Ben Mitchell plays handsome doctor TK on Shortland Street. A former Mr New Zealand who grew up on Hamilton’s mean streets, he is a father to two little girls and has never married.

1. You've been off our screens for the past three months. Where have you been?

I had so many holidays owing they gave me a short break and I took off to Hawaii, Gold Coast, Fiji, just instinctively. You kind of feel pressure to do something monumental. I don't take much leave. I love working. Love the show. Love TK and where he's at. To be honest I was a bit anxious about taking such a long time off work. You never know when your time's up. Everyone's dispensable. Except me, just joking.

2. Describe your childhood.

Fun as bro. It wasn't a normal upbringing but I thought it was, until you have that juxtaposition of other families. Probably when I was about 10 I started going to other people's houses. I lived in a state house and most other families were units. Dad wasn't at home but he was around. I don't want to offend him now - we have a great relationship - but in hindsight you have moments when you wish your dad was there. He gave me a great gift of a strong, masculine presence. Got me into boxing and was very forceful. He kept me out [of gangs], tried to steer me away from that as much as possible. "Stand on your own two feet son."


3. Was it tough on your mum?

Extremely tough for her. There were three kids - I'm the oldest boy. There was a sense of being the man of the house, to protect her. I left home at 15, my mum got annoyed with me. If you hang out with me for an hour you'll go "get out of here" too. [The move] was an unspoken thing, I was out chasing girls and that. I was at school and in some sort of flat, working at Pak'n Save, got an accommodation supplement from the government.

4. What did you want to do with your life?

I was boxing so I thought I was going to be the champ of the world and earn a lot of money. I won national champs and went to professional level but it wasn't my calling. It spoke to my physical and spiritual life, but not my emotional life. I can see where I gravitated to the arts.

5. You entered Mr New Zealand. Was that vanity?

No I entered on a dare. I prefer the word self-confidence and yes, I have an inborn sense of self-confidence. It's from my dad who had great confidence. Nothing fazes him. Here's how I prepared [for Mr New Zealand]: Step 1 - I decided in my head that I would win. Step 2 - I trained like a gym weirdo for six weeks. Step 3 - I repeated step one. Learned how to catwalk and do interviews. I walked on that stage like I owned it.

6. Did you go to Mr World?

Yeah, in the Philippines. That was ridiculous. They were into themselves man. Hard core. It was another level of into themselves. I made friends with Mr Australia and we didn't turn up to any of the events and used all the per diems and went loose. But that was a turning point for me. I could see myself in the entertainment world and I had a burning desire to be successful and was extremely sure it would happen.

7. Where did that desire come from?

I'm not a psychologist but I have been tossing it around for years. A combination of things - not having a traditional family structure, there was pain there. I secretly wanted my dad to love me and thought if I was successful he would love me.

8. Are you a drinker?

Not really. When I drink I get in trouble so I don't do it much. Drugs and shit was never my thing. The sheep were doing it [as a teenager] and the muppets. I thought people who smoked and drank were muppets.

9. TK has had a brilliant, turbulent and very active love-life. Is yours as active?

Art imitating life you reckon?! That's an understatement for my love life and life in general. All my 36 years there have been connections with women. But only two women have had the privilege of meeting my mother. And there's been a lot [of others]. Every man is looking for the good woman behind the successful man, aren't they? Yeah, I'll marry one day. I look for loyalty, a woman who makes me feel powerful, doesn't take my shit too seriously and empowers me physically, spiritually and emotionally. It's not that hard. Ha!

10. I hear you don't like bossy women. What's wrong with them?

I don't like bossy people. Men or women. But a bossy man is much easier to deal with than a bossy woman. You'd tell a man chill out or you'd punch him in the head. Clearly, you can't do that to a woman, nor would you want to. A bossy woman reminds a man of a nagging mum. Not cool. If a woman is bossy to me I think she wants to [sleep with me]. It's a masculine trait. It's not in a woman's inherent state. Underneath bossiness is people wanting to influence and there are other ways - charm, wit, humour. Oh yeah, I can be quite bossy too. I'm a typical guy. Two sets of rules.

11. These are very unfashionable, and probably sexist, things to say: are you speaking for other men, do you think?

I absolutely do. I think men have no balls because they have been emasculated. These may be old-fashioned principles but they are old-fashioned for a reason.

12. Do you care what people think about you?

I like people to like me, everyone does, and I like people. I'm aware that I disrupt a lot of people because they have too many rules in their head. But there's always going to be scraps on the plate. You don't worry about them. They're for the dog.