200 answers to 200 questions
To mark the 200th instalment of Five Minutes With - in which the BBC's Matthew Stadlen interviews a famous face against the clock - here are 200 of their questions and answers.
Actors, directors, musicians, politicians, writers, sportsmen and women, artists, scientists, historians and comedians have all been questioned for the allotted five minutes.
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The first was actor Jason Donovan in October 2008, the 200th was cook Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. The author Jackie Collins rattled through 40 questions in that time, while the director Sir Jonathan Miller answered just over a question a minute.
Here is a selection of the questions and answers, one from each interview (but not in chronological order).
Religion and philosophy
1. Dawn French - Q: One of the things you've been most famous for is the Vicar of Dibley. Do you believe in an afterlife? A: "Yes, I think I do believe in an afterlife and I think that is just because I can't bear the thought of the final end."
Have you ever said a prayer?”
2. Pink - Q: Does religion play a big part in your life? A: "My mother is Jewish, my father was sort of an atheist Catholic who said the nuns prepared him for Vietnam. I love Native American spirituality and paganism, and I've studied Buddhism. I think organised religion is one of the top problems of the world actually, so no, I'd say I steer clear of religion and go straight towards spirituality."
3. Ian Hislop - Q: If you were a saint, I know it's unlikely, but what would you like to be the patron saint of? A: "Oh, lawyers."
4. Billy Bragg - Q: Life philosophy - do you have one? A: "Yeah - do it yourself."
5. Ricky Gervais - Q: Are you spiritual if you're not religious? A: "I wonder at the beauty of nature. But the simple fact I understand nature to a certain degree, it doesn't take away its beauty or the revelation of its existence. I love this thing called consciousness and this thing called love, but I just think there's a logical or biological explanation for everything."
6. Richard Dawkins - Q: Have you ever said a prayer? A: "Of course, when I was a child I said them all the time."
7. Omid Djalili - Q: Are you still religious? A: "Yes, when you grow up with a faith that says God is not five or six, God is One, all religions are different chapters of the same book, mankind is one although we have a kind of unity and diversity, you can't really argue with that as much as you'd probably like to. I used to rebel against it but then I thought 'yeah, alright fair enough'."
I used to rebel against religion but then I thought 'yeah, alright fair enough'”
8. Seal - Q: Do you have a life philosophy? A: "Yes. It's not what it's gonna be, it's what it is now."
9. Alain de Botton - Q: How do you get your guidance on morality, on what's right and what's wrong? A: "It's not hard, I think we all have a moral sense. The problem with a moral sense is that it gets squashed and pulled in other directions. We tend to all of us have a very intuitive sense, and I think literature and art has a role in reminding us to do what we know is good, but very often doesn't seem so glamorous and exciting or possible when we're up against it.
10. Peter Hitchens - Q: How big a part of your personal life does religion play? A: "It's in everything because it has to be. The world was made by God, we live and move and have our being in God. Every time we think seriously about anything, any action or any experience, then if that's what you believe in, then you come up very rapidly against that fact."
11. Sir Jonathan Miller - Q: Does mortality scare you? A: "No. If by mortality you mean my forthcoming death, I'm much more scared by the death of people that I know and love. My own death I'm only anxious about because it is often preceded by agony and discomfort, and not the fear of the annihilation."
12. Danny DeVito - Q: What's it like being Danny DeVito? A: "It's so much fun. I have a ball from the moment I get up until the moment I go to bed and then I think I dream funny too. I have a lot of funny dreams."
13. Jonathan Ross - Q: Who do you think would win an arm-wrestle, you or me? A: "Me."
14. Michael McIntyre - Q: Is there a secret to your hair success? A: "My hair is more successful than me. It's undeniable. Sometimes I do shows and people say 'I loved it' and I go 'What bit?' and they go 'Your hair - your hair is hilarious'. I'm worried I'm going to wake up bald with a note that says 'I've gone solo, I'm touring on my own, I don't need you. Yours sincerely, your hair.'"
15. Serena Williams - Q: Do you love dressing up when you go out? A: "I do if I go out in LA or New York or London or Paris, but if I'm just out in Florida I really kind of chillax."
16. Stephen Fry - Q: Secret skills that we don't know you have? A: "I like doing magic. People may know I did that because I once did a magic trick with Hugh [Laurie] funnily enough on Wogan [Terry Wogan's chatshow] years ago."
17. Kirstie Allsopp - Q: Can you ever switch off? A: "No."
18. Andrew Flintoff - Q: You've got a great reputation for sportsmanship, where do you think that came from in you? A: "Possibly me dad, his values, and also being brought up in the Lancashire system from being nine. They instil some good values in you."
The older I've got, the more comfortable I am in my own skin”
19. Lord Sugar - Q: How would you describe yourself in a sentence? A: "Very hard to get on with, very rough and gruff to new people that I come across, very hesitant, very sceptical, but actually, with all of that, a very nice fellow."
20. Matthew Parris - Q: How would you describe yourself? A: "'A man of modest abilities all ruthlessly exploited' was what somebody once said of me. I think I'm a fairly generous person but not always kind. I think I'm a bit of a cold fish, and I don't quite know why, and there isn't anything I can do about it."
21. Armstrong and Miller - Q: And you finished your PhD? A: Ben Miller - "I haven't finished it. Someone somewhere is still waiting for me to hand that in."
22. Aishwarya Rai Bachchan - Q: What is like being called the most beautiful woman in the world? A: "Well it's sweet and I thank people for [their] generosity. I don't entirely believe it. But it's a good way to start an interview. So thank you."
23. Sir Richard Branson - Q: Describe yourself in a sentence or two. A: "I think that I'm somebody that has great difficulty saying no. I love saying yes and that's got me into trouble on occasions, but I love a new challenge."
24. Jo Brand - Q: You've played the organ on television, do you play the organ in real life - do you still play? A: "I do play the organ in real life, I've got one at home I think it's enormously comical and I just love banging away on it. It's like being in Blackpool."
