a blood-curdling warning about crossing the Channel in the New Year
Lest anyone accuse him of exaggeration, Conti insists that this prediction is not the product of a fevered imagination but of brutal experience.
'It's happened to me before,' he assures me.
'I once had all four tyres of my car slashed in Paris because it was a British motor with British number plates.
'I think we will see a lot more of that sort of thing after we leave the EU.'
Tensions are already running high between Boris Johnson and France's President Emmanuel Macron over post-Brexit fishing quotas.
A quarter of France's national catch currently comes from Britain's waters. So Conti's undiplomatic intervention will do nothing to restore the entente cordiale.
The 78-year-old Shirley Valentine actor tells me that he is 'nervous about driving to France' in 2021 (Port of Calais pictured)
Conti, who stars opposite Liza Goddard in William Douglas Home's Lloyd George Knew My Father, which opens tonight at Windsor's Theatre Royal, adds: 'The French can get a bit frisky.'
Raised in Paisley, west of Glasgow, by an Italian immigrant father, Alfonso, and a mother, Mary, who was an Irish Catholic, Conti knows what he's talking about.
Eight years ago, he joined a DNA project which revealed a startling Gallic ancestry.
Geneticists claimed the Scottish actor was directly related to Napoleon Bonaparte.
Let's hope it's enough to safeguard him from the attentions of the gilets jaunes — France's volatile yellow-vest protesters.
Tensions are already running high between Boris Johnson and France's President Emmanuel Macron over post-Brexit fishing quotas (pictured)
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