Dance as Tulkinghorn in the BBCs Bleak House. Photograph: BBC/Mike Hogan/BBC
The image of 8,000 Unsullied soldiers marching out of the city was, he recalls, like a scene from a movie by Leni Riefenstahl, the Nazi propagandist with an epic vision. Wow, this is sensational!
The show has certainly boosted his profile in America. But in the course of a four-decade career, he recalls, he has only had one extended period, about 15 years ago, when the phone stopped ringing. That apart, he has been indefatigably clocking up the air miles.
I dont really relish the travel. I relish the getting there. The travel is a pain in the arse. There was a time people used to list in their list of hobbies, travel and art. The art is fine, the travel no. That whole bloody security thing is just a pain.
Improbably, in 1994, he went to Sun City in South Africa to be a Miss World judge along with Iman, Patrick Lichfield and Nelson Mandelas daughter Zindzi. It was six months after the end of racial apartheid. I didnt get to meet Nelson Mandela, unfortunately. I met [his wife] Winnie, who scared the shit out of me I have to say, actually.
In 2003 he was in Beirut, Lebanon, to play a professor called Charles Lushington in the movie Labyrinth. Sometimes, he admits, he does it just for the money (or the travel). No shame. Purely because every now and again its called no money. You go and think, OK, Im going to try and do the best I can with this pile of shit, and Im doing it because it will enable me for a few months to perhaps say no.
The Beirut job in particular: one of the worst scripts Ive ever read. Its far too late now; it will never see the light of day, I hope. But I did it purely because I wanted to go to Beirut. I thought, Thisll be interesting, and I asked for a ridiculous amount of money, assuming they would say absolutely not, and three weeks later I get a call saying, Remember that job in Beirut? Well theyll pay. Fuck.
Dance went, hooked up with the journalist Robert Fisk and spent a couple of fascinating evenings discussing the history and tragedy of the place.
Visiting America, he now finds New Yorks commercialism overwhelming but Washington charming, at least while it remains Trump-free. If he makes it into the White House, were going to have to find another planet to live on, Dance sighs. Its alarming, really.
He was no less depressed about Britains vote to quit the European Union. Its kind of xenophobic, little Britain, pull up the drawbridge. Yet, soon hell be on the road again. Hes off to Botswana to promote Savage Kingdom, six National Geographic films he has narrated about nature red in tooth and claw. Its as violent as anything youll see on Game of Thrones.
Indeed, the Seven Kingdoms keep cropping up in any conversation with Dance these days. But he is philosophical about having been killed off in a series where a being a lead character offers no armour. In his video message, Pigott-Smith urged him to brush up his Shakespeare.
So, with retirement apparently off the table, what would be his dream role? Id like to do a bit more of the Scandinavian plays, just because of the way I look, and I havent done enough. Theres a fair amount of Shakespeare I havent done. I love the history plays, actually, much more so than the comedies. It would take a brave person to ask me to do it but I would love to play Malvolio in Twelfth Night. Hes wonderful.