Julian Clary, star of Strictly Come Dancing, has written his memoirs, charting his sexuality and ascent to fame, then fall from grace with a risque joke about Norman Lamont. Emma Pinch gets the lowdown...

Your book is quite graphic in parts. Did you have to forewarn your parents?

It was difficult to write a book like mine for your parents to read. They are fine about it but a bit taken aback because I haven't been a saint all my life.

You've been at the top and out in the cold. What's the lowest point so far?

The period of depression around the time of the Norman Lamont Comedy Awards. It was like a delayed bereavement and everything seemed to conspire to go wrong in my life for a year or so.

I was taking sedatives all day, valium and sleeping tablets at night and your judgement goes when you are drugged up. Writing was very therapeutic and if you analyse your life you can see what various motivations there are at different times.

Strictly Come Dancing propelled you back into primetime. What was it like behind the scenes?

I loved that series. I thought it was a brilliant show, very entertaining and it did me a lot of good. I didn't expect any of that success, I thought I would only be in it for a couple of weeks. It's one of the things you're glad you said yes to. I do ballroom dancing once a week now.

Do you ever feel like breaking away from the make-up and the act?

It's what I do. It's a compulsion and I like my life. Variety is the key. Doing camp comedy endlessly would get tedious.

Who is your ideal date?

Ethan Hawke. He's quite chiselled.

Which woman do you have a soft spot for?

Natasha Kaplinsky. She's great value. I like her, she's got a bit of charisma that comes across on TV and in real life.

Where is the strangest place you've been recognised?

It's always strange being recognised abroad. You forget you're famous when you are away. It happened on a beach resort in Nicaragua recently, and it was very strange.

What's the weirdest fan mail you've been sent?

A very peculiar portrait of me that resembles an aboriginal woman. That's still in my cupboard.

What's your worst job been?

I was a washer-upper in a restaurant as a student and the washer-upper from the previous shift hadn't turned up. There was no hot water and no plug. I just put my coat on and walked out the door.

What's the naughtiest act of revenge you've taken?

I'm not very vengeful but I've included in the book some nasty letters people sent me. People have to be responsible for their actions and so I published them. It was a sort of revenge and it was a sweet one.

How would you spend your ideal day?

It would be fairly domestic, just pottering about at home doing housework and walking the dog and seeing my friends.

What's the first thing you would do as Prime Minister?

I would give people in Birmingham more parks. I did panto in Birmingham and really warmed to the city but there's hardly a blade of grass in the centre.

What would your epitaph be?

That I fulfilled my job description, I made people laugh.