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My secret life: Lyndsey Marshal, actress, 33


My parents are... My mum still lives in Manchester. My dad passed away when I was 19 and at drama school – he had heart failure – so that was quite a big thing. I'm very, very close to my mum, though I don't see her as much as I'd like to.

The household I grew up in... I grew up in Old Trafford, it was a council estate, and I had a really wonderful time there – really good days, I had a loads of friends.

When I was a child I wanted to... I was between wanting to be a beautician and wanting to be a firewoman.

If I could change one thing about myself... I'm not very good at being hungry, I get kind of mardy and unbearable. So I would eat regularly instead of getting hungry!

You wouldn't know it but I'm very good at... cooking. As long as I've got a lemon, chilli, onion and garlic, there's nothing I can't make.

You may not know it but I'm no good at... going to bed. I'm very bad at being tired, my true Northern moaning goes into fifth gear, I moan and cry until my boyfriend says, 'I think you should go to bed' – then I put it off, dawdle and do anything not to...

At night I dream of... They're either really boring and mundane – I remember once dreaming I was hoovering my hallway for quite some hours – or I have terrible shock-horror nightmares.

I wish I'd never worn... quite a few pairs of vintage shoes that I think are a really good idea at the time. I remember wearing some on a night out that were so sore, I just threw them in the bin and walked home barefoot.

What I see when I look in the mirror... Depends on how much sleep I've had – sometimes I think 'Yeah, I'm not doing too bad' and sometimes I think, 'Oh my God, I'm deteriorating by the day'.

It's not fashionable but I like... Patsy Cline, John Holt, and Antiques Roadshow.

My house is... a two-bedroomed flat in a lovely quiet square, full of ridiculous things I've bought on my travels. I've got a huge tin horse in the middle of the living room.

My favourite work of art... Anything by Francis Bacon; I love all of his stuff.

Movie heaven... The Apartment. It's a beautiful film; Shirley MacLaine and Jack Lemmon are at the top of their game.

My favourite building... I always feel like I'm near home when I see the BT Tower.

My secret crush is... I'd be quite pleased to have Javier Bardem on my arm.

My greatest regret... I don't really have any – even when you think you made a bad choice, in a way you have to go through it. You learn from everything you experience.

My real-life villains... Any bullies – and I can't be doing with anyone prejudiced or narrow-minded. Life's too short.

The last time I cried... When I got to the end of the book One Day – I couldn't believe it!

My five-year plan... I don't have a next-day plan. A five-year plan? That's terrifying.

What's the point? To be happy, to be creative, loving, generous. That's it, really.

My life in six words... Cherished, adventurous, happy, creative, fun, open.

A life in brief

Lyndsey Marshal was born in Manchester in 1978. She graduated from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, and has starred in stage productions including Three Days of Rain in the West End and, earlier this year, Greenland at the National Theatre. She has had film roles in The Hours and in Clint Eastwood's Hereafter, and played Cleopatra in the HBO series Rome. This winter, she'll be in a new series of Garrow's Law on BBC1. Marshal lives in King's Cross, London with her boyfriend