Lesley Sharp: ‘I called the police after seeing what I thought was a body. It turned out to be a wetsuit

Born in Manchester, Lesley Sharp, 61, graduated from drama school in 1982, the year she appeared in Top Girls at the Royal Court theatre in London. She had film roles in Rita, Sue And Bob Too, The Full Monty and Vera Drake; her TV work includes Scott & Bailey, Three Girls and Before We Die, coming later this month to Channel 4. She is married with two sons and lives in London.

When were you happiest?
When I am up in the air and about to hit the water, literally and metaphorically.

What is your earliest memory?
In a cot, aged three. I was in a hotel room with my parents on a weekend away in Southport. At home I slept in a bed and I remember standing up in the cot and saying to my dad, “Am I going to turn into a baby again?”

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
Sometimes I feel my glass is a bit half empty and I am a bit Eeyore-ish.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Self-pity.

Aside from a property, what’s the most expensive thing you’ve bought?
My car, a dilapidated old Jag.

What makes you unhappy?
Being in rooms that smell funny and have too much furniture.

What do you most dislike about your appearance?
I don’t dislike anything, but I am definitely finding the ageing process “interesting” and not wholly comfortable.

What is your most unappealing habit?
Tidying up around people, wiping down surfaces and moving plates before people have finished eating, and making beds while people are still in them.

If you could bring something extinct back to life, what would you choose?
My adoptive mum and dad: my dad died in 2008 and my mum died when I was 15, and I just feel like I didn’t know her really at all and I would love to talk to her.

Which book changed your life?
All the Enid Blyton books – they opened my eyes to a bunch of kids living a life that was so far away from mine.

What is the worst thing anyone’s said to you?
A girl at school once said to me, “You are an overfed, under-washed farmhand.” I was 12.

What was the best kiss of your life?
A great big snog in 1992 outside Charing Cross station.

When did you last cry, and why?
At the end of It’s A Sin by Russell T Davies.

What is the closest you’ve come to death?
I got run over when I was three. I ran across a road in Manchester and was hit by a car. I only had concussion, but I could have died.

What single thing would improve the quality of your life?
A home on the shores of Lake Como.

What has been your closest brush with the law?
When I lived in a flat in Herne Hill, London, I saw a body hanging over the landing of the flat above and thought someone had taken their own life, so I called the police. They found a wetsuit that someone had hung up to dry.

What song would you like played at your funeral?
Les Fleurs by Minnie Riperton.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
That there’s always something else.

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