25. Michael Sheen - Q: Tell me something that you're good at that I wouldn't know about. A: "I'm the best celebrity clothes-folder. I fold clothes brilliantly. When I'm in clothes shops, I take a sort of pride in being able to fold the clothes better than the people who work in the shop."
26. Pete Waterman - Q: How would you describe yourself in a sentence? A: "Lucky, lucky, lucky."
Do you ever get scared yourself?”
27. Dame Vivienne Westwood - Q: You've said you never wash your bras. Is that true? A: "Yeah, because my husband uses our washing machine, I've never actually used it, ever. And I just wash little bits of things that get dirty. But a lot of the time, if you've got a grease spot, just put talcum powder on it and it absolutely disappears. It's brilliant."
28. Meera Syal - Q: You do different things in your career. When are you most you? Doing what? A: "Netball - I play netball. And I box, I love boxing. But I hope that's not the real me though because I'm nasty in the ring."
29. Louis Theroux - Q: Are you in real life uptight or laid-back? A: "I used to think I was laid-back but as I get older I realise I'm pretty uptight, and I'm getting more and more comfortable with that."
30. Holly Valance - Q: Can you tell me how you would describe yourself in a couple of sentences? A: "Er… sarcastic, dry, loyal - just a total legend, basically."
31. Sesame Street - Q: Big Bird, can you fly? A: "I can if I get an airline ticket."
32. Darcey Bussell - Q: Do you dance around the house? A: "With my kids, yes I do."
33. Mel B - Q: Do you ever get scared yourself? A: "Yeah spiders. I don't like big spiders."
34. Melanie C - Q: Do you listen to lots of music? A: "I do. I go through phases when I listen to more at some times than others. I think since becoming a mum, my life has changed so much I don't listen to it as much as I did."
35. Jason Donovan - Q: Do you like the ironing? A: "I don't mind ironing. If I had more time, I'd spend a lot more time ironing in my life. I do like to make the beds and I do like to vacuum, but my proudest thing around the house is probably mowing the lawn."
Do you ever look at another man and think 'wow I wish I looked like him?'”
36. Alesha Dixon - Q: You're a beautiful woman - have you felt sort of pressure in your life to conform to any stereotypes of beauty? A: "I think sometimes for women of colour they feel like they have to westernise themselves to be seen as beautiful. But the older I've got, the more comfortable I am in my own skin. I don't listen to the pressures that the magazines put out there that women have to be a particular size or look a certain way. You are how you are, how you are is good enough and you don't have to be like anybody else to be good enough."
37. Michael Flatley - Q: Do you think you were born an entertainer? A: "I think in my heart I didn't know it when I was growing up. But something seems to have taken over and I think the more I'm on stage, the more I feel comfortable, and then you feel as if you are."
38. Richard E Grant - Q: Is it right that you don't drink alcohol? A: "Yes, I'm allergic to it. No enzyme in my blood system. I discovered that when I was 19 so if I drink anything at all I can keep it down for 10 minutes and then I'm violently ill for 24 hours."
39. Mariella Frostrup - Q: Would you describe yourself as a people person? A: "I have no idea, you'd have to ask 'people'."
40. Vince Cable - Q: Does anything frighten you or scare you? A: "I'm not great with heights. But, you know, I'm not easily scared."
41. David Gandy - Q: Do you ever look at another man think 'Wow I wish I looked like him'? A: "Yes. Paul Newman."
42. David Baddiel - Q: Is there any insecurity that comes with having such a multifarious life? A: "Oh yeah... I sometimes think I should have maybe just been a writer or just been a comedian."
43. Dame Joan Bakewell - Q: What's the secret to you looking so good? A: "Flattery, flattery. That's all it is."
I'm allergic to alcohol - no enzyme in my blood system”
44. Shami Chakrabarti - Q: Can you describe yourself in a sentence? A: "I am a short, mouthy, human-rights lawyery, campaigning mother and friend."
45. Lily Cole - Q: How tall are you? A: "I say 5ft 11in because it's easier, but I'm 5ft 10 and a half inches."
46. Craig David - Q: What makes you happy? A: "People enjoying my music and coming up to me and telling me a story about how it's affected them in some positive way."
47. Rolf Harris - Q: How tall are you? A: "I used to be 5ft 10 and a half, probably about 5ft 9 and a half inches [now]. As you get older you shrink. So I've heard."
48. Russell Howard - Q: What's the best thing about being Russell Howard? A: "My girlfriend's nice, my family are nice and I do a job that I love."
49. James Blunt - Q: Did you take a guitar with you to Kosovo? A: "I did. As a soldier, you take away your uniform, and you are a human and you have hobbies like anyone else. So yeah, I took a guitar where some people would have taken a football."
50. Amanda Holden - Q: So do you feel you've relaxed into your own skin a bit? A: "Yes, totally relaxed into my own very taut skin."
51. John Sergeant - Q: Would you say that you're a showman at heart, a performer? A: "Of course I am, I want to show off. That's bound to be the case, isn't it? And also if it suits you physically, if you respond well to that kind of physical pressure, you do things that surprise yourself and you think actually that is me at my best."
I probably don't have enough imagination to be highly strung”
52. Kate Nash - Q: Are you a feminist? A: "Yes, I'm a feminist. I think everybody should be, because feminism is about equality of the sexes which we all believe in, don't we?"
53. Jerry Springer - Q: Does anything shock you on television that you see these days? A: "I don't think you can be a grown-up in today's world and honestly say you're shocked by anything, so no, the answer is no. I read the newspapers, so how could I be shocked by anything?"
54. Katherine Jenkins - Q: You're quite chatty, I've seen you live in clips and you're always very chatty and banter with the audience, very relaxed... A: "Well I like the banter with the audience, it's those moments that I think relax people and break down that barrier. I think that's really important in our kind of music. The first time I sang was at the Millennium Stadium, 73,00 people - nothing's ever going to be that bad again, so no, I'm not nervous."
