Denby Imperial Blue Teapot, 1L
My Day, My Way
The interview that goes beyond an Instagram stalk of the stars… we catch up with the queen of the kitchen disco
Podcaster and singer-songwriter extraordinaire Sophie Ellis-Bextor has been a constant in our lives since the 1990s when her collab banger with DJ Spiller, Groovejet (If This Ain’t Love), topped the charts and kicked off a stellar string of solo hits including Take Me Home and Murder On The Dancefloor.
The 43-year-old has five children – Sonny, 18, Kit, 13, Ray, 10, Jesse, seven, and Mickey, who’s three – with her husband, The Feeling’s Richard Jones, who she married in Italy in 2005. And as if all that indie-pop coolness weren’t enough, her mum is ’80s Blue Peter presenter Janet Ellis.
Sophie’s kitchen discos saved our sanity on many a lockdown Friday – we grabbed her for a chat about finding headspace, cooking up a storm and being a bookworm.
What are the first three things you do when you wake up?
I don’t get a lot of time to think. I’m normally hauled out of bed by my youngest, Mickey, who’s my alarm clock so I check the time to see how cruel he’s been to me. Then I start making tea for everyone who has to get out the door. A cup of tea is the only incentive for getting out of bed, isn’t it?
What’s your healthiest habit?
This is not very wacky or out-there, but I walk the kids to school and then I walk home on my own. I find I really need that headspace and I quite like having that half an hour of time for myself. We’re a big family and I like how busy that is, but I take a tiny moment in the day where I mull things over.
What's the weirdest utensil in your kitchen drawer?
It’s more about what ends up in there that’s not a kitchen utensil. You’ll open the drawer up and someone might have put a half-finished lollipop in there. Mickey likes to put lots of toys into Tupperware with water and leave them in the freezer.
What does an average day at home look like for you?
I record my Kitchen Disco show for Radio 2 in the morning every other week and I do my podcast called Spinning Plates and mornings are a good time for guests. It’s quite a nice feeling when I get on top of stuff before lunchtime. My house doesn’t always sound like a kitchen disco – I sometimes listen to more indie and reflective stuff.
What’s for lunch?
I’ve just finished my lunch actually. It was some leftovers of home-cooked cod and chorizo stew and it was very tasty. By lunchtime I’ve normally been up for hours, so I’m ready to go for it. I’m just as happy with a cosy cheese on toast, but I do like eating nice food even if it’s something simple. Richard and I both love cooking from scratch, so most of our meals are filled with fruit and veg and I always have a box of tomatoes on the side because I eat them like sweets.
What’s the unhealthiest thing we’d find in your kitchen?
It’s all about balance, isn’t it? I love all the good stuff in life, like cheese, crisps, chocolate and chips, but I try not to think of things as healthy and unhealthy. You know when you’re looking after yourself, don’t you?
What would you save if your house was on fire?
Let it all burn! I shop a lot on eBay, so I buy something that someone else was trying to get rid of. I’m not sure there’s anything much of monetary value knocking around. It would be nice to grab kids’ artwork and photos. With a house full of five children, I’ve kind of accepted the fact that most things probably won’t last very long anyway.
What’s your most used emoji?
The one with the little party hat on because I think you can use it for something positive, but also in a slightly more sarcastic way. I quite like that little guy.
Where’s your happy place?
I don’t know if I have a happy place, I just have people I like to be with. My mum lives ten minutes away and that’s where I grew up, so I’m always happy to be home. I’m quite a homebody. I do love our sitting room because it’s the one we don’t mess up as much as the others and when the sun’s shining it really gets the light.
We have the kitchen and playroom where things ebb and flow, so that room is about as grownup as I get, although it does have a ginormous 4ft model of an ice-cream sundae in it. Actually, maybe I’d try and rescue that in a fire.
What’s on your bedside table?
Billions of books. Some are fiction I want to read and some are written by guests coming on my podcast. I speak to working women who happen to be mothers and it turns out most of them have written a book, so I feel like I can’t really chat to them without reading it first. The other day, I spoke to Philippa Perry so I read The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read (And Your Children Will Be Glad That You Did). When I was a kid I used to read a book a day and I’m quite a fast reader, which is very handy.
Do you have any sleep rituals?
I don’t really have any problems falling asleep these days. When I was young I used to be really nocturnal and I could happily potter around for hours, but that changed once I had kids. I’ve reached that point in my life where I look forward to getting into bed and if I’m not quite ready to drop off I’m happy to read a book, play my Game Boy and go on my phone.
What would you spend £50 on in John Lewis?
Where we’re at now I would definitely go for Christmas decorations. I think I could get a lot of bang for my buck with that. A few years ago, I had the John Lewis magazine team come to my house to do a Christmas photo shoot. It was so barking because it was August and we’d just come back from holiday and all these people descended on the house with decorations, trees and tinsel and it was quite spectacular. I could have a lot of fun with my £50!
Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s festive Kitchen Disco is on BBC Radio 2 on Christmas Eve from 6-8pm and available now on BBC Sounds