Cat Deeley: ‘Closest I’ve come to death? A run-in with paparazzi while on horseback’

Born in the West Midlands, Cat Deeley, 44, began presenting the children’s show SMTV Live in 1998, winning a Bafta in 2001. Since 2006 she has hosted the US reality television show So You Think You Can Dance. This month she launches a capsule clothing collection with Winser London. She is married to comedian and TV presenter Patrick Kielty, with whom she has two sons, and lives in London.

Which living person do you most admire, and why?
Michelle Obama. Her girls were massive fans of So You Think You Can Dance and we were invited to the White House for the Easter egg hunt. She was even more brilliant than you imagine, and we bonded over a love of Beyoncé.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
Insomnia.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Half-heartedness.

What was your most embarrassing moment?
When I was hosting Stars In Their Eyes, in a dress rehearsal. I had to come up a steep ramp in a pair of heels, and there was so much dry ice I couldn’t see anything. I ran into the doors instead of through them. With the show due to start in 20 minutes, they had to patch up my bleeding nose with powder so the blood would coagulate.

Aside from a property, what’s the most expensive thing you’ve bought?
Art. I recently bought a Sean Scully painting, I have a Damien Hirst, a Tracey Emin, a Polly Morgan snake and a couple of Jonathan Yeos.

What do you most dislike about your appearance?
I am pretty happy with it: I don’t mind my slightly bent nose, my big jaw, or my massive feet – they make me a good swimmer.

If you could bring something extinct back to life, what would you choose?
The northern white rhino. When I heard that the last male had died, I stood in my kitchen and cried.

What is your most unappealing habit?
Picking – anything, whether it’s my nose, Paddy’s back…

What did you want to be when you were growing up?
Julie Andrews.

What is top of your bucket list?
Swim with whale sharks in Mexico with my sons Milo and James.

To whom would you most like to say sorry, and why?
To anyone I have lost touch with. It happened purely by accident as life took over.

What does love feel like?
Heart explosion.

Have you ever said ‘I love you’ and not meant it?
No, because it takes an awful lot for me to say it.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?
Just Elvis.

How often do you have sex?
Probably not enough.

What is the closest you’ve come to death?
Horse riding in a steep canyon in Los Angeles. A couple of paparazzi had hidden under camouflage blankets and when a horse sees a lens, he thinks it’s the eye of a predator. My horse flipped out. When he landed, I ended up on his neck; that was pretty close.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
Nothing is as good or as bad as you think it is.