55. Sir Ian McKellen - Q: What sort of personality are you - are you laid-back or are you highly strung? A: "I try to be relaxed. I probably don't have enough imagination to be highly strung."
56. Dom Joly - Q: How are you at mowing the lawn? A: "I've got a gardener."
57. Lenny Kravitz - Q: What do you think you're like to spend time with, to hang out with? A: "I can either be really charming or extremely boring, depending on when you catch me."
58. Jeanette Winterson - Q: Do you think a lot? Do you sometimes find yourself just thinking? A: "I think non-stop and the only way I can stop thinking is when I'm running. It's when my head empties completely and for me that's freedom."
What do you do in your private time?”
59. Eamonn Holmes - Q: What do you think your best quality is? A: "Endurance, stamina, I think I can absorb things quickly, and outside that, getting up early."
60. Sir Terry Pratchett - Q: What do you do in your private time? A: "I play computer games, I garden, I go for long walks. But when you're a writer all your time is spent being a writer, whatever else it is you actually think you're doing."
61. Vic Reeves - Q: I think one of your hobbies is bird-watching? A: "I do bird-watch. But I don't go out with the intention of bird-watching. The birds come to me and I view them and then tell them what they are."
62. Rachel Stevens - Q: Do you still go clubbing? What's a big night out for Rachel Stevens? A: "God no, I haven't been out clubbing for ages. A good night out for me is lots of food and a big mug of tea in front of the TV."
63. Jon Snow - Q: Do you deliberately use exciting ties and socks in order to look distinctive? A: "No, I do it because I think men look very boring in suits, and so far we haven't reached a point where men don't wear suits to read news."
64. Lisa Snowdon - Q: Have you always been comfortable in your own skin? A: "No. You go through stages as a youngster where you're not happy. I certainly was bullied when I was very young. In junior school I was very, very skinny, and then I was a slow developer, a late developer. I grew in all directions and became quite comfortable in my skin, but you go through a lot of stages as a young woman."
65. Pet Shop Boys - Q: Would you guys ever like to travel into space? A: Neil Tennant - "No, I'd hate to. I get claustrophobia and I would hate the idea. I can think of nothing worse than being put in a rocket and then they say 'I'm sorry you're now going into orbit, landing on the moon, staying there for a week and then coming back again'."
I can either be really charming or extremely boring”
66. Dame Jacqueline Wilson - Q: How many books do you have in your library at home? A: "It's about 15,000. No, actually it's probably a bit more, because that was at the last estimation and I keep on buying books and they've actually spilled over from all the many, many shelves and are in little piles all over the carpet again."
67. David Starkey - Q: Now you have a reputation, amongst some, perhaps, as the rudest man in Britain. Is this preposterous and unfair? A: "I think it is preposterous and unfair, but on the other hand it was extremely valuable. I always say it was worth at least £100,000 a year."
68. Jodie Marsh - Q: What sort of long-lasting impact did bullying have on you? A: "It emotionally scarred me for years - I didn't have much confidence, wasn't very secure, wasn't very happy, had lots of negative side effects from it."
69. Alex James - Q: Now this might sound a rather strange question, but are you shy? A: "Um, no."
If life had turned out different
70. Sir Michael Gambon - Q: You started off as an engineer. Was that going to be a serious career for you? A: "No, not really. I drifted into that and I did that for a while and then the acting bug struck when I was about 17 or 18, and that's been my life ever since. I've always been obsessed by acting."
71. Prof Brian Cox - Q: You were a pop star with D:Ream, a keyboard player, and you're a scientist. Which has given you the most pleasure? A: "Scientist, without doubt. Music is a career for the young, briefly. Unless you're the Rolling Stones."
72. Juliette Binoche - Q: What do you think you would have done if you had not become an actress? A: "Paint… I think I could have done anything."
73. Frank Skinner - Q: If you hadn't ended up doing all the many things you have done, what would you probably have done with your life? A: "I used to drink a lot so I fear I'd probably be living on waste ground with a lot of carrier bags, shouting at people as they went past."
Which gives you the bigger buzz, which side of the camera?”
74. Deepika Padukone - Q: If you could swap Bollywood for Hollywood, would you do it? A: "No - as an actor I would definitely want to do different types of cinema... but at the same time I would say I'm very happy doing Indian cinema."
75. Ann Widdecombe - Q: Do you think you would've been a good prime minister? A: "I think I would have been a first-class prime minister but I don't think you'll find many of my colleagues would agree with me."
76. Jon Culshaw - Q: What do you think you would have done if it hadn't been impressions? A: "I think probably something quite unusual still. Maybe an archaeologist. I love the idea to be in Mexico looking for dinosaurs."
77. Richard Hammond - Q: Did you think about studying engineering? A: "Yes I did. I got into university as an architect, which is related, but then I couldn't afford to go to university so I canned it and got into radio instead."
78. Sheila Hancock - Q: Is there something you'd change about your career? A: "Well, years ago I was in a very successful show in the West End and I could have gone to America with it, but I chose to stay at home and have a baby. So instead of an international career I've got a lovely daughter and grandchildren."
79. Helena Christensen - Q: Hand on heart, which gives you the bigger buzz, which side of the camera? A: "Honestly I would say 50/50. Modelling has been a really cool experience working with incredible photographers that obviously push buttons inside of you to perform in some way. But doing photography is something I know I'll be doing for the rest of my life."
80. Elle Macpherson - Q: Do you see yourself more now as a model or a businesswoman? A: "I have been doing business for a really long time and I consider myself to be an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurial spirit."
Tools of my trade
81. Paul Bettany - Q: How do you see yourself as an actor? A: "Woefully underused."
82. Chris Addison - Q: When you're on a panel show, do you feel competitive with the other comedians or do you enjoy collaborative comedy? A: "You do feel competitive, yes, there's no other way. You can't help that, but collaborative is the best. The best thing on Mock The Week is when something happens, somebody says something and another person says another thing and we all build the idea. That's when it's at its funniest and most enjoyable."
