Comedienne Ronni Ancona

150 150 Rob McGibbon

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Published: 10 December 2011

Comedienne Ronni Ancona:

The prized possession you value above all others...A ballet shoe worn by Anna Pavlova. It was given to my great-grandmother three years after Anna died in 1931, by Anna’s husband Victor Dandré. My mum gave it to me and I will hand it on to my daughters.

The unqualified regret you wish you could amend...I hardly know where to start! But I wish I could play an instrument well, especially piano or guitar.

The way you would spend your fantasy 24 hours, with no travel restrictions...I’d have breakfast with my husband Gerard, looking at Mount Etna from Taormina in southern Italy. Then we’d go to the Marquesas Islands in the South Pacific with our children – Lily, six, and Elsa, three. I’d watch the wildlife at the Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania, then have dinner in Manhattan. I’d do a sketch on Saturday Night Live, then zip home to London.

The temptation you wish you could resist...Champagne. Any brand will do – I’m too chavvy to care.

The book that holds an everlasting resonance...Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert. It is beautifully written and the characters reach across time.

The priority activity if you were the Invisible Woman for a day...I’d hitch a ride on a rocket to the Moon.

The life of another with whom you would gladly trade places...Aretha Franklin. To be able to sing with that degree of power is the ultimate skill.

The film you can watch time and time again...All About Eve is magnificent. The screenplay is sharp and witty and the performances are exemplary, especially Bette Davis, who’s on top form.

The person who has influenced you most...Dustin Hoffman, who’s been my hero since I was about eight. I was an oddball as a kid, and when I saw him in Little Big Man I related to him, as he was so vulnerable and off-beat.

The figure from history for whom you’d most like to buy a pie and a pint...Eleanor of Aquitaine, who was queen consort of both France and England in the 12th century. She had an extraordinary life, so I’d love a good natter with her.

The piece of wisdom you would pass on to a child...It’s what’s inside that counts. My daughters are bombarded with images of gorgeous women on TV, so I want them to know that kindness shines out, regardless of how people look.

The unlikely interest that engages your curiosity...Elephants fascinate me; they look as if they belong to another world. I’ve been collecting little figures of elephants since I was a child and I have about 70 now.

The treasured item you lost and wish you could have again...My peace of mind. Having kids makes you worry more, but makes you less self-centred.

The unending quest that drives you on...To be the best I can be. I’m quite tough on myself and always fear I don’t come up to the mark.

The poem that touches your soul...The Stolen Child by WB Yeats has a deep personal resonance. My baby son Seth was stillborn in 2006 and I read the poem at his funeral. When you suffer a loss of that magnitude you like to think they are a little angel somewhere. The essence of the poem is that fairies exist and they protect children from the ills of the world.

The misapprehension about yourself you wish you could erase...That I’m just an impressionist. I’m an actress and comedienne who also does silly voices!

The event that altered the course of your life and character...Winning the Time Out Hackney Empire New Act of the Year award in 1993 allowed me to go into comedy professionally.

The crime you would commit knowing you could get away with it...I am appalled at the money footballers and bankers earn, so I’d find a way to give their wealth to people who need it.

The song that means most to you...Born Free. I named Elsa after the lion cub from the film. It’s a wonderful ode to doing your own thing in life. I want that for both my girls.

The happiest moment you will cherish forever...My wedding day at the Oliver Messel suite at the Dorchester hotel in Mayfair. I never thought I’d get married so it was all a nice shock.

The saddest time that shook your world...Losing my little baby boy broke my heart.

The unfulfilled ambition that continues to haunt you...To deliver a great comedic performance, full of pathos, in a film that would make people laugh and cry. It’s a pipe dream because Hollywood has no end of kooky, young, beautiful actresses.

The philosophy that underpins your life...Success through chaos.

The order of service at your funeral...I’d lay on some champagne and have a bit of a circus – sad and funny. I suppose it would be a good time for Alistair McGowan to do his terrible impression of me. He does this hideously squawking Scottish accent with his arm flapping up and down.

The way you want to be remembered...As a woman who wasn’t all there – but wanted to be!

The Plug...I’m supporting the Kleenex Balsam Coldline, by offering soothing words of sympathy in the voices of some of Britain’s biggest celebrities. To listen, call free on: 0808 265 3358.