Learning Curve 

Actress, singer and TV presenter TOYAH WILLCOX, 44, was recently seen in I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here! and is the voice that introduces the Teletubbies. She lives with her husband Robert Fripp in Worcester. She tells Yvonne Swann... 

What I wish I'd known at 21 

'In my 20s, as soon as a big cheque came in, I'd keep spending until that money was gone. Such behaviour fills me with horror today. Now, 40 per cent of my earnings goes to a tax account, 30 per cent is invested, 20 per cent goes into pensions and I live on 10 per cent. I feel much more secure. 

'I wish I'd had more boyfriends when I was younger. I didn't live the rock 'n' roll lifestyle at all. I think relationships help you deal with your negative side - I was always very possessive and jealous. I wish I'd learned earlier that relationships are not a form of entrapment. 

'No matter how successful you are, life is not worth living if you don't have great friends. I value the art of conversation now in a way I never used to. When I was in my 20s, I was quite narrow-minded. Now, I can't get enough of other people's opinions. 

'I'm not as reactionary as I used to be. When I was 21, I was very defensive, and would take things personally. That was because I lacked confidence. Now, I have the ability to ignore things that would previously have wound me up. I have also learned that criticism can be valuable it it is constructive. It allows you to move on and break away from your old self. 

'I am still a very contradictory person. I love having a beautiful home and garden, but I hate being stuck there for long. I've learned that I need to travel and I need to perform constantly, and then I can go home for a short while and enjoy it. 

'I live very near my parents, and my husband and I see a lot of them. But it's taken a long time to make them understand that, even though we need complete freedom, we still love them. 

'I was a yo-yo dieter for years, but I have found that the simplest way to keep fit is to exercise. I've given up alcohol, tea and coffee, I avoide dairy foods, eat fewer carbohydrates and never eat late at night, but best of all is a fast walk, aerobics, or the kind of wild workout I get on stage. 

'As you get older you let go of your biggest dreams. I've let go of an awful lot. I always wanted to be a Hollywood film star and sing in stadiums in America. I've done neither. I've learned to be happy with what I've got and to really honour and respect it. And what I've got is fabulous. I have my parents, a wonderful husband and I work. What could be better?'

Daily Mail, 2003