I just was not sharing the rhythms of the day with the rest of the human race”
83. Sir Chris Hoy - Q: Is it ever boring? A: "It can be boring, yeah. If you're doing long road rides and if the weather's bad. But ultimately, you know it's important and it's something that's going to hopefully win you a gold medal, and you have to put the hours in if you want to get the success at the end."
84. Simon Schama - Q: Why does history matter? A: "History matters because we find out what it's like to be in a human skin, simply. It delivers no more but no less than poetry or philosophy, which is quite something."
85. Jonathan Sumption QC - Q: How do you persuade someone of a difficult argument? A: "You reduce it to its simplest dimensions. Ultimately law is just common sense with knobs on."
86. Akshay Kumar - Q: You do your own stunts, and I've heard that you've even dropped out of an aeroplane at 1,000ft onto a hot air balloon - is this true? A: "Yeah that's right. That was long back. That was at least about eight years back. I wouldn't try it again."
87. Helen Skelton - Q: Try to describe the challenge of presenting live television. A: "When you've got two cats, two dogs, a tortoise, a random instrument-playing man - we had a guitar balloon man one day - and that kind of thing, there's no time to get scared because you literally do not know what anyone's going to say or what's going to happen. It's fun!"
88. Lang Lang - Q: Who is the hardest composer to play - for you? A: "Probably Bach."
89. Stewart Lee - Q: Do you end in the evening and think this has been a fantastic routine and sometimes the opposite? A: "Yeah. The same thing can go really well or really badly and everyone in stand-up has theories about why that is, like don't do stuff about shoes in Newcastle on a Thursday or whatever, there's all kinds of specifics. But you can never really ever tell, and what annoys me is that after 20 years it's still as inconvenient to go well as it is to go badly. Both of them end up giving you an adrenalin rush that means you can't sleep afterwards."
Is it ever boring?”
90. Damian Lewis - Q: Do you prefer working on stage or on screen? A: "I love doing both. The thing that finally got me down about theatre work was the way in which I just was not sharing the rhythms of the day with the rest of the human race. I was always going to work at the wrong time, I was always getting up at the wrong time and I found it rather disorientating."
91. Arlene Phillips - Q: What do you think the key to being a great dancer is? Is there something you can generalise for all different types of dance? A: "The key to being a great dancer is not only to have the technique that you need for whatever style you're doing, but to be able to tell a story through dance. No dancer is complete if they just do the steps."
92. Matt Lucas - Q: Does acting challenge you? A: "Yes, because I'm not a very good actor. I think I'm an alright performer, but I don't think I'm a very good actor. So I'm always struggling and feeling very self-conscious and feeling very fraudulent when I act."
93. Paul McKenna - Q: How long does it take you, typically, do hypnotise someone? A: "It depends. The hypnotising isn't really the important thing for me, that's a tool. It's what you then do with it. So it depends on the person, it depends on the skill of the operator. There's so many variables. It doesn't work every time for everything. In fact we have a saying - anyone who says they got a 100% success rate doesn't have enough clients."
94. Michael Morpurgo - Q: How important do you think telling stories out loud is? A: "It's one of the great ways we have to communicate our feelings. Telling them out loud is wonderful because adding the voice to the written word seems to me to give power to the story which isn't there necessarily on the page."
95. John Motson - Q: Do you know how many matches you've commentated on? A: "I've done it for 40 years television commentary and I've normally averaged between 40 and 50 games a season, so it would be somewhere short of 2,000."
96. Al Murray - Q: Is it easier to be funny when you're in character? A: "Yeah, but I think everyone is in persona when they're doing stand-up. Generally, they're doing a version of themselves."
Do you have a pre-concert routine?”
97. Miriam Margolyes - Q: Where does the performance come from in you? A: "I don't know. My parents perhaps. I was conceived during an air raid. That could have had something to do with it."
98. Mitchell and Webb - Q: Do you ever have creative differences? A: David Mitchell - "Yes. But not as often as all that. I think we have more personal differences."
99. Fiona Shaw - Q: You're a great believer in the power of words. A: "I'm a great believer in the fact that I make my living from words. I'm very grateful to words. When I was at school, the teachers used to say that I talked too much. And I did, I still do. It's fine I make my living from talking too much."
100. Stephen Poliakoff - Q: Are you a political writer? A: "I have great faith in the intelligence of the audience and of the electorate, and I think that in the wider sense I am a political writer. I think that the people that rule us, who run our media and our politics often underestimate the intelligence of the electorate. My work tries to celebrate that and tries to show that people are more complicated than they're often given credit for, which I think, in a sense, is a political stance."
101. Tony Parsons - Q: What do you think the secret to being a successful columnist is? A: "I think you need to be in touch with the mood in the nation. I think even if you disagree with it, you need to know what people are saying. A few years ago my wife and I, Yuriko, were talking about moving to Tokyo - she's Japanese - and one of the reasons that we didn't is because I wouldn't be able to work as a newspaper columnist. Because although with modern technology and modern gadgetry, you can be anywhere, allegedly, but actually you need to be just hearing what people are saying about the snow or the Chilean miners or the cuts or the students and all that you just need to feel it."
102. Robert Peston - Q: What is the best bit about your job? A: "Meeting unbelievably interesting people and thinking about some of the world's most interesting problems every hour of the day."
Sometimes I look at what the critics have said and I rethink what I've done”
103. Alexei Sayle - Q: Did you enjoy being on the alternative comedy circuit? A: "I don't know if enjoy is the right word, really. I don't think I ever actually really enjoyed being a stand-up comedian because there was a kind of desperate drive to be successful. I think when you're in the middle of creating an artform - which is what we did - sometimes you are ecstatic. It's dizzying, but enjoyment doesn't really encompass the feeling."
104. Ruby Wax - Q: Do you think it's a hard world, television? A: "I think I had 20 years, and that's more than blondes get."
