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My Secret Life: Alexander Armstrong, 42, comedian

'I dare say my house is haunted'
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My parents are… tremendous adventurers. At every stage of my career, every time I've stepped away from what may have been the sensible path, my parents have said, "Yes, go for it!".

The household I grew up in… was right in the middle of nowhere. The nearest village was a place called Pauperhaugh which was a village in the sense that it had a phone box and a bridge. By the time I got down south I had decades to catch up on. We only got colour television in 1978.

When I was a child I wanted to be… I come from a very long line of doctors, back to the middle of the 17th century, so I wanted to be one of those.

If I could change one thing about myself… I'd up my hand-eye coordination a couple of notches. I'd like merely to be an indifferent tennis player.

You wouldn't know it but I am very good at… I'm a trained classical baritone.

You may not know it but I'm no good at… I am very shy with people I don't know. I'm positively awkward.

At night I dream of… climbing and being high up – and having to climb down. I don't know what that signifies. If anyone fancies having an amateur pop at interpreting it I'm open to all comers.

I wish I had never worn… a pair of things called Polyveldts, in the 1970s. They were terrible shoes.

What I see when I look in the mirror… Quite a tired face. We have three very young children.

It's not fashionable but I like… country music.

I drive… an Audi Q7.

My house is… The one in Oxfordshire is an old vicarage. It's lovely. I dare say it's probably haunted; 1612 it was built. But it's got such a lovely feel to it.

My favourite work of art… would be a William Nicholson watercolour. I would sit back and relax if I had one.

A book that changed me… The Dukan Diet. I read it last year and lost two stone. It physically changed me.

The last album I bought/downloaded… Smith and Burrows' Funny Looking Angels.

My greatest regret… is that I didn't know either of my grandfathers as a grown-up. One died before I was born and the other when I was 12 or 13. I would have loved to have talked to both of them now. One was a doctor and the other was one of the architects of the IMF.

My secret crush… Cheryl Cole.

My five-year plan… I always have one. Now it is probably to move out of London. That will be a big deal and I will work like a madman until then, and then take my foot off the gas a bit.

What's the point? Happiness.

My life in six words… It's all pretty good so far.

A life in brief

Alexander Armstrong was born in 1970 in Rothbury, Northumberland. He went to Trinity College, Cambridge on a choral scholarship and joined the Footlights theatre group. He moved to London to pursue a career in comedy, and met fellow Cambridge graduate Ben Miller with whom he formed a longstanding double act. He lives in London and Oxfordshire with his wife Hannah and their three sons. A new series of the panel show Alexander Armstrong's Big Ask starts on Dave on 26 February