My Secret Life: Jane Fallon, author & TV producer, 49

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The Independent Online

My parents were ... very hard-working. They had a newsagent and got up at 4.30am, seven days a week. It instilled a work ethic in me.

The house/flat I grew up in ... was above my parents' shop and was very crowded. There were seven of us. I'd find places where I could be on my own. I'd hide on top of the water tank in the attic, inside the dog's kennel, or on top of the compost heap.

When I was a child I wanted to be ... a writer, which I thought was impossible for someone from my background.

If I could change one thing about myself ... it would be making myself less judgemental. I tend to make snap judgements about people.

You wouldn't know it but I'm very good at ... cartwheels. I made a decision 10 years ago that I would know if I was getting old if I couldn't do a cartwheel any more. I can just about still do a one-handed one.

You may not know it but I'm no good at ... driving. I passed my test first time but I have almost never driven since. I passed on a fluke, I think, because I got the examiner talking to me about football.

At night I dream of ... 'The Wire'. We just finished watching the final season. Every night I dream about one of the characters. I'm turning into one of those people who writes to the actors on 'Coronation Street' – a really obsessive fan.

What I see when I look in the mirror ... is my mother. Which is a good thing. She still looks fantastic.

My favourite item of clothing ... is a white Pamela Barish coat that I bought in LA. I have a bit of a white coat fetish.

I wish I'd never worn ... the red crimplene catsuit and silver shoes which I wore for a dance competition when I was 16. I think my mother made it, bless her.

It's not fashionable but I like ... listening to Heart radio when I'm cooking. I like to dance and throw things around as I cook.

I drive ... No, I don't – I walk. I don't know one end of a car from another.

My house is ... my sanctuary. But there is constantly something going wrong with it. The latest thing is the dishwasher which when you turn it on sets off the burglar alarm and blows the electricity.

My favourite work of art ... I've just commissioned my first painting, which is very exciting, by Holly Frean, who does these little paintings within paintings.

My favourite building ... is the Chrysler. It's silver and beautiful and you can see it from miles away and you know you're in New York.

A book that changed me ... was 'Praxis' by Fay Weldon. It blew my mind that you could be so conversational in your writing.

Movie heaven ... is an empty cinema, an early Woody Allen film, a big glass of wine and no disturbances.

My secret crush ... is the dog from 'Family Guy'. He's suave and sophisticated.

My greatest regret ... is that my dad wasn't around when my first book got published. He would have been incredibly proud. When we had a shop I would write stories and persuade him to sell them on the paperback stands.

The person who really makes me laugh ... is my boyfriend [Ricky Gervais]. I tend to be a real pessimist. Not many people can make me laugh my way out of a situation. But he can.

The last time I cried ... was when I watched the Pixar film 'Up'. So sweet.

My five-year plan ... is to keep writing more books and to live in New York for a while.

My life in six words ... very nice indeed, thanks very much.

A life in brief

Jane Fallon was born in north London on 9 December 1960. She was the TV producer responsible for This Life and Teachers. Her first novel, Getting Rid of Matthew, sold more than 250,000 copies. She lives with her long-term partner, the comedian Ricky Gervais, in north London. Her third novel, Foursome, is available now, published by Penguin, £7.99