First Impressions: Sharon Small

… is a Scottish actress, perhaps best known for her role as Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers in the BBC television adaptation of The Inspector Lynley Mysteries. She has also had lead roles in Law & Order: UK, and Trust Me, and has enjoyed success in film, theatre and radio. She lives in London with her partner and children.

What are you working on at the moment?

I’m working on the play, Still Alice.

When are you at your happiest?

When I know I’ve achieved everything I’m supposed to achieve in a day and I can watch a movie with my kids.

What is your greatest fear?

Not being around long enough for my children.

What is your earliest memory?

Reaching a threepenny bit up to a counter in a shop. We lived in a tenement and there was a little shop at the bottom of the tenement; I remember holding up this threepenny bit and it catching the light as I reached up to pay, so I must have been very small.

Who has been your greatest influence?

Probably my mother.

What do you dislike about yourself?

I’ve got a terrible habit of biting the skin around the nails on my fingers – they look red-raw quite a lot. And I apologise too much.

What is your most treasured possession?

I don’t really get connected to possessions in that way.

What trait do you most deplore in others?

The tendency to humiliate others. It’s not even bullying so much, but just someone who is prepared to humiliate somebody. I find that really, really offensive.

Do you have any pets?

We have a couple of cats. They’re brother and sister – a persian mix. They’re really nice, except when they are fighting in the middle of the night and bouncing on the bed thinking they’re funny.

Favourite book?

I really, really loved A prayer for Owen meany. I read it way, way back when I was 16 and it had a profound effect on me.

Favourite piece of music?

I love Samuel Barber's Adagio for strings. I also really love muse’s Resistance and Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody.

Favourite film?

It’s A Wonderful Life.

Favourite meal?

A good beef Wellington with parmesan chips. I love a good pasta, too.

Who would you most like to come to dinner?

I’d have to go back to the people I emulated when I was young, and that would be Danny Kaye, James Stewart and Jane Fonda.

What is the nastiest thing anyone has ever said to you?

Probably once, because I’m an older mother, somebody asked if my child was my grandchild, which really hurt deep inside.

What is your secret vice?

Watching indie romances while being able to eat what I want – probably along the lines of lots of slices of cake.

Do you believe in aliens?

I don’t really think about it but, weirdly, I worked with someone recently who really believes in aliens and it got me thinking.

Do you write thank you notes?

Shockingly no. I have every intention of doing them, and I’ve got lots of thank you notes, but I rarely get them out.

Which phrase do you most overuse?

I’m sorry. And probably some swear words – the F word.

What single thing would improve the quality of your life?

The world to wake up and come together and stop the corporate madness that we have trapped ourselves in. Tell us something that people might not know about you. If you asked my partner, he’d say it’s that I’m really funny but people think I’m really serious.

What would you like your epitaph to say?

I saw a beautiful gravestone once, so I’d like to emulate the sort of thing I saw. It was basically along the lines of saying, ‘You are standing where I once stood and one day you will be where I am, so make sure to live.’

Still Alice is currently touring the UK. For more information, visit