My Secret Life Michaela Strachan

Wildlife presenter, 44
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The Independent Online

When I was a child I wanted to be ... a ballet dancer, but then I realised I didn't have the necessary arch in my foot.

My greatest inspiration ... is Lone Dröscher Nielsen, who runs the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation. She works under very difficult conditions, and shows an all-consuming dedication to these animals.

The moment that changed me for ever ... was buying a holiday home in Cape Town, seven years ago. I met somebody out there, and have gone from a TV lifestyle in Bristol to something very different in South Africa.

I drive/ride ... a push bike, with a baby seat, but that's only good for going down hills. And I drive an Opel Corsa.

If I could change one thing about myself ... I'd have my smooth, football-shaped eyeballs back. I once had eczema on my eyelids and got into the habit of rubbing my eyes. It gave me a degenerative condition that changes the eyeballs to the shape of a rugby ball.

At night I dream of ... I once dreamt I was being chased by giant guinea pigs, who were skinning humans for coats. They caught me and I struck a deal, that I would help them capture people.

What I see when I look in the mirror ... someone I have come to accept.

My style icon ... I'm not desperately into style, I'm quite happy to be myself.

The shop I can't walk past ... I'm a sucker for markets. Every Sunday, my son Ollie and I go to one near our house and wander around looking at the crafts.

A book that changed me ... is 'Born Free' by Joy Adamson. It gave me a love for Africa.

The last album I bought ... was the Miriam Makeba commemorative album.

The person who really makes me laugh ... is Ben Elton. I have read every one of his books.

It's not fashionable but I like ... comfy shoes. I'm no good with heels.

My favourite work of art ... is a big fish on a big canvas, by my son's class. It is turquoise and covered in sequins and it's amazing.

My favourite item of clothing ... is a simple, no-frills Ghost dress, which comes out at every ceremony, ball or party.

All my money goes on ... food. I have quite a big family and try to buy good, organic food. Every time I look at my Visa statement I'm shocked at how much it costs.

You wouldn't know it but I'm very good at ... balancing spoons on my nose. There was a full-page picture of me doing it at a charity event, next to pictures of Catherine Zeta Jones's wedding, in 'OK!' magazine.

You may not know it but I'm no good at ... playing football.

If I have time to myself ... I exercise. I run eight kilometres a day and just got into cycling, Pilates and dance.

My house/flat is ... in a private estate in Cape Town. We have the most beautiful view of Hout Bay at the front, and mountains at the back. I love sitting on the veranda and watching the sun set between the two hills.

My most valuable possession is ... my photo albums. I'm very fastidious about them. I write a bit about each photo.

My favourite building ... would be a termite mound. These are the most impressive buildings I've ever seen, they never cease to amaze me. And they keep a constant temperature inside. How do they do that?

Movie heaven ... is 'Kinky Boots', which isn't as dodgy as it sounds. It's about a shoe factory specialising in boots for transvestites.

The best invention ever ... Sometimes I want to stop the world and get off. People should stop inventing new things. They might make our lives easier in the short term, but they end up creating stress.

I wish I'd never worn ... the really dodgy earrings I used to wear. I once hung a small hairbrush from my earlobe.

In 10 years' time, I hope to be ... balanced.

My greatest regret ... It's important people don't have them. Even a bad thing teaches you something. I just learn and move on.

My life in six words ... varied, exciting, interesting, happy, fulfilled, lucky.

A life in brief

Michaela Strachan was born on 7 April 1966 in Ewell, Surrey. A television presenter, she first came to fame in the Eighties on the children's programmes TV-am and The Wide Awake Club with Timmy Mallett. She then moved to BBC1's Really Wild Show and continues to present nature programmes. She lives in Cape Town, South Africa, with her partner, their son Oliver and her three step-children