My Secret Life: Ruth Jones, Actress, age 42

The home I grew up in... was a Victorian terraced house 100 yards from the sea-front in a lovely Welsh town called Porthcawl. My Nana lived with us and my Gramma lived round the corner. It was a happy time.

When I was a child I wanted to... win the Crackerjack Young Entertainers competition. I entered, singing "A Mouse Lived in a Windmill" and accompanied myself on the guitar. I couldn't do F sharp 7th, so went silent on that bit. I was beaten by a nine-year-old ventriloquist from Rhyl.

The moment that changed me for ever... a practical change was to stop drinking 18 months ago. It's given me more time to do things – I get up earlier and can drive home after parties. It saves a lot of money too!

My greatest inspiration... is human nature at its best, like when people carry out random acts of kindness for each other.

My real-life villain... was this woman on a flight to Sri Lanka at Christmas, who was pretty pissed and got really abusive towards me and my step children. Not a nice experience. You can choose your friends, but you can't choose your family. Or who you sit next to on a plane.

If I could change one thing about myself... it would be my lack of confidence.

At night I dream of... the strangest things: I woke up one night shouting at the bedside light in my hotel room to get the hell out, thinking it was a journalist! I don't think he was from The Independent though.

What I see when I look in the mirror... good teeth and eyes and a growing number of grey hairs.

My favourite item of clothing... a jumper I bought in Marks and Spencer about ten years ago. I call it my "haggis" jumper, because it's the colour of haggis.

I wish I'd never worn... my hair up when I got married.

It's not fashionable but I like... the contents of my wardrobe. I've decided that the best thing, if you can, is to get a dress made if you've got a posh do to go to. It fits properly and you feel comfortable and confident. Gosh, that sounds like an ad for a feminine hygiene product

You wouldn't know it but I'm very good at... fencing. I took an advanced diploma in it when I was at drama school and have been doing it regularly ever since. I love it.

You may not know it but I'm no good at... telling the truth. That thing about the fencing: all lies. Sorry.

All my money goes on... London taxis. I can relax for 20 minutes, catch up on some phone calls and texts, and have a bit of peace.

If I have time to myself... I'm a bit of a spa addict. I could quite happily be pampered all day with facials and massages.

I drive... my faithful old Saab, which isn't very sexy but it is elk-proof.

My house is... an Edwardian semi, near Roath Park in Cardiff. It's my favourite place to be. We've been there just over two years now. The kitchen is the best bit – it's the heart of the home and is bright and spacious.

My favourite building... the Millennium Centre in Cardiff, which not only looks fabulous from the outside with its massive quote from Gwyneth Lewis's poem – "In these stones horizons sing" – but it also has fabulous acoustics inside.

Movie heaven... movie hell would be full of sci-fi and fantasy adventure. I'm not a fan of Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings or anything like that. I don't like farcical comedy films like Wayne's World either. Give me When Harry met Sally or Sleepless in Seattle or Meet Joe Black.

A book that changed me... Jackie Collins' Hollywood Wives. It was the answer I gave at my interview for Manchester University in 1985 when asked what bedtime reading I'd done recently. They didn't offer me a place. What if I'd said War and Peace?

The best invention ever... the women's corset. They pull you in and push you up, in all the right places. Every girl should get one.

My favourite work of art... I went to this fabulous Ron Mueck exhibition once which I've never forgotten. There were rooms filled with giant and tiny human sculptures.

The shops I can't walk past are... those ones that sell those natural soaps and body products – I think they're called "Lush"? The smell is so overpowering I have to cross to the other side of the street to avoid it.

The last album I bought... We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things by Jason Mraz.

The person who really makes me laugh is... my husband David. Soppy, but true. He has a very sharp mind combined with a dry Yorkshire wit, making him a naturally funny man.

In 10 years' time, I hope to be... 52. As opposed to dead. Which would be a bit of a shame.

My greatest regret... is not reporting that woman on the flight to Sri Lanka to the air steward. But seriously, I don't think there's a lot of point in having regrets. Life tends to sort itself out one way or another.

My life in seven words... packed, funny, blessed, happy and highly unpredictable.

A life in brief

The comedienne, actress and script-writer Ruth Jones was born in Porthcawl in 1966. Co-writer, with James Corden, of the BBC's multi-award-winning sitcom Gavin and Stacey, she also plays Nessa in the show. Further television credits include Little Britain, Nighty Night and Fat Friends. She lives with her husband, David, and step-children in Cardiff. Ruth plays Joan Durbeyfield in the BBC adaptation of Tess of the D'Urbervilles which starts on BBC1 on 14 September, and will also be in the TV adaptation of Little Dorrit later in the autumn.

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