What's your all-time favourite TV programme?
BBC News 24. I'm simply addicted to it.
If you weren't doing this job what would you be doing?
I'm not entirely sure but I'd probably be teaching something. I teach in drama schools and it really interests me. I went straight to drama college from school instead of going to university.
If you could take your pick of one leading role which would it be?
Mrs Alving in Ibsen's Ghosts.
Have you ever turned down a role you later regretted?
Tell us about your most memorable filming disaster.
I once turned up late on set for Michael Winner. I'm usually quite punctual and he was very cross. We're good friends now!
If you were controller of a TV channel for the day, what would your schedule look like?
There'd be lots of tennis and some proper plays, not series, but classical and modern plays. We have a wonderful heritage of drama in this country.
What's your idea of a perfect Sunday?
A day in the garden with all the family at home: my son Samuel West [also an actor], my other son Joe and his wife and two children, my stepdaughter and her son who now live in our basement with his rock kit. Oh, and lots of work coming up! I really enjoy cooking and my husband Timothy is a wine buff.
What advice have you got for aspiring young actors?
Don't read drama at GCSE, A'Level or at university. Read English Literature, a language, music, history or architecture, and then go to acting school. An actor needs to know about life not drama.