EVEN when he is in curmudgeonly form, there is still something quite endearing about Gary Anderson.

The two-times world darts champion is in a hotel room in Milton Keynes ahead of the return of the Unibet Premier League this evening, fighting a losing battle with the Wi-Fi and giving the impression that he would rather be anywhere else in the world.

“This is the worst bit,” he reveals. “We came in [yesterday] morning and got tested and that was us until [tonight].

“It’s a bit of a shift to be stuck in a hotel room looking at the same four walls for hours. There’s not a b***** lot you can do, is there? The television is guff. But you twiddle your thumbs and watch whatever nonsense is on telly.

“I’m not much of a reader. I might get classed as intelligent if I did that! And I don’t really watch box sets either, just normal telly.

“Channel 12, bit of Salvage Hunters and Wheeler Dealers, I like all that stuff.”

Life inside the bubble may not be to Anderson’s liking but the other more general pandemic restrictions have suited him just fine.

With international travel off the agenda, the 50 year-old has enjoyed spending time at his home near Somerset and working long days in the fishery business he has acquired.

Darts is evidently in the blood but at times it can often seem like an inconvenience for Anderson. And this feels like one of them.

“I’ve loved it,” he says of recent restrictions. “Lock me down for another 12 months and it would not bother me one little bit.

“I’ve been at home for the most part which is much better than spending most of my life living out of a suitcase.

“It will be hard to go back to travelling as I’ve been spending so much time at home that I’ve got used to that. Everyone else has struggled through lockdown but I’ve loved it.”

He is strangely reluctant to give away too much about his new fishing enterprise but it seems to have given him a fresh lease of life after admitting his darts form has been “rotten”.

“I’m out from six in the morning till nine or ten at night in the fresh air,” adds the man known as The Flying Scotsman.

“I love it. I’ve not done manual work for a long time so it’s nice to get the hands dirty again. I don’t really have time to go fishing as I’m too busy grafting now.

“The darts has been a bit of a slog; two weeks off here, three weeks off there. There’s just no consistency to it. Once it starts back to the normal every weekend job it’ll be fine. You’ll be back into your routine which will make a big difference.”

Anderson takes pride in the fact that he no longer practices, believing darts to be something that needs to be done in company rather than a solitary act.

While other younger rivals have got around restrictions by playing each other online, the man from Musselburgh seems horrified by the idea.

“A few of the commentators on the telly say I practise all the time. I don’t. If they say I practise, I’m telling you I don’t. Anyone who knows me in my area will tell you I don’t throw a dart.

“I’m not a great practiser on my own. I like to have something there with me. All the young ones play each other via Facebook and practise that way but I’m not that great with the technology. I’d just rather wait and play someone in person.”

Anderson scraped through into this second phase of the Premier League and the bookies aren’t convinced of a comeback, ranking him as a 25/1 outsider to go on to claim a third title.

His eyes briefly light up at the prospect of proving them wrong but admits in current form it would be nothing but bluster.

“Anything thinking of having a punt on me would probably be better just keeping the money and buying a coffee,” he adds ahead of his opening game against Jose de Sousa, the first of three ties on successive nights.

“If I were confident enough I could absolute hammer the bookies and say I’m going to win it. But I can’t say that. Anyone’s guess is as good as mine with the way that my darts has been going.

“It’s all about what happens on the night. I can’t say I’ll go out and play well. I can’t say I’m going to go there and play terrible. Although I probably will play terrible.

“But if it goes well then he’ll have a game on his hands. I can still beat them – even playing badly. That always puts a wee smile on my face.”

- The Unibet Premier League will be live on Sky Sports from May 5-7 & 25-28.