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Just for laughs: David Mitchell

David Mitchell: 'When I was on my own things being probably fine was good enough, but when you've got a child, suddenly things have to be definitely fine ... and that's scary' 

As the posh team captain on TV panel show Would I Lie To You?, David Mitchell's only worry is getting away with telling a few porkies to quickfire opponent Lee Mack. But away from the spotlight, Mitchell admits that having a family of his own - he's married to TV presenter, writer and professional poker player Victoria Coren Mitchell, with whom he has a four-year-old daughter, Barbara - has increased his fears for the future.

Paul Charles

How Northern Ireland music agent Paul Charles managed his first group at 15 and went on to work with Van Morrison... before forging a successful career as a crime novelist 

Paul Charles managed his first group when he was just a 15-year-old living in Magherafelt and used the number of his local telephone box for his business cards. He didn't know it then, but it would lead to a glittering career as a music agent looking after the likes of Van Morrison, The Undertones and Ray Davies from The Kinks among others.

No control: A scene from TV's The Handmaid’s Tale

The end is nigh? What our future looks like ... according to dystopian fiction 

Nineteen Eighty-Four - George Orwell (1948) . The classic piece of dystopian fiction, Nineteen Eighty-Four has become a watchword for the all-powerful, omniscient surveillance state envisaged as Airstrip One by Orwell in the years after the Second World War. Its ever-present leader, Big Brother, gave his name to a voyeuristic TV show where the masses watched disparate individuals incarcerated together and only released at the whim of the public who tuned in to watch them every day. That sounds like something from the novel, but obviously it's real life.

Novel number 19: Adele Parks

'I've seen the effects IVF can have, it can be fantastic and exciting but I've also seen the heartbreak... some people don't get the result they long for' 

Once branded one of the chick-lit brigade, Adele Parks is much happier to be sitting firmly in the domestic noir section of book stores these days. The chatty Teesside novelist, who's had a string of international bestsellers, averaging a book a year since her first novel, Playing Away, was published 19 years ago, has long insisted her work should not be branded pink and fluffy.

Elizabeth Gilbert at Brooks Hotel

Elizabeth Gilbert: I thought that grief would look a certain way. Just a lot of weeping and loneliness. To my surprise I was in a blaze of rage for months 

In 2006, Elizabeth Gilbert wrote a book that sold more than 12 million copies, became a movie starring Julia Roberts, and led to Time magazine naming Gilbert one of the 100 most influential people in the world. That book, Eat Pray Love, tells the story of Elizabeth's brutal depression and divorce, and subsequent personal odyssey through Italy, India and Indonesia, where she ate, prayed and eventually loved her way back to happiness. The story ended with her meeting the man who would eventually become her second husband.

Amiable author: David Nicholls

David Nicholls: I'm not buying sports cars or any of those cliches, I'm not having a mid-life crisis ... the danger is you become backward-looking and I don't want to do that 

He's achieved massive success with his bestselling novels, including One Day and Us, and is also in huge demand for his screenwriting skills. Yet, David Nicholls admits he is constantly anxious. Meeting the amiable author, who is softly spoken and naturally quite shy, you get the impression that he's more comfortable putting his heartfelt emotions, humour and nostalgic thoughts down on paper than saying them in person.

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