105. Tim Westwood - Q: Do you prefer DJing in studios or out and about? A: "To be honest, I love it all. I think in this day and age you got to do everything. So you just can't be hot in the streets and in the clubs, you've got to be hot on the radio, you've got to try and jump on TV if you can as well. So it's about doing everything, not just trying to do one thing. And I love it all. I think the thing with the clubs, you got that direct relationship with people."
106. Hanif Kureishi - Q: You write about love and lust and race and all sorts of things. How would you describe love to me? A: "I'm fascinated by people's passion for one another and I guess love is the central subject of most artists in the Western world. Love, marriage and everything that comes out of that. It's right at the heart of how we live and what we as artists want to explore."
107. Sir Patrick Stewart - Q: Try to describe what it's like just being on stage in front of an audience? A: "It feels like being a giant. It's a fantastic thing because I don't feel like it in real life. I also feel like when I'm on stage I can do anything, which I don't feel I can in real life."
108. Sir Terry Wogan - Q: Have you ever completely lost it on the show? A: "I lose it nearly every morning, for long periods. But I only really lost it for a really long time for about half an hour, when my former producer - the great and lovely Paul Walters, who was a very dear friend - broke wind on air. I've never heard anything quite like it in my life."
109. Hayley Westenra - Q: Do you have a pre-concert routine? A: "I guess I do. I like my own space before I go on, some artists love the fuss and all of that but I like being on my own."
You've played an iconic man of peace in Gandhi and also a spectacular gangster”
110. Sir Andrew Motion - Q: What do you think are the essential differences between poetry and prose? A: "There are two essential differences, one is a formal one and one is the rest of it. And the formal difference is that by and large - and there are exceptions - the lines in a piece of prose go to the edge of the page, and the lines in a poem don't. And when they don't, almost an infinite variety of things happens. The other difference is that although a piece of prose is perfectly well able to deliver a very strong emotional content - it makes you laugh, it makes you cry - I think that poetry has an access to our strong feelings that is more powerful than any other kind of written form. So for me that's the crucial difference."
111. Tracey Emin - Q: Are you happy to take criticism of your artwork? A: "Yes, really happy. Sometimes I look at what the critics have said and I rethink and relook at what I've done, and think 'yeah they were right actually, I never saw it from that point of view' and it can be really constructive and useful."
112. Michael Palin - Q: Was Monty Python epoch-defining? A: "Evidently, but I didn't think so at the time. It was just another television show, but it was one which had fewer rules than the shows before. But basically we were ripping off Spike Milligan."
113. Ian McEwan - Q: How do you dream up your characters? A: "I sit around and mope, stare out the window, go for long moody walks and let them slowly into my life."
114. Sir Ben Kingsley - Q: You've played an iconic man of peace in Gandhi and also a spectacular gangster - where do your performances come from? A: "They come from my love of life and my thrill at meeting fresh faces and new people."
115. Clive Anderson - Q: Has your legal training helped you with your stand-up, which you did at the beginning of the 1980s, and with your presenting? A: "I wouldn't say it helped with the stand-up. But there was the time when it seemed to me that it made sense that I'd done a bit of stand-up and writing comedy, and I'd been a barrister doing criminal work, which is knock-about kind of stuff - you do a lot of questioning of people and cross-examining. It seemed a natural fit. I was used to asking people questions, and trying to be funny, and that's what came together almost by accident."
Oh crikey, we've only got five minutes - art, what does it mean?”
116. Bill Bailey - Q: Do you prefer performing in front of big audiences or small audiences? A: "Big audiences are very exciting, thousands of people and there's this great sense of an event, but actually to be honest smaller venues serve the comedy better I think. More intimate. If you ask questions of an audience, you can hear what they're saying."
117. Simon Callow - Q: Do you have an pre-acting routines? A: "Yes, I'm a very ritualistic person and I set up structures, but I vary them from job to job. So on one job I'll always have a cup of tea half an hour before the show, in another job I won't, I'll absolutely refuse to have tea - at all. I mustn't have tea, whatever happens I mustn't have tea."
118. Fern Britton - Q: What do you think is the secret to a good interviewer, because you've interviewed a lot of people? A: "Listen. Listen to what they're saying and get ready to go with the flow. You can have a structure in your head, which is great, but be ready to take it off."
119. Iain M Banks - Q: How difficult it was for you to get published in the first place? A: "Quite difficult. It took me about a million words and five or six novels before finally doing it. There is a theory that says you have to write a million words of rubbish before you get published. Unless you're really clever - my pal Ken MacLeod, he's clever and he got his very first novel published, which is cheating I think."
120. Peter Ackroyd - Q: Can you tell me a bit about the role of time in your writing? A: "That's what it's all about. Time, the echoic effects of time, the continuities of time, the feeling that time is behind most of our motion."
121. Juliet Stevenson - Q: Is there a hardest emotion to play? A: "I still think that grief, real grief, is the hardest thing to play because she's an elusive creature. You never know whether you're going to find her, whether you're going to be able to really weep or not."
122. Sir Richard Eyre - Q: What do you think the best quality in an actor is? A: "I would say intelligence. Intelligence and wit are crucial."
Do you still use skills that you picked up on Blue Peter?”
123. AA Gill - Q: You've sometimes caused offence with your writing - do you ever set out to cause offence, do you deliberately cause offence? A: "No, firm but fair is what I am."
124. Brian Sewell - Q: What is art? A: "I don't know. Does anybody know? Art is something that brings people like me to life. We need it. It's the drug. I have to have it. I go skiing, I want to stop. Three days skiing, sliding about, I need to go to a museum. I need to be fed even by bad pictures. I need my fix. But I can't define what it is."
125. John Humphrys - Q: Are you on adrenalin all the way through being on air on the Today programme? A: "Not all the way through, it's a three-hour programme and you can't be buzzing, buzzing, buzzing all the way through. Well, sometimes you can but it's fairly rare. No, you kind of hit your peak - one hopes you hit your peak - when the big interview comes along."
