FRASIER star John Mahoney insists becoming an actor saved his life, because he was "rotting" with depression before he took to the stage.

The British-born actor joined the army before working as an English teacher and then as a hospital orderly, but nothing he tried inspired him, and he soon hit a dangerously low ebb.

He says, "I was going home with a six-pack of beer and a couple of packets of cigarettes and just rotting in front of the television thinking to myself, 'I thought there was going to be so much more to my life than this.'"