Frequently Asked Questions
These are just a few questions I’ve been asked in interviews and during Q&A sessions at events. If you want to ask me something, just email the site and I’ll try to answer it.
What is your favourite painting?
Caravaggio’s ‘Cardsharps’. It so brilliantly captures the faces of men concentrating on the card game, and one of them is cheating. It has often been rumoured that one of the men is in fact a self-portrait.
What is your favourite colour?
Cornflower Blue. It is so refreshing, and I love the flower itself. Sadly they never last for very long.
If you could come back as an animal, what would it be?
I would come back as a Black Panther. They are such precious creatures and have the most astonishing eyes and stealth.
Who is your favourite author?
My favourite author is Raymond Chandler. I know I should say Shakespeare, or one of the other classics, but I so enjoy reading and re-reading Chandler as he makes me laugh out loud. His wit jumps off the page, and his ability to encapsulate a personality and character in a few lines is a lesson to every writer. He also has the most stunning titles for his books. As a reflection of his strength as a writer, many of his novels have been brilliantly transferred to the big screen.
What word do you most overuse?
How would you spend your perfect 24 hours?
First thing in the morning I would have a quick dip at the Carlyle Hotel in Antigua, which is a few steps from a beautiful beach house. I would then go for breakfast on an old Gulet in Turkey, and have fresh sardines with a glass of champagne. I would use a private speed boat, anchored at Sag Harbour, to take me across to Shelter Island for lunch, where I would have another glass of champagne to wash down a hamburger and French fries. Then I would spend the afternoon with Richard Branson on Necker Island, and have a late dinner. I would probably be so interested in his venture into space tourism, I don’t think I would worry about what I was eating!
Do you own a dog or a cat?
I have a wonderful Cockapoo called Max. A word of advice: If you cross an American Spaniel with a small poodle you get a sight and smell hound, which can be quite challenging!
When was the last time you cried?
I cried last night watching a reality TV programme where they built a perfect house for a delightful couple whose twin babies were born prematurely and were extremely medically challenged. The baby boys had an older brother, aged 8, who was so humbling that he made me cry. The programme showed how easy it is for so many people to give their time and craftsmanship to this lovely family, and what it meant to them.
Who would be at your dream dinner party?
I would have Marlon Brando, Napoleon, Shakespeare, Hedy Lamarr, Elvis Presley, Boudica, Marie Antoinette – and me!
When was the last time you sang in public?
I sing every weekend at the Chapel at my son’s school – not on my own, I hasten to add, because I am ‘musically challenged’ and always sing very loudly in the wrong place.
When you were an actress did you suffer from stage fright?
I believe that every actress at some point suffers from stage fright. It is an extraordinary moment when you are standing in the wings and you truthfully cannot recall your first line. You walk on the stage and, as if by magic, out it comes.
Are you superstitious?
Well, let’s just say I won’t walk under a ladder!
What is your ideal holiday?
I would be transported in my own private jet to Honolulu. I loathe travelling and dealing with luggage and passport control and visas. Honolulu is somewhere I have always wanted to go, but have never done so – yet.
Do you have a favourite play or piece of drama (apart from your own)?
At the moment my favourite play is ‘The Play that Went Wrong’. I have not laughed as much for a very, very long time.
What is your favourite film?
My favourite film is La Strada with Giulietta Masina. I saw this when I was a student at RADA, at a little cinema in Hampstead that showed foreign films.
What’s the best piece of advice someone has ever given you?
Never be afraid to show someone you love them. My Grandmother said that to me when I was about 5 years old.
How would you like to be remembered?
I hope that I might be remembered with great fondness – and it would be wonderful to think that my books would continue to be appreciated after I have gone.
What is your guilty pleasure?
Liquorice Allsorts! The black and white layered ones are my favourite, but I can never eat the round ones with balls on them as they remind me of the worming pills we used to be given at school.
What food do you LOVE and what food do you HATE?
I LOVE a full English Breakfast, including Black Pudding. I HATE chilled soup of any kind, and curry – the latter bringing back terrible memories of a holiday in India.
What last made you laugh out loud?
I laugh out loud every day at some point – something always cracks me up! Today it was the man next door being caught tipping rubbish into a skip that didn’t belong to him!
Have you got any obsessive traits?
Yes, polishing the underneath surfaces of taps. Anything to do with bathrooms – I like them to be extremely clean. I also polish my shoes every time I wear them.
Describe yourself in 5 words?
My son’s answer is: Irritable, Angry, Fun, Fury, Lovable
What’s the funniest or strangest thing you’ve ever been asked?
‘Are you the Russian Rock Singer?’ ‘No, I am not.’ ‘Are you sure, because you are the absolute spitting image of her?’ (Alla Pugacheva)
Who is your favourite singer?
Is there anything you would still like to learn?
Guitar, Piano, Slalom Skiing, Equestrianism.
What is your favourite season?
Winter. I know it sounds rather silly, but I hate my arms and in winter I am always in long sleeves, so nobody can see them!
If you weren’t a writer/producer, what would you like to be?
I would be a classical composer. To me, orchestras are always the finest show of humility and talent. The combined efforts of the musicians and the composer to produce the purest sound – for example Berlioz’s Romeo and Juliet. You don’t have to read the play – every word is in his composition.