126. Grayson Perry - Q: What does art mean to you? A: "Oh crikey. We've only got five minutes. Art. What does it mean? It means craft plus ideas I suppose."
127. Tulisa - Q: How did you learn to sing? Did you learn to sing? A: "I didn't. I just used to sing and then one day realised it sounds better than some of the other people that sing, 'Oh, that's because I must be able to sing.'"
128. Matt Cardle - Q: What was it like taking part in X Factor? A: "It was brilliant fun, very scary at times but just one of the best experiences of my life."
129. Usher - Q: How do you feel your music has developed during your career? A: "I feel like it's gone up. Up and up and up and up."
Barack Obama ran the last lap of a 54-year marathon”
130. Konnie Huq - Do you still use skills that you picked up on Blue Peter? A: "I can make pancakes very quickly and very easily without measuring anything. So that's a pretty Blue Peter-ish skill, I think."
131. Sir Peter Hall - Q: Can you describe the joy, if it is a joy, of being a director? A: "Well the unjoy, deal with that first, being a director is not exactly hiding everything but being jolly careful what you show. When an actor is in trouble in rehearsal and really not getting there, it's no help to him to say 'You are dreadful you know?'. But there are directors in the world who do do that. To me the great thing about being a director is that you have the responsibility of leading them into areas of finding out what the work is about. Rehearsal is not practice, it's finding. It's different."
132. Hermione Norris - Q: How do you balance parenting with work? A: "I think for any parent balancing work and being a parent is hugely challenging and a constant juggle and the equilibrium tips to and fro. You do your best."
133. Lenny Henry - Q: Do you laugh at your own jokes? A: "Well, when we're writing, if you're laughing at your own jokes, they're the ones you end up using."
How happy/sad are you?
134. Carlo Ancelotti - Q: Do you let winning or losing affect your mood at home? A: "Obviously yes, but I try to keep my job outside of my private life."
Are you a happy fox these days?”
135. Rev Jesse Jackson - Q: When are you happiest now in your life? A: "I suppose to see the fruits of our labours, of our work. I cannot help but think about President Barack Obama being declared the winner - he really ran the last lap of a 54-year marathon."
136. Raymond Blanc - Q: Are you an optimist or a pessimist? A: "Complete raving mad optimist to the point of insanity. I believe in people, in all what is good in people. I believe in their creativity and I believe in their honesty. I believe in their sense of honour. I believe in all the goodness of people, and all what's exciting about life, and there's so many exciting things about life. No, I'm not a doomsday person."
137. Armando Iannucci - Q: What makes you sad Armando? A: "I don't really get sad, although I've noticed ever since I've had kids I notice I well up a bit more at sad things on telly that usually involves pain happening to people."
138. Gurinder Chadha - Q: Do you have fun directing? A: "I do. I love it. It comes naturally to me. I love being around lots of people, I love making my points in movies, I love the comedy aspect, I love the whole human side of movie-making, so I make very human movies and I want my audience to feel very human when they watch them. Universal movies."
139. Graeme Swann - Q: Is it fair to say that you rather enjoy life? A: "I do rather enjoy life, yeah. Life is good for me at the minute so why not enjoy it."
140. Basil Brush - Q: Are you a happy fox these days? A: "Oh, I'm always a happy fox. If I feel a bit down, I just tell myself a joke and that's it and I cheer myself up again."
141. Johnny Vaughan - Q: Do you regret going to prison? A: "Yes I regret it because it was a miserable time. But you know what, sometimes you have to look at where you're at, and everything that's led to where you're at, and they're all contributory factors."
Do you let winning or losing affect your mood at home?”
142. Carol Vorderman - Q: Do you miss Countdown? A: "I really miss the times with Richard [Whiteley]. But I don't miss anything else about it."
143. Lord Prescott - Q: Did you enjoy power? A: "I enjoyed doing things that I wanted to be seen done, and I was following very close to our manifesto. And sometimes they told me I couldn't do it, like the investigation into the Marchioness. They said, 'Oh that's 10 years ago. You can't open up that inquiry.' Yes you can. Get on with it! It's nice to be able to do that."
144. Moby - Q: What are you most proud of? A: "What's most gratifying, and I hope this doesn't sound disingenuous, is making music that people can have an emotional reaction to. Like the fact that I have made some pieces of music that have made people cry, or that people have listened to on their wedding day, like the fact that I've made music that people are willing to use at very intimate time in their lives. That's hands down what I'm most proud of."
145. Pixie Lott - Q: Are you sort of living your dreams now? A: "I guess when you put it like that I'm definitely doing what I love, so I do feel very grateful and lucky because I love performing, I love writing music and being a part of it all. So in a way, yeah."
146. Alistair McGowan - Q: Are you happy in 2009? A: "More than ever."
Influences and inspiration
I was always do one thing and then I was onto the next thing”
147. Jessica Ennis - Q: Where did you get the will to win from? A: "I think that it came from my parents, and how I was brought up and also part of just who I am. I've always wanted to achieve as much as I can, and I was always do one thing and then I was onto the next thing, and then the next, so the heptathlon was perfect for me."
148. Rufus Wainwright - Q: Your parents are both famous folk singers. Have you felt pressure in your life coming from a dynasty of musicians? A: "Not really. It happened so early in my life, as in the beginning, that I never knew anything else, so it was quite enjoyable and no harder than if my parents were firemen or something."
149. Ed Byrne - Q: In a nutshell, how did you become a comedian? A: "I didn't do it in a nutshell. It's very hard to perform comedy in a nutshell. Atmosphere is very important. I find theatres to be far better places to do it. I started off in comedy by running a comedy night in a pub I used to drink in in Glasgow."
150. AC Grayling - Q: How did you get into philosophy? A: "When I was very young, about 12, I had the great good fortune to take down a very easy, early dialogue of Plato's and read it. And I was tremendously struck by the fact that this famous pair of men, Plato and Socrates - who was his mouthpiece in the dialogue - dedicated their lives to thinking about these topics - justice and truth, knowledge, beauty, rightness, the nature of the state, how one should live - and I thought to myself 'Yes, that's exactly what we should all be doing.'"
