CHRIS Gascoyne’s Coronation Street character Peter Barlow is one of the most enduring bad boys in British television.

Why has he lasted so long, this havoc-wreaking, womanising, alcoholic man-child who has less emotional maturity than the cat on the Corrie roof tiles?

Is it because the 47 year-old is a master of his craft? Is it because his own emotions are only a finger nail scratch away from the surface, and therefore readily accessed?

Chris is in Glasgow to talk about his appearance in Samuel Beckett’s Endgame at the Citizens’, in which he stars alongside fellow Corrie star David Neilson (Roy Cropper).

The idea of appearing in a Beckett play came about during chats in the Coronation Street green room, when he realised he and David were forming a Beckett appreciation society.

“I first came across Beckett at drama school and I felt I had some emotional connection with him,” says Chris. “He’s been a part of my life since.

“I love the way he looks at the meaning of life, not only asking why we are here, but how do we avoid wondering why we are here?

“He makes you think about avoiding reality and hiding from the truth.

“But in Endgame, the truth comes calling to the two central characters (Hamm and Clov, the tyrant and servant) and there’s nothing they can do about it.”

The endgame is death, the reality is we are running out of time.

Should we try and make the most of our time?

“I could say yes, and I hope I aspire to that, but the truth is I don’t try as much as I should."

Chris once took off to Buddhist centre in the Highlands to ‘find himself’. The pressures of Corrie, life in fact, had gotten to him. He had been drinking more than he should have.

“When I drove up there I was such a restless character, and my mind always on the move, yet, I knew I had to learn to be with myself, to be on my own, to sit still, to appreciate there is no other place to be.

“Most of the times in life I’d avoided it. I needed to learn ‘this is the place’, that it's all about living in the moment.”

It worked. He retuned his thinking. But it’s an on-going process.

His Coronation Street character however can’t live in the moment. He’s always moving, physically or mentally. Every drink, every addiction is about Peter Barlow trying hard to be someone else.

Did the script writers take an essence of Chris Gascoyne’s own character and give it to the screen creation?

“I would have thought so,” he says, smiling in acknowledgement.

“Initially they wrote what Peter was about, the bones of the man, and I then went in and put the flesh on him.

“But then for months later they gave me speeches, story moments, and they were always testing me and eventually we found Peter between us.”

The actor adds; “I can’t say he’s wholly not me. There’s a part of me in him, but in imaginary situations.

“But I’ll also add character notes I see in other people.”

Barlow is a great character to play, but given his huge emotional range, is hugely demanding.

“What I’d do on Saturdays is read the scripts, take out my scenes, re-write his history so I'd remember where Peter was mentally at this point and add notes like ‘Peter hasn’t had a drink for four hours; what sort of state would he be in? Is he still stinking of drink?’ And I’d do that with every single scene, then I would add the detail, the Peter-isms.

“It was a seven days a week job. Even when driving to work I’d be thinking out how Peter would be feeling in each scene, whether he was guilty, confused, angry, whatever.”

It worked. Viewers believe Peter Barlow implicitly. They love and hate the character, and many empathise with him, his flaws, his weaknesses.

“Thank you,” he says, with a heartfelt smile.

But of course, that level of investment in work takes its toll. And when you add to this the actor is a hugely emotional creature ( he still texts his late mum messages, and when his brother died of cancer aged 26 Chris refused to delete his number.)

“I needed a break and when I told this to the producers (in 2014) they said, ‘Fine.’”

Chris, who lives in Manchester with his wife, actress Caroline Harding and their three children, grew up in a mining town and certainly never dreamed of becoming an actor.

“But then I went to high school, which had a little theatre, and when I took my first drama lesson, doing some improv, I found I really enjoyed it.

“In fact, it came easy to me. And thankfully, my drama teacher saw something in me and gave me plays to read such as Billy Liar, and I loved them."

What would he have done if he hadn’t gone to drama school and loved the world?

“That’s an interesting question because I often imagine there’s another guy out there, another version of me, and he’s doing an ordinary job.

“My dad was a milkman, and I used to help him. My brother worked in a steel factory where I drove the van, but I never arrived where I should have.

“I guess I would have got by. I would have been okay.”

The imagining is perhaps his way of holding onto a sense of reality, or appreciation for the life he has.

Now, however, Chris is away from the seven-day TV factory, but he’s giving his all again, this time to the Citz, where he and David Neilson’s Hamn and Clov will be lost delightfully in mindspace.

But does he fear Beckett, given the intensity required of his characters?

“I feared panto more,” he says, laughing of his recent Aladdin stint in which he played Abanazer.

“At least in Beckett the audience aren’t shouting back.”

*Endgame, the Citizens' Theatre, February 4-20.