Martin Freeman has said it “wasn’t that much fun” to film Sherlock with his former partner Amanda Abbington while they were in the process of splitting up.
The couple, who were together for 16 years and have two children, star together in the BBC show as married couple John and Mary Watson.
Freeman confirmed the end of their relationship in December 2016.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs: “We met on a set in 2000, we met on a Channel 4 drama called Men Only and we clicked immediately.
“We just hit it off, we went on a date a day or two later and we were together for 16 years.
“She was and remains one of my favourite actors, I think she’s a fantastic actor.”
Asked how it was to work with her on Sherlock, he replied: “Awful! No, it was good, I really love working with her.
“By the time of the last Sherlock that we’ve done we were sort of in the midst of splitting up, so that wasn’t that much fun, but when we weren’t in that midst it was great.”
Freeman said he thinks they are co-parenting “pretty well, really”, adding: “I always knew that people who split up can be civil and do it for the kids, it’s all right.
“I didn’t only want to be civil for the children, I wanted to be civil for us, because when you’ve loved someone for that long and they have been such an integral part of your life, what – that is supposed to not count now?
“That just didn’t make sense to me so we do we get on well and I think the kids see us getting on well, they are just loved by the same two people in different geography now.”
Freeman has starred in Sherlock, opposite Benedict Cumberbatch in the title role, since 2010, and said the chemistry the pair share is “fairly rare and certainly even rarer for it to be picked up in the public in that way”.
He added: “Probably nothing I’ve done, maybe nothing I ever will do, has resonated with certain parts of the world’s population the same way Sherlock has, it just hit a lot of buttons for people.
“The reaction can be quite intense. So by the time we filmed the last ones there were some fans who were so adamant that John and Sherlock were gay, they knew it and they knew that Steven (Moffat) and Mark (Gatiss) were going to write an episode where we held hands off into the sunset together, and so when that didn’t happen there was a chunk pf people going, ‘This is betrayal’.
“Put it this way, they invest a lot in it and up to a certain point, that is delightful. Beyond a certain point, it’s more challenging.”
Desert Island Discs is on BBC Sounds and BBC Radio 4 on Sunday at 11.15am.