Sex is important to me, but only when I'm sure I'm in love: In bed with Mariella Frostrup

Mariella Frostrup is a broadcaster and journalist. She presents 'The Little Picture Show', a late-night film magazine programme, on Carlton Television.

I'm not really a night person. The Little Picture Show has a late night feel but it's actually filmed between 9am and 6pm in a blacked-out studio. It goes on air at midnight . . . by which time I like to be tucked up in bed]

I do socialise at night, mostly having dinner or going to the theatre with friends, but take up few of the glamorous invitations I receive. I get asked to parties for people I don't even know, which is very strange. I did go to the Planet Hollywood party for Sylvester Stallone last year, though. I thought it would be fascinating from an anthropological point of view.

At first I was shocked that I'd got this sexy image - and I suppose that's why I'm often invited. Now it irritates me; I feel this wave of disappointment if I don't turn up wearing some incredibly slinky number. Men expect me to be all sultry and cooing whereas I can be quite abrasive. It's all rather ridiculous.

My favourite nights are when I can be in bed by 10.30 with a cup of cocoa and some good books. My bedroom is an oasis of calm and I rarely allow anyone else into it. I love the thought that I can go in there and enjoy my solitude.

I had an unsettled childhood and moved house quite often myself but there are always certain things that belong in the bedroom and give me a sense of continuity. I have three pictures of my very best friends, a jewellery box that belonged to my grandmother and a drawing of a reclining nude by my mother which makes me feel calm.

I sometimes catch up on videos for the show in bed. I also like to listen to music - really old-fashioned records. You'll probably laugh at me but a big favourite is Leonard Cohen - but only when I'm very happy. My dad - who died when I was 16 - used to like Leonard Cohen and when I'm happy I'm able to sit and think about him a little bit.

I have occasionally dreamt of my father but fortunately I don't dream much. I don't think I've ever had a happy dream in my life. I have a recurring nightmare that I'm being chased by a rapist. It's a terrible fear I've had since I was 12 and a girl down the road was raped on her way home from school.

I'm not involved in a relationship at the moment and it's a long time since I lived with a man. I was perfectly happy to share then but I don't know if I could now. I have my little routines and resent people interfering with them - even if I'm in love. When I wake up in the morning I want to be rid of them - I set my radio alarm clock at exactly one minute to the hour and like to listen to the news in peace for 30 minutes before I get up.

I've been out with lots of men who were so nice that I really wished I would want to spend the rest of my life with them. But there was always something missing in terms of engaging my heart. When I can see that's the case I move on. I'm very good at making those kinds of decisions and acting on them.

I was married when I was 18 (and divorced at 21). My dad had died and Richard was my first serious boyfriend. I just got my little paws in him and dragged him into the register office. He's forgiven me now and we're still good friends. I think if your parents are divorced, as mine were, you take marriage less seriously.

Sex, on the other hand, is extremely important to me. It's the only thing you do with another person that you don't do with your friends. I have a rule that I always stick to - I only have sex with someone when I'm sure I'm in love.

If I'm sleeping with a man I insist on nakedness. I hate men who get into bed in their underpants - I mean, why? They know they're going to take them off. Totally unsexy. When I'm alone, however, I confess that I'm usually to be found in a pair of comfortable pyjamas.

(Photograph omitted)

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