MILLIONS of viewers are expected to tune in next month to a new TV drama starring the Chancellor of Huddersfield University.
Film star Patrick Stewart has his first role for Granada TV since he played a fireman in Coronation Street in 1967.
He plays Prof Ian Hood, the lead role in science-based thriller Eleventh Hour, a four-part series due to start on January 19.
And he has already won admiration from co-star Ashley Jensen, the Extras actress who won two British Comedy Awards.
Praising his qualities, she said: "He's such a joy to work with, a real gent."
Mirfield-born Stewart, 65, says Hood is a problem-solving physics professor who is called on by the Government to avert disasters caused by scientific developments.
Ashley, 36, is his assistant.
The £4.5m series was filmed in and around Manchester between May and August this year.
Stewart says it will have viewers on the edge of their seats.
He said: "Ashley and I watched the first episode of Eleventh Hour together for mutual support.
"Terry McDonough's direction was outstanding. The film scared me witless. It's really quite intense."
Episode one centres on a sinister Italian scientist who is trying to be the first person to bring a cloned baby in to the world.
Other episodes include stories about the smallpox virus and global warming.
Stewart said it was far removed from his role as Captain Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek: The Next Generation.
He said: "It has nothing to do with science fiction whatsoever. No aliens in sight, no space time continuum.
"There will be some disturbing images used, particularly in the episode that deals with the smallpox virus. But it's all about the real world, the world of today."
Stewart is currently at the Albery Theatre in London with his award-winning show A Christmas Carol, which he adapted himself from the Charles Dickens novel.
It closes today and the actor follows it with a year as a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company.
He will play Marc Antony in Antony and Cleopatra and the magician Prospero in The Tempest during a US tour.