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My Secret Life: Hugh Bonneville, actor, 47

My parents were... and are fantastic role models. They met at St Mary's medical school. After they married, my mother gave up nursing to be a mum, dad went on to be a surgeon. Now, in their eighties, they show no signs of slowing down; they have a busier social life than I do and they always put the needs of others before their own. They are truly remarkable people.

The household I grew up in... was an imposing Edwardian house in Blackheath, south-east London. In my memory it had something of the Addams family about it. The stairs creaked at strange times of the night, which turned me into a light sleeper.

When I was a child I wanted to... be a train driver, which is a bit of a cliché. After that I went through a rather strange period when I wanted to be a town planner.

If I could change one thing about myself... it would be to stop impulse buying. I still have no idea why I purchased that spare shower attachment the other day.

You wouldn't know it but I am very good at... navigation. I have an excellent internal compass.

You may not know it but I'm no good at... base jumping.

At night I dream of... lying on a beach in the Maldives.

What I see when I look in the mirror... Brad Pitt.

I wish I'd never worn... white dungarees when I was 12.

I drive... a Renault Mégane. To get the spec I wanted I had to accept the colour: a nausea-inducing metallic blue. My wife drives a tank, or rather a Volvo XC90. The only thing I like about it is that you can spot it in any car park.

My house is... a converted Victorian coach house on the West Sussex/Hampshire border. It's in a hamlet of houses that used to service the Big House up the hill.

My favourite item of clothing... is a grey cashmere hoodie.

My favourite work of art... A lush tropical forest landscape by David Marrian. No one will know it because it's on my wall.

My favourite building... St Paul's Cathedral. I did a programme about Sir Christopher Wren a few years ago. Learning about his original designs and seeing 'backstage' made me appreciate what a phenomenal work of architecture it is.

The last album I bought... MICroscope by Riz MC. Riz Ahmed is a multi-talented Renaissance man who I'm lucky enough to count as a friend.

Movie heaven... A combination of David Lean, Powell and Pressburger, and Pixar.

A book that changed me... Stig of the Dump by Clive King. I identified with Barney, the boy who befriends a caveman he discovers in a quarry. It captured my imagination and I started writing plays based on their adventures. Really terrible plays which I made my friends act in – they only had supporting parts, obviously.

My secret crush is... Matt Cardle. I went to The X Factor semi-finals and he couldn't have been a more charming gentleman.

My greatest regret... Je ne regrette rien.

My real-life villains... A boy at school. He knows who he is.

The last time I cried... Toy Story 3. When my son leaves home I am going to hide in his suitcase.

What's the point? To do it now.

My life in six words... Going well until it all stops.

A life in brief

Hugh Bonneville was born in London in 1963. After graduating from Cambridge, he acted at the National Theatre and the RSC in plays such as School for Wives and 'Tis Pity She's a Whore. His cinematic outings include Notting Hill, Iris, Glorious 39 and Scenes of a Sexual Nature. Bonneville recently starred in the ITV costume drama Downton Abbey, comedy series Twenty Twelve, and crime drama The Silence. He lives in Sussex with his wife and son