She’s one of Britain’s sexiest stars, who is rarely seen on TV with a hair out of place.
But in real life, actress and mum Keeley Hawes admits her life is a world away from her glamorous on-screen persona.
And the one person who’s not afraid to tell her when she’s looking far from glam is her actor husband Matthew Macfadyen.
Keeley says: “The other day I took the kids to school and just as I was leaving the house Matthew said: “Are you going out like that?”
“I said yes and he said: “You look like you’re going in for an operation at hospital.
“I suddenly realised I looked appalling and I frantically started brushing my hair.
“Sometimes I think I’ll be caught out. I’m certainly not Claudia Schiffer on the school run if that’s what you are thinking. Quite the opposite.”
Today Keeley, 35, is treading the boards for the first time in 25 years in London’s West End.
She is also the face of Boots No.7 cosmetics as well as a devoted mum to 11-year-old Myles, from her marriage to cartoonist Spencer McCallum, and Maggie, seven and five-year-old Ralph, from her union with Matthew, 36.
And her hectic schedule means there’s not much time for lengthy beauty rituals.
“My beauty regime is simple – I always take my make-up off before bed these days,” she said.
“And I always put moisturiser on and that’s about it. A bit of soap maybe. In the adverts I look like I do because 150 people have spent seven hours making me look dazzling. That’s not me at all.”
Her face bears no trace of Botox or fillers – and she is resolute in her intention to grow old gracefully.
“I intend to age naturally. I don’t want things injected in my face. My face fully moves. I was trying on a wig at the National last week and I was making the wig move by raising my eyebrows and the woman said to me: “You’ve got a very mobile forehead.” I couldn’t stop laughing.
“All these women getting older and starting to morph into the same person. I mean, each to their own.
“But I think I just want to grow old. I have seen Botox go wrong and it’s frightening.”
Standing at a statesque 5ft 10in Keeley, 35, is also refreshingly happy with her womanly curves.
Sickeningly, she never uses the gym. “What a waste of time and I have three kids to think about,” she states, matter-of-factly.
Nor is she a slave to diets. After each of children she says she snapped right back into shape with ease.
Keeley, who married her Spooks co-star Matthew in 2004, asked him if she should lose some weight recently – and received the sort of response only a husband could (just) get away with.
“I said to Matthew the other day: “Do you think I could be thinner?”,” she revealed.
“I guess I was fishing for a big compliment where he would say I was perfect and he replied: “Well everyone could be a little bit thinner.” That really wasn’t the right answer.”
It’s clear though that she is blissfully happy – and enjoying the hum-drum of “normal” married life, revolving around school runs… and even a KNITTING circle.
“As far as having three children and being married and going to work is concerned it’s as normal as it can be,” she says.
“We’re not particularly show-bizzy as a couple so you won’t see us at many events. We hide and do normal things with the kids.
“I’ve never tumbled out of cars drunk in public. Behind closed doors, fine – I can tumble. But in public? That’s not very dignified is it?
“I’m much more a person to stay at home with a glass of red. Also when you have children at school it’s a bit embarrassing, isn’t it? I wouldn’t want to be doing that.
“One of the mums at school has a knitting circle which I’ve joined. What’s happened to me? There’s such a nice wool shop near my house. They make flapjacks for you too and have coffee morning on a Sunday. So you get the picture.”
But, she admits, she’s not entirely domesticated.
“I don’t cook at home,” she said.
“Matthew cooks everything. When he goes off working is when I lose weight because dinner turns into a slice of cheese. I’m useless.”
Keeley’s currently combining acting as an Ambassador for Kenco Millicano coffee with her return to treading the boards, playing tough Jewish wife Belle Stark in new play Rocket to the Moon.
After receiving some harsh criticism for her role in Ashes to Ashes she admits getting less than rave reviews is tough – but she’s relishing the challenge.
“It’s a healthy thing to get some bad criticism,” she said.
“I’m still here and I’m fine but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t get to you reading negative stuff.
“I guess for the past ten years I’ve been in series television for most of the time.
“Before this role I’d not done anything on the stage for a good 25 years.
“Just standing on stage and getting the line out was one of the best things I’ve ever done. I cried afterwards – it was that scary. It was a fantastic thing for me to do. I was like Marmite on Ashes with some people not liking me at all so I was scared of the critics.”
She is also looking forward to returning to her critically acclaimed role as Lady Agnes Holland in Upstairs Downstairs in October – admitting the fabulous clothes are also a perk.
“They are so forgiving – I can’t even begin to tell you,” she laughs. “I love a bit of fur too. I know it’s wrong…but in those days it wasn’t wrong, it was right. “That’s my excuse anyway.
“The dresses are all about the underwear. If you get a good foundation underneath the dress then you’re good to go. Everything is better with a good foundation.”
Keeley claims she’s not in the slightest bit ambitious these days – saying she’s just a girl that got lucky.
“I’ve been ambitious in the past. But not now. I have a family and I’m content. If I was ambitious in my career then I would have moved to the States and given it a good go at films. I had a child at 24 and I’ve built that kind of life. I don’t want to go and drag the children to LA and strive for it. Matthew’s just done this huge Musketeers film but that wasn’t shot in LA. You can have a film career these days without having to up sticks. I love it where I live and I love my quiet life. We’re not the Beckhams, are we?”