Your new novel is loosely based on a letter you received from a man claiming to be your great-uncle?
Yes, he wrote: “This might come as a shock but your grandmother was my mother.”
He sent me copies of lovely letters she had sent to his foster family when he was little, and photos of him on the beach with her when he was a toddler.
I recognised her and I recognised her writing. Then I told my mother what had happened and she wasn’t surprised at all.
When her mother was dying, she had told her she’d been a wicked woman and had done some wicked things.
The book was delayed due to the deaths of your parents?
It has been difficult. I don’t think I’ve properly grieved for my parents. They still feel so very present.
I dream about them and talk to them and run things past them. They seem to be with me all the time.
How has your divorce to TV chef Phil Vickery affected you?
I’m a tough cookie. This is life and I have had two very good marriages.
It’s just unfortunate they came to an end. Phil and I knew – we’d had a very good time but it was the end.
I really worked on remembering all the good stuff, and the negatives are much smaller and do start to vanish.
My marriage ended on as good terms as you can in that situation.
You made your stage debut in Calendar Girls. Any other new challenges you’d like to try?
I’m open to everything. I can look back on the 40 years of TV I did and wrap it up in a nice body of work and think, do you know what – I did some very good stuff I can be proud of. But I never say never to other things.
Did turning 60 two years ago change your outlook on life?
I want to live a less frantic life, which is happening now.
I’m going to make time to do things I’ve always wanted to do, whether it’s travelling, or a book I want to read, or the play I want to see.
I don’t have to worry about anybody saying, “What do you want to do that for?” Not that Phil ever did, but I can just go and close the door and no one’s going to ask me where I’m going.
How will living on your own feel after lockdown ends, once your girls have moved out?
I’m going to quite enjoy having my own space. I don’t worry about getting lonely.
I like my own company. I’ve never really been a lonely person.
Daughters Of Cornwall by Fern Britton is out now from HarperCollins.
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