QUICKFIRE: Jim Carter on magic, the Maldives and the singer who left him speechless

Actor Jim Carter opens up about his biggest bugbear, earliest memory, and the secret to his happy relationship with wife Imelda Staunton.

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Guilty pleasure? Eating cold baked beans straight from the tin.
Where is home? An Edwardian semi in West Hampstead, London.
Career plan B? I could have made a living as a magician.
Who would play you in a movie of your life? My wife Imelda Staunton. She has done all the research and is ready to go.
Biggest bugbear? Unnecessary music in public places.
Earliest memory? Watching the Queen’s Coronation on television at my great-uncle Jim’s house
when I was four.
Secret to a happy relationship? A sense of humour and mutual respect.
Your best quality? Once I’m committed to something, I see it through.
And your worst? Procrastination – I’m terrible for putting things off.
Most romantic thing you’ve ever done? That’s something to ask Imelda, but I’m good at romantic gestures.
Last meal on earth? Shepherd’s pie, peas and carrots, followed by apple and blackberry crumble with ice cream.
Dream dinner-party guests? Eight friends, a fantastic cook and someone to do the washing-up.
Advice to your teenage self? Listen more and don’t be so quick to jump in with your own thoughts.
Cat or dog? We have an 11-year-old rescue dog, Molly, a cairn terrier cross.
What do you see when you look in the mirror? Hair sprouting everywhere, not just on my head.
On a day off we’d find you… If it’s sunny, pottering in the garden with Imelda.
Starstruck moment? Me and a mate somehow blagged our way into the aftershow party for a Tina Turner gig in New York in 1975. I was the first person she spoke to when she came in – she just said ‘Hi!’ – but I couldn’t speak and burbled something like, ‘Urgh.’
Big break? Being offered£5 a week to join the Brighton Combination arts lab in 1970, which set me on the path to becoming an actor.
Career highlight? In terms of success, playing Carson in Downton Abbey. But in terms of happiness, it was a production of Guys and Dolls at the National Theatre in 1982. Not only was it a magical show, it was where I met Imelda.
Favourite tipple? My mate Greg Wise does a blinding bloody mary.
Hangover cure? Knowing when to stop drinking.
Top of your bucket list? To be at Sydney Cricket Ground when the England captain lifts the Ashes.
Secret skill? Mental arithmetic.
One thing that would make your life better? Three months of guaranteed sunshine every summer.
Philosophy? Keep moving forward.
Last film that made you cry? Pride, a really heartfelt film that Imelda was in.
First record you bought? ‘Living Doll’ by Cliff Richard.
Most extravagant purchase? A two-week holiday in the Maldives in January. It was eye-wateringly expensive, but worth every penny.
Best present you ever received? My wedding ring.
Biggest fear? Heights.
Celebrity crush? Tina Turner, of course!
Happiness is… Sunshine, a good book and an empty day ahead.

Jim is supporting Marie Curie’s Blooming Great Tea Party fundraising appeal to encourage people to hold tea parties next month for friends, family and colleagues and collect donations for the charity. Details at mariecurie.org.uk/MoS