151. Sanjeev Bhaskar - Q: You've done a lot of comedy work with the woman who's now your wife, Meera Syal. A: "Yes, she's actually influenced me more than any other person and I am legally obliged to say that."
152. Anish Kapoor - Q: Understanding who you are, understanding the you-ness in you, has been a big part of your life, hasn't it? You did psychoanalysis for 15 years, you underwent it? A: "Psychoanalysis as a process has always been very, very important to me. I find that here in the studio it is one of the tools that I use, necessarily, in order to take a thought process forward. I make abstract art but abstraction, if you like, has a propensity to meaning and it's the manipulation, if you like, of that will to meaning that I'm interested in, and that has some relation to psychoanalytical processes."
153. Louis Smith - Q: Tell me how you got into gymnastics in the first place? A: "I got into gymnastics at four-years-old. My brother, who is three years older than me, did it first. I just followed in his footsteps. I picked it up really quickly and then when I was about 14, I went to my first major international and then the rest was history. I just took off from there."
The name Tinie Tempah's basically my interpretation of ying and yang”
154. Ben Goldacre - Q: How did you become such a vocal critic of bad science as you see it? A: "I am merely a vehicle for the disgruntlement of a vast army of millions of nerds around the world."
155. Plan B - Q: What's the story behind the name Plan B? A: "I was a soul singer, a kinda R'n'B songwriter and then I kinda switched my style and started doing hip-hop. It was going from singing mushy, emotional love songs to talking about the stuff I did in the first album which I felt was social commentary on what was going on in my environment. It was more important than just singing a love song to a girl."
156. Tinie Tempah - Q: How did your name come about? A: "Tinie Tempah's basically my interpretation of ying and yang, so basically two opposites that shouldn't go together but just do really."
157. Bananarama - Q: How did you come up with the name Bananarama? A: "Our first single [Aie a Mwana] was sung in Swahili, we thought bananas sounded tropical, Roxy Music had a song called Pyjamarama, so we put the two together."
My early days
158. Philip Pullman - Q: Did you want to be an author when you were a child, when you were growing up? A: "I think I did. I always wanted to tell stories, and when I realised that the person who had their name on the front of the book got paid money as well, that was almost irresistible. So yeah, I think I always did."
I come from a small farming town in Michigan”
159. Nick Grimshaw - Q: Were you a personality growing up? A: "I definitely liked to show off as a child. I had older brothers and sisters, so I think I had to do impressions and dance routines and sing along to Only Fools and Horses to get in there and get attention from my mum and dad. So I think I always liked to show off and perform in front of the family, like any family event, any dinner party my mum had, I'd like sneak downstairs with a trumpet and liked to perform to the dinner party guests."
160. Tony Benn - Q: During World War II, you were part of Dad's Army? A: "I joined Dad's Army when I was 16. I was trained as a terrorist with a bayonet and a rifle and a grenade, and if the Germans arrived, I'd have thrown a grenade through the window. Then I was a pilot, but the war ended before I went on operations."
161. Caitlin Moran - Q: Why did you change your name from Catherine? A: "I was going through a phase of reading every single book in the library and I'd read all the ones that had sex in, and all the ones that were funny, and then I got around to the freaky ones. One of the freaky books was about numerology, which is where each of the letters in your name has a number and you add it all up and it tells you what your destiny is. The destiny of being Catherine-with-a-C Moran was quite poor, whereas once I'd worked out what the destiny of someone with the name Caitlin Moran was, it was great."
162. Hulk Hogan - Q: How did you come to cultivate your very famous look? A: "I didn't really have much choice with the bald head, that kind of happened naturally. I've always had long hair because I played music and played in a rock 'n' roll band before I ever got into wrestling. One of my girlfriends at high school dated this boy who was a surfer, and she used to always brag about his moustache. She was 'Oh I wish you would grow a moustache' so I grew a moustache for her right when I got out of high school and I've had it ever since."
If the Germans arrived, I'd have thrown a grenade through the window”
163. Amy Williams - Q: Did you dream about becoming an Olympic champion when you were a little girl? A: "I did. Probably not when I was quite so little-little but just from being sporty, doing running, athletics and you always dream about going to the Olympics. With every race that you do, you just want it to be the Olympic one."
164. Kelly Brook - Q: What did you want to be when you were growing up? A: "I always wanted to be a performer, I always wanted to be on the stage. Musical theatre was a passion of mine growing up."
165. William Hague - Q: Tell me about growing up in Yorkshire. What sort of childhood did you have? A: "A free one, really. My main memory of my childhood is roaming free in the fields and the woods even as a seven- or eight year-old with my friends and I think a lot of parents wouldn't now let their children do that, which is very sad."
166. Dita Von Teese - Q: What sort of background do you come from? A: "I come from a small farming town in Michigan, a middle-class family."
167. Martin Amis - Q: Did you always want to be an author from a young age? A: "My theory about that is that everyone wants to be a writer. Around the age of 12, 13, when you start writing poems and keeping notebooks and diaries you start this thing of communing with yourself. It's as if a voice has woken up inside you. My theory is that the writers are just the ones who never grew out of that. Most other people moved on and put that aside, but the writers don't."
168. Diane Abbott - Q: How do you look back at your time at Cambridge University? A: "They were the making of me, for better or worse. I met lots of people like you and it taught me to stand up for myself."
169. Leslie Phillips - Q: You come from a relatively poor and in some ways underprivileged background? A: "Yes, my father died when I was young and that was the only reason we were up against it, because there was not help from anyone in those days. You couldn't get help like you can now."
There are tapes of me singing really daft songs and you can hear my mum in the background getting annoyed”
170. Emma Bunton - Q: What sort of childhood did you have? A: "I had a wonderful childhood actually. Lots of love and affection. We didn't have lots of money but spoilt to bits with love."
