…is an English actor who was married to the late John Thaw. Since making her theatre debut in 1951 she has gone on to appear in numerous theatre & television productions. She has also enjoyed a successful career as an author.
What are you working on at the moment?
I have just published my debut novel, Miss Carter’s War.

When were you at your happiest?
I don’t think there was a moment when I was happiest; you have little moments of happiness and horrible moments of sadness. The last time I felt a wave of happiness was when I smelled some honeysuckle in the garden.

What is your greatest fear?
Not being able to drive any more.

What is your earliest memory?
My dad worked in pubs and we often lived above the pub. I remember lying in bed as a child and hearing the noise from downstairs. When Dad called time there was always a bit of an uproar.

What do you most dislike about yourself?
I’m a bit of a perfectionist. I’m never happy with what I’ve done.

Who has been your greatest influence?
When you reach my age there are so many people you’ve been impressed by and learnt from, but I suppose my father. I’ve inherited some of his values.

What is your most treasured possession?
A gold chain that has on it my mother’s wedding ring, a ring my father used to wear that belonged to my grandfather, and my own two wedding rings from my first husband [actor Alec Ross] and second husband [John Thaw].

What trait do you most deplore in others?
Lack of empathy.

What do you most dislike about your appearance?
I’m past caring about that!

What is your favourite book?
Books have meant diff erent things to me at different times in my life. I just have a favourite book of the moment.

What is your favourite film?
Withnail And I and The Producers. I know all the dialogue of both films. They’re brilliant.

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And your favourite piece of music?

The second movement of the Ravel piano concerto.

What is your favourite meal?
Fish and chips. And mushy peas.

Who would you most like to come to dinner?
Aneurin Bevan, Thatcher, Churchill, Sylvia Pankhurst and Margaret Fell, who was one of the founders of Quakerism. They’re all people that have always spoken their mind without fear.

What is the nastiest thing anyone has ever said to you?
I once had a review that said I was unbearable to the eye and unendurable to the ear.

Do you believe in aliens?

What is your secret vice?
I swear like a trooper. I have the most awful mouth. I have to say constantly to my grandchildren: ‘You must never say these words that Nana says to you.’

Do you write thank-you notes?
Yes, I do.

Which phrase do you most overuse?
‘Darling.’ That’s purely to cover the fact that I can’t remember people’s names.

What single thing would improve the quality of your life?
If I could have back all the time in my life I’ve spent looking for things I’ve lost I would have about two extra years.

Can you tell us one thing people might not know about you?
There’s an image that I’m incredibly strong – I think what might surprise people is how much I cry. I cry if I see somebody looking sad in the street.

What would you like your epitaph to read?
Absolutely nothing. I don’t want to be remembered – I couldn’t care less. I think once you’re gone, you’re gone. Quakers don’t have epitaphs; they just have a grave with a name on. That’s all I want.

Miss Carter’s War, by Sheila Hancock, is published by Bloomsbury, priced £12.99.