“It’s a really interesting piece,” says Madden, “because you can do things on TV that you can’t do in a movie, like having a completely antagonistic character who will make you feel bad but sure as hell will want you to tune in again the next week.”
Although Madden admits he likes working in the US, the grandfather of four naturally doesn’t always want to be away from home for too long at a stretch.
Having made many of his movies in Europe to date has seen him enjoying the best of both worlds, including having a son, Oliver, 34, who is in film production, and daughter Penny, 32, a deputy head teacher at a London primary school.
During his career to date, Madden has directed Geoffrey Rush, Judi Dench and Gwyneth Paltrow to Oscar- nominated performances, with the latter pair both winning for Mrs Brown and Shakespeare in Love, which was also a Best Picture winner, too.
Directing star names has become second nature, so if he found Messrs Pacino and De Niro, for example, on one of his sets the next day, how would he handle them?
“I consider myself to be an actors’ director and that actors are the most important resource to me,” says Madden.
“You have to become a Svengali to actors and it’s a strange thing to describe.
“You need a different approach to every actor and with those of a certain calibre you try to put them in the right framework.
“It’s important to find the rhythm of a scene and it can take a bit more time for it to settle down and for an actor to understand why something has occurred.
“With some actors you get there in a couple of takes, some are at their best after four or five... you have to feel your way with that.
“Generally speaking, I will try to find the lion’s share of the work in a scene. Everybody needs a point of view.
“With De Niro and Pacino, I would imagine they would just be stretching their legs in the first two or three takes. You’d hope they would get there by the fifth or sixth because you don’t always have the luxury of doing that.
“With Masters of Sex, I’ve just shot 70 minutes in 15 days and, in that situation, if you have to do a long scene four times then you are in trouble.”
Madden says it helps that most actors would know who he is before they had even met him on the set.
“That’s not to say that some of them aren’t challenging to work with,” he smiles.
“I worked on several Inspector Morse films with John Thaw and there were other actors who were afraid of him which I never understood.
“He was just a guy who didn’t express himself very much. He was shy!”
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel movie would never have happened had bestselling author Deborah Moggach not written the novel These Foolish Things about ‘outsourcing elderly Brits to India’.
But although she was overlooked as a potential adapter of her own story in favour of fellow London-based screenwriter Ol Parker (Imagine Me & You), she has no regrets.
Especially now that the theme of her book – about older folks going abroad to enjoy themselves instead of being trapped in their own houses or care homes – has become a corporate reality with businesses realising the potential.
This is bound to be one of the topics for discussion when Deborah makes history at the Borderlines Film Festival this weekend.
When she is in conversation with film writer David Gritten at St Peter’s Centre, Peterchurch from 7.30pm tomorrow, it will be the first time a BAFTA event has been staged in a church.
But it seems to have been a date with destiny that has been decades in the making.
From her own Georgian house on the edge of London’s Hampstead Heath, it is just possible to see the house in which her grandmother was brought up.
This is also the house where the poet Keats (1795-1821) once lived and has just been turned into a community library (www.keatshouse.cityoflondon.gov.uk).
Both of Deborah’s parents were also writers.
Her fighter pilot father Richard Hough specialised in naval history, biographies and children’s books; her mother Charlotte wrote and illustrated children’s books.
“I had three sisters and we grew up to the sound of typewriters tapping,” she says.
Now 63, Moggach once fancied being a landscape architect before liberating herself by going to live in Karachi for two years in the mid-70s after graduating in English from the University of Bristol.
“It was quite tough being a blonde, white woman there but I was very fond of my friends and I started working as a journalist,” she says.
“I learned Urdu and became part of Pakistani life. I was very happy there.
“It was not so radicalised then, but the north west frontier has always been very lawless and difficult to get to.”
Today, she has published 16 novels and two collections of short stories as well as adapting Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice and The Diary of Anne Frank for TV.
Having also been Chairman of the Society of Authors and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, Moggach is clearly not imprisoned by her own works, like some writers.
“Doing something for television is collaborative – and I like it that actors call you darling,” she laughs.
“I do like working with other people.
“I was really pleased with Best Exotic even though it wasn’t my screenplay.
“But there have been times when I have been terribly upset with what’s happened to my work.
“Sometimes you’ll think that an actor doesn’t fit the role, but you sort of get fond of them by the end because they become those characters.”
Being a screenwriter can be a difficult business.
Steven Spielberg bought the rights to her own novel Tulip Fever (1999) with a view to making it in 2007.
The story was inspired by her long-term partner, the cartoonist Mel Calman, after he had died suddenly from a heart attack four years before as they watched a film together.
But the film has had five different writers working on it and still hasn’t been made.