Ben Miller is back as the genius University of Cambridge criminologist living with obsessive compulsive disorder

Wednesday: Professor T (ITV1, 9pm)
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Think of Belgian detectives, and who immediately springs to mind?

If you’re an Agatha Christie fan, the answer must undoubtedly be Hercule Poirot, one of the Queen of Crime’s most popular sleuths.

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However, did you know that Professor Jasper Tempest’s roots also lie in the country? The series in which he’s the main character, which is returning for a third run, is an adaptation of a Belgian TV drama, in which Koen De Bouw starred as Professor T, or Jasper Teerlinck, to give him his full name.

Can Professor T get out of jail?Can Professor T get out of jail?
Can Professor T get out of jail?

The show ran for three series from 2015 to 2016 before the plug was pulled – does that mean the latest run will be the final one for Ben Miller’s take on the character? Absolutely not – ITV has already commissioned a fourth season.

Miller is thrilled to be back in the saddle as the genius University of Cambridge criminologist living with obsessive compulsive disorder; he claims that unlike other shows he’s worked on, there’s room to manoeuvre creatively, something he loves.

“You have an agreed plan and a script but you have complete freedom to change things and move things around,” claims the actor, who rose to fame as one half of comedy duo Armstrong and Miller, alongside Alexander Armstrong. “If something’s not working, we can decide to go in a completely different direction.

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“Bridgerton was almost like the opposite – where every single beat, every single look has been decided beforehand and you are striving to fulfil someone else’s vision. That produced a brilliant show. But it’s that risk-taking thing… I just love being able to change things on the day.”

Miller also feels he has an affinity with Jasper, having also suffered from OCD – albeit a different form – a few decades ago.

“Professor T is germophobic and places things in order. Mine was about numbers, about touching objects or walking in and out of a room a certain number of times.”

“I hid it pretty well – I could disguise it. It was a great comfort to me. It’s one of the things people often use to deal with anxiety… it is obviously something of a ritual and you can’t leave the room or do the next task until you’ve done it, and then people start to notice. Then I was cripplingly embarrassed about it.

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“I still have anxiety,” he adds, although cognitive behavioural therapy has helped. “What I’ve noticed is that if those behaviours come back, I don’t really panic about them any more. I just think, OK, my anxiety’s up so I need to do more to relieve it: meditation, exercise, listening to music, and the biggest one of all – feeling the anxiety, not trying to escape or control it. At the end of the day, the anxious feelings don’t last that long if you walk into them.”

If only he could pass that on to the professor.

The new episodes begin where their predecessors left off – with the boffin behind bars awaiting trial. Being surrounded by strange smells, sights and sounds is making his life a misery – but Dan and Lisa may be able to help by bringing him a murder case involving siblings to take a look at.

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