Which TV series would you take to a desert island?
Downton Abbey because I’ve never seen a single episode. Actually, I have already been on a desert island, and I hated it.
I went to the Maldives for a week, which should have been the most idyllic holiday, and discovered that I really didn’t like being on a small island. I just sat looking at the sea, thinking: there’s only sea out there.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
I have to admit to the occasional need for Come Dine with Me. I am the most atrocious cook and that’s probably why I find it so entertaining. It looks exotic to me.
Could you be tempted onto Strictly Come Dancing?
I would be rubbish, and I would never put myself through it. Once I was asked to do celebrity rowing where they taught people who had been to Oxford or Cambridge to row against each other. That sounded like too much hard work: really early mornings and having to be quite fit, which I’m not.
Is it true Sue Perkins introduced you to Footlights?
Sue borrowed my bike on our first night in Cambridge, lost it, and offered to buy me a drink in the Footlights club room to say sorry. I don’t think I ever tried out; I just hung around until someone took pity and gave me a line.
Who was your first crush?
David Bowie – the crush hasn’t gone away. I really liked him dressed up as a clown in Ashes to Ashes – there was something about that look I found appealing as a young girl – no idea why.
Who would you take to dinner?
Probably my husband [actor Barnaby Kay], because I can’t think of the last time we went out to dinner. When you’re both actors, it is feast or famine financially and emotionally in your marriage. He’s doing telly at the moment, so we’re not seeing much of each other. But then we could both be out of work for months and thinking: oh please, one of us get a job just to get away.
What are your family favourites?
I’m slightly worried that I am trying to influence my five-year-old son’s tastes too much. I make him watch things that I watched as a kid: Clangers, Danger Mouse, Inspector Gadget, Captain Pugwash… but, like all boys, what he really likes are ninjas and a good explosion.
What do you wake up to?
Radio 4 or – to my husband’s disgust – BBC London with Vanessa Feltz shouting, and me shouting along in agreement until my husband unplugs the radio in disgust. I find her very funny.
What film do you go back to time and again?
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, which I watched with my mum as a very little girl; that comes out at least once a year. I’ve got the soundtrack in my car and not only do I know the words to the songs, I know all the dialogue in between.
Are you in mourning for the end of Spooks?
I am. Mainly not getting to act with Peter Firth for six months of the year. It’s a real pleasure to work with someone when they’re that good and I’ve learnt a lot from him.
Do you feel that after ten years it’s the right time to stop?
The storyline for this last series is the right ending for the show. I don’t know if it’s going to please everybody but it’s a very clever and grown-up end point.
Intriguing… can you give us a clue what happens?
I’m not allowed. I think they might come round and torture me.
What did you enjoy most about playing a Spook?
When you’re a kid, you imagine acting to be singing and fighting and like the movies. Then you become an actor and get the reality, which is often a lot more mundane. But sometimes it’s really nice to run around with guns saving the world.