171. Dan Snow - Q: Let's talk history. Where did you get your passion for it? A: "I was very lucky, I grew up in an incredible family with a great oral history-telling tradition. My grandmother, my Welsh Nain as they say in Wales, used to tell these amazing stories about our family history, about David Lloyd George, about the past, about what my grandpa had done in the war. So it was always very alive for me, it was very, very vivid. And then my dad was obviously obsessed with history and every weekend we'd go out to castles and National Trust houses and look around, so it was always a hugely exciting part of my life."
172. Tom Chaplin - Q: What did you think you would be when you were growing up? A: "I always wanted to do what I do now. Right from the age of four or five there are tapes of me that I've still got at home singing really daft songs and you can hear my mum in the background getting more and more annoyed. But I think I always had that sort of itch to want to be on stage, to be performing, and I think I've always found that I express myself best through singing."
173. Ross Kemp - Q: What did you want to be when you were growing up? A: "I wanted to be an actor but never really accomplished that."
Life in the spotlight
174. Sir Tom Jones - Q: Do you enjoy the fame? A: "Yes, because it allows me to do what I want, which first of all is singing and then secondly is to travel."
Can it be hard being a celebrity in India and the UK?”
175. Rory Bremner - Q: What would you like your epitaph to be? A: "Rory who?"
176. Norah Jones - Q: Where do you keep your Grammies? A: "They're in my closet. For the time being."
177. Rupert Penry-Jones - Q: When you walk down the street, do people come up to you the whole time? A: "Not the whole time, but people do approach me and say hello and that always gives me a little spring in my step. It's not become debilitating, the fame I've experienced, so it actually makes you feel good about yourself as well."
178. Rob Brydon - Q: You've sort of had, I suppose, a number one. A: "Woah, woah - what's this 'sort of have had a number one'? Have you had a number one? Have you sort of had a number one? No, you haven't had a number one. I have had a number one."
179. Shilpa Shetty - Q: Can it be hard being a celebrity in India and the UK - are there different cultural expectations of you? A: "It can be - you know it's kind of strange, in India people are a little subtle, they don't want to know so much. In Britain, people want to know it all."
180. Jackie Collins - Q: I know you've written about it, but what's it actually like living in Hollywood? A: "It's very exciting and it's great for the research for my books."
181. Christopher Eccleston - Q: Do you read your own press? A: "Yes, I have read my own press and I've suffered for it."
182. Will Young - Q: How much does winning awards mean to you? Does it matter? A: "It does, it does… well, I always say it matters. Once you get it, you're like 'Oh thank God, I got it' but if you don't get it you say it doesn't matter. That's the way I think about awards."
183. Sophie Ellis-Bextor - Q: What happens when one of your songs comes on the radio, what do you think? A: "I usually think it's nice they're playing Groovejet, can they please play my new single."
184. Benjamin Zephaniah - Q: What was it like becoming famous, becoming well-known? A: "One of the great things for me was meeting people who I only saw on television. But then I met a lot of them and sometimes I was let down. The great thing for me is being able to travel and really connect with people. As a poet, you don't want to be too famous because you want to blend in the background when you go to parties and things like that. So I don't want to be too famous so go easy on this programme that you're making about me."
I've heard you described, maybe it was even you describe yourself, as the invisible star”
185. Jake Shears - Q: You're not into red carpets, is this true? A: "I hate red carpets. I think red carpets are really embarrassing. I don't like stepping out on them, and there's this assumption when you're there that people either know who you are, or care who you are. It puts it on you, as if you expect people to know who you are or care who you are."
186. Charlotte Green - Q: Do you ever get recognised? A: "I have been recognised. I went into a watch repair shop to pick up my watch, and the man had been repairing the watch - and indeed clocks and all sorts of other things - and he sat there all day listening to Radio 4. Before I identified myself, he said 'I know who you are, you're Charlotte Green' which was astounding."
187. Jason Isaacs - Q: Now I've heard you described, maybe it was even you describe yourself, as the invisible star. You've appeared in so many films and a lot of theatre as well… A: "I've never said that, but I don't mind that title. That's fine because I'm quite happy being other people for a living and then being myself in life and having nobody notice me."
188. Jodie Kidd - Q: Did it give you a huge buzz seeing yourself on massive billboards around the world? A: "It was very, very strange. I remember for the first time going into Times Square and I was modelling a perfume campaign and I saw my face up there and I just went 'That's very weird' - but I mean amazing, the most incredible thing, not many people can say that, can they, so I feel very lucky."
Food glorious food
189. Jamie Oliver - Q: How would you describe your style of cooking, or does it change? A: "I think free-spirited, attitude, rustic."
190. Nigella Lawson - Q: Do you ever eat in bed? A: "Nearly always, I'm afraid to say. Nearly always. My, it's a disgusting mess - blankets splodged with soy sauce."
191. Michael Portillo - Q: What do you eat for breakfast? A: "Fruit."
192. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall - Q: What is the difference between a chef and a cook? A: "Not an easy distinction. I used to be a chef and I got fired, and ever since then I guess I've been a cook."
193. Jane Horrocks - Q: What's your most prized possession? A: "My diary."
Tell me three things that you like”
194. Keith Allen - Q: Do you have a favourite author? A: "Yeah, JG Ballard."
195. Nicola Benedetti - Q: Who is your favourite composer? A: "Beethoven."
196. Myleene Klass - Q: Favourite composer or composers? A: "Oh my goodness, Mozart every single time. Every time."
197. Melvyn Bragg- Q: A favourite painter? A: "Rembrandt."
198. Emilia Fox - Q: Tell me three things that you like. A: "Reading, gardening and butterflies."
199. Lord Winston - Q: Who of the great composers is your number one? A: "Schubert I think, perhaps because Schubert's work is very extraordinary. Not least because two-thirds of it wasn't published in his lifetime. It seems amazing."
200. Gary Lineker - Q: Who was the best player you ever played against? A: "The best player I ever played against and have seen is, unquestionably, Diego Maradona."