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SHOWBIZ PEOPLE: DEBRA STEPHENSON; my favourite things; Actress Debra Stephenson, 28, is back on our TV screens as a bisexual bully in the prison drama Bad Girls. It's a role far removed from the real Debra, who tells AMANDA SHRIMSLEY that white roses, horses and a shabby, pink teddy bear are just a few of her favourite things...

Byline: AMANDA SHRIMSLEY

WHITE ROSES

Although I've lived in London for years, I'm very proud to be a Yorkshire lass, brought up in Hull. That's why white roses - the emblem of my county - will always be my favourite flower.

I had loads of them at my wedding two years ago and I love to have them around the house. They smell and look so beautiful. But you should never mix white and red roses. It's very unlucky. They symbolise a clash. Red roses are for Lancashire - Yorkshire's old enemy from the War of the Roses.

BRUSH STROKES

My dream is to start painting beaches and industrial landscapes. For me, painting is very therapeutic and I long to take it up as a hobby when I have some spare time.

I did art A-level at school and began a foundation art course, which I left to go to drama school in Manchester. I wouldn't say that I'm very good, but I get my paints out every now and then. My favourite artist is Edward Munch, who painted The Scream. I adore his heavy brushwork style. I love vital colours. I'm not really into watercolours or pastels.

CHECK BAG

I bought this classic check bag together with a matching scarf at an airport last summer. I didn't go too mad because I think masses of designer accessories can look flashy. I love it because it's smart, very tasteful - and just so English!

BLUE PETER BADGE

Did you know that if you take your Blue Peter badge along to museums, you can often get in free? I've used mine a couple of times and couldn't believe it when it worked!

I went on the programme in 1987 when Caron Keating, Janet Ellis and Mark Curry were the presenters. I'd just won, Bob Says Opportunity Knocks, for doing my Margaret Thatcher impressions and they invited me to do them on Blue Peter.

My badge is special to me because I'm still a big Blue Peter fan.

A BIT OF TAT

I know this really is a bit of tat, but it's very important to me. I keep it on my dressing table, which is very embarrassing because it's so naff. I keep saying I'll put it away somewhere - but it has real history.

My friend Oriana was married in a beautiful village church near Barcelona. She was one of the first of my friends to marry and it was such a wonderful day. It's Spanish tradition to give the ornament on the top of the cake to the couple who will be next to marry. So I got it.

It makes me think of beautiful days and a dear friend - but it also reminds me I am a bit of a hoarder. As long as I keep things like this, my home will never be the way I'd like it to be - beautiful and minimal.

MY PINK TEDDY

I've adored my pink teddy since I was little. He's been cuddled so much that he looks dirty - even though he's just come out of the washing machine. He's always been there in my life. But now he's so shabby that every time I look at him I feel sorry for him. I had loads of dollies and teddies as a child. I'd give them little tea parties. But Teddy, now aged 26, is the only one I brought to London with me. The rest are in my parents' attic because it's just not me to have lots of cuddly toys on the bed. In a fire, Teddy and my photos are the things I'd save first. I hope my husband, James, would save me!

A BIG BREAKFAST TEAPOT

If I could, I'd drink at least 15 cups of tea a day. Good, strong, builders' tea is my biggest weakness. It's so comforting. But I do try to avoid too much caffeine. This teapot was presented to me when I went on the Big Breakfast show to talk about Bad Girls and I use it a lot. As an actress it's easy to take little gifts like this for granted, but I don't because I know a lot of my friends would love it.

PARK AND RIDE

Although I was never a real horsey-type, I love horses and did some riding as a child. My old dream of one day having my own horse and country house came back while I filmed Catherine Cookson's A Dinner Of Herbs in the North East last year.

I did a lot of riding then and really got the taste again. Being back on a horse in such wonderful countryside was just exhilarating.

I'd love to go riding in Richmond Park, near where we live on the edge of London. But my work means it's hard to get insurance. If I broke an arm or something, there would be real problems!

MY TARTAN MUG

For some reason, I've always had an affinity with Scotland and Scottish people. They're very special and romantic to me. My husband, James Duffield, who I first met in a pub in 1993, is a Glaswegian. And my parents were married in Edinburgh.

James is entitled to wear the blue and green Ancient McPherson plaid and wore a kilt for our wedding in London. Maybe that's why I'm so keen on buying tartan things - and this mug also just happens to be great for my tea.

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PICTURES: IAN DERRY
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:Mar 18, 2001
Words:905
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