Just like a fine wine, actor Nigel Havers has matured nicely.

Lisa Stevens meets the man with the good looks and smooth-talking charm Nigel Havers belies his 53 years.

As women continue to go weak at the knees at the mere mention of his name, and while directors fight over his talents, his hold on audiences looks set to continue.

His appeal is such that the actor and director even has a faux political party named after him - the Nigel Havers Alliance.

But lately life has been tough for the star of Dangerfield and A Passage to India.

Last June his wife and "soulmate", Polly lost her four-year fight with cancer. The former model, Havers' second wife, died in his arms.

Although the star is reluctant to talk of his private grief, the way he has thrown himself into his work and particularly his first love - the stage - is telling.

Recently in South Wales playing the enigmatic Maxim de Winter on a national tour of Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca, Havers explained his fascination with the theatre.

"Performing live is fantastic," he said. "Regional tours are hard work as there's a lot of travel involved, but it's great going to different places and having different audiences.

"I don't miss home at all, I just get on with it."

The character of de Winter has been played by many greats, including Sir Lawrence Olivier, but Havers says the role has not daunted him.

"It's a great role," he said. "I don't think about what has gone before - Olivier's portrayal was on black and white film, so it's very different."

Despite celebrating his half-century three years ago, Havers says his increasing age has not affected the quality of the roles he receives.

"I've been lucky," he said. "I don't think the roles I get have changed dramatically. They are as challenging now as they have ever have been."

Born in London, the son of the late Lord Michael Havers, former Lord Chancellor and Attorney General, Havers trained at the Arts Educational Trust before cutting his acting teeth on the London stage.

For him, a career in law like his father was never an option.

"I always wanted to be an actor," he said. "I got involved in acting at school and that was it; I didn't even consider anything else.

"And my father never wanted me to follow in his footsteps."

It was playing Lord Andrew Lindsay in the 1981 Oscar-winning Chariots of Fire that Havers first ran headlong into the media spotlight.

He followed it with string of TV and film hits including The Charmer and Don't Wait Up and quickly became a household name.

One of his most recent hits was the BBC2 series Manchild - billed as the mature man's answer to Sex and The City.

It followed the exploits of a group of 50-something men going through their mid-life crises.

Havers says: "I'm not sure whether the characters are indicative of all men today, although I'm sure there are some.

"But I do believe men are more aware of the need to look after themselves and want to look good."

For his part, Havers says he too likes to stay fit. "I eat healthily and exercise," he said. "I even find it easy to eat healthily when touring - you manage to get into a routine." As for the future, he is currently involved with bringing the story of the 1967 Rolling Stones drugs bust to the small screen.

In the next few months he is due to start filming a HBO film of his own creation, based on the famous incident involving Mick Jagger and Keith Richards.

He'll play his father, who was the defence barrister during the trial.

He says: "I'm not sure how I feel about playing my father, I'm certainly qualified for the job, but