"When I was rehearsing I would swim every morning. I try and go three or four times a week to the same club, which has a pool, gym and sauna. It's not the best pool in the world but there are no kids splashing around - and it's not so big as to be daunting.

"I started swimming for exercise. I originally went to the gym but I couldn't get relaxed. The opposite: the gym made me tense. Swimming is so much softer on the body; you use all your muscles without pushing them. That's the thing about doing exercise in the water. You're using your whole body.

"I do 20 minutes to half an hour, depending on how I feel. I do breast stroke for one length and then I come back using a back crawl. It's more to vary my boredom than vary my muscle groups. Still, I feel my body is just a bit more toned.

"I can only really exercise in the morning, because I'm a smoker - it seems too much effort at the end of the day. I know I have to give up soon, but I haven't reached that stage yet. The years are ticking by."

Maryam D'Abo is appearing in 'Abundance', by Beth Henley, at the Riverside Studios, 0181-741 2255.