Michael Caine and wife Shakira
Michael Caine and his wife Shakira at the premiere of Youth REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

Sir Michael Caine says he owes his life to his wife Shakira Baksh who saved him from drinking and smoking and helped him handle stress. The 82-year-old actor told Radio Times that he gives her all the credit for his reformed character.

"Without her I would have been dead long ago. I would have probably drunk myself to death. I was a bit of a piss artist when I was younger, I used to drink a bottle of vodka a day and I was smoking too, several packs a day.

"I wasn't unhappy but it was stress. You know, 'Am I going to get another picture? How am I going to do this part? How am I going to remember all those lines? I've got to get up at 6 in the morning and I hope the alarm works.' There was always some stressful thing. Meeting Shakira calmed me down."

Caine, who was previously married to actress Patricia Haines, tied the knot with Baksh in 1973 and the two have a daughter, Natasha. Reflecting on his relationship with his wife of 43 years, he added: "She's my right-hand man, my confidante. I tell her everything. I was famous when I met her, but I couldn't have got this far without her."

Caine is currently promoting his latest film Youth and made a rare appearance on a TV chat show on 16 January to promote it. In his first televised interview in ten years, Caine spoke about his own youth as a guest on The Jonathan Ross Show.