My Secret Life: Cat Deeley, television presenter, 33

Interview,Charlotte Philby
Saturday 09 January 2010 01:00

My parents were ... total dudes. Strict, but kind – and they instilled in me the confidence to be whoever I wanted to be.

The house I grew up in ... was on a street called Pear Tree Drive. All the houses had gates, and all the kids would play outside together. There was a stream at the bottom of the garden, perfect for frog-catching.

When I was a child I wanted to be ... Julie Andrews. Unfortunately, Julie Andrews had that one covered.

If I could change one thing about myself ... I would be more laissez-faire.

You wouldn't know it but I'm very good at ... yoga.

You may not know it but I'm no good at ... diving. I'm a great swimmer, probably due to the size of my feet. But I never learnt to dive in. Many people have tried to teach me but for some reason it's beyond my capability.

At night I dream of ... flying.

What I see when I look in the mirror ... Completely depends on the day – and, of course, the night I've had before. I find great lighting and a squint of the eyes makes anyone look better.

My favourite items of clothing ... are scarves: sometimes warm and schnuggly, sometimes sparkly and embroidered, almost always gifts.

I drive ... a beaten-up old Volvo which looks as though it has been to Basra and back. I just don't covet cars, so I don't really care what mine looks like. Every time I park in LA the valet spends a ridiculous amount of time noting down the scratches, dents and bumps. Trolleys, walls and palm trees are the enemy.

My house is ... an open house. I love having friends to stay and throwing barbecues. My house feels like a proper home. It's very relaxed with a hippyish vibe.

My favourite work of art is ... I have a Damien Hirst spot painting which I love. It has pride of place over my dining-room table. I also saw the Rothko exhibition at the Tate and his were some of the most exquisitely beautiful pieces I have ever seen.

Movie heaven ... I love 'True Romance'. That, with my couch, some delicious cheese, a couple of glasses of pinot noir and a pair of "comfies", and I'd have a little slice of heaven.

The last album I bought ... was Jay Z, 'The Blueprint 3'.

My secret crush ... is Elvis. Well, it's not actually that secret. I recently went to Graceland, the home of the King, while we were holding auditions for 'So You Think You Can Dance' [US version]. Our flight was delayed and I thought it was all over but then Priscilla arranged for us to visit after-hours.

My greatest regret ... is not having gone to university – although I wouldn't change the fact that I didn't go in order to pursue my career straight after A-levels. I guess in theory I could always go back later in life, but I don't think that's ever going to happen.

The person who really makes me laugh ... is my brother Max. He's the driest, most sarcastic, geniusly funny guy on the planet.

The last time I cried ... I took a couple of days off and went to stay at San Ysidro Ranch in Santa Barbara. I watched 'An Affair to Remember' in front of a cosy fire and bawled like a tiny baby.

My five-year plan ... is simply to keep on going.

A life in brief

Cat Deeley was born in Birmingham in October 1976. She made her name as a children's TV presenter on SM:TV Live alongside Ant and Dec, before relocating to the States where she is now a primetime television presenter and an entertainment correspondent for ABC News. Deeley lives alone in Los Angeles but has briefly returned to the UK to host a British version of the US show So You Think You Can Dance. The live show kicks off tonight on BBC1

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