It may not seem so from her part of the upfront mum in the hit TV sitcom My Family, but actress Zoe Wanamaker does not court publicity.

It took the personal invitation from children at her local primary school to persuade her to open their new extension on Monday.

Miss Wanamaker, 58, who lives in the Pewsey Vale, prides herself on being able to walk round Waitrose in Marlborough without being badgered for autographs or photographs.

She sees herself more as a jobbing actor than a celebrity, so cutting the ribbon to officially inaugurate Pewsey Primary School's new £100,000 extension was quite a departure for her.

"This is the very first time I've wielded the scissors," she joked.

Later she described how she had been coaxed. "It was the children, of course," she said. "They wrote me this wonderful letter. How could I refuse them?"

After being shown round the school by headteacher Matthew Nightingale, Miss Wanamaker agreed to answer questions from the Year 5/6 class who had invited her to the opening.

Asked what is was like being an actor, she said that many actors spend a lot of time out of work so it is important to have a skill you can use to earn a living wage in some other way.

Most of the questions revolved around her performance as Madam Hooch, the quidditch teacher in the Harry Potter films.

She said: "It was so funny. We were shooting our scenes at Alnwick Castle in Northumbria.

"I walked out onto the lawn where the scene was being shot and there were 24 children, all holding broomsticks!"

The premiere for the first Harry Potter film, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, was an exciting though scary experience, she said.

"There were so many people screaming, it really was quite frightening."

After the question-and-answer session, Miss Wanamaker was invited into the school hall to listen to pupils' songs.