Celia Imrie on the joy of the travel and always having a bottle of Champagne in her fridge

Photo credit: Tristan Fewings - Getty Images
Photo credit: Tristan Fewings - Getty Images

From Good Housekeeping

Celia Imrie is one of the nation's most treasured and well loved stars, with a career spanning over five decades across stage, screen and television.

From her roles alongside Victoria Wood in Acorn Antiques and Dinnerladies, to cinema hits such as Calendar Girls, Celia is truly a national treasure. And as well as her acting career, she's also enjoyed success in the book world, as a best-selling author.

Celia is starring in new film Love Sarah, out now, and the new series of acclaimed US comedy Better Things, which is coming to BBC Two later this year.

Celia, 67, lives between London and Nice, in the south of France. She has one son, Angus, who is 25 and also an actor. Here, she tells us about her passion for music, her love of Marmite, and the importance of a well-stocked fridge.

How would you describe your home? My home is Nice in France. It’s my paradise. It’s surrounded by turquoise, my favourite colour, and it’s all very light. I also have a view of the sea. It’s the most beautiful place on earth, except perhaps for India.

Cook for friends or eat out? Definitely eat out. I’m not a very good cook, and it’s more fun to go out. I like to try new places. My favourite cuisine is French – just tiny soupçons of deliciousness! They have some glorious skill and take eating very seriously, which is a wonderful discipline.

Photo credit: David M. Benett - Getty Images
Photo credit: David M. Benett - Getty Images

Who are your dream dinner party guests? I’ve done one dinner party, but never again. I don’t like them much. I prefer to go to a big party with lots of people in the room.

Do you have a signature dish? I only have one dish, really, that apparently my son never tires of. It starts with garlic, which always makes the house smell wonderful, and is then followed by tomato, pasta, Parmesan and basil. It’s very simple, but extremely tasty.

What’s your kitchen cupboard staple? I couldn’t do without Marmite. When you’re not in the UK, it’s sometimes quite hard to come by. It’s occasionally hidden in fancy delis or posh supermarkets if you search it out. You can’t palm me off with Vegemite, because it’s not the same.

What’s always in your fridge? A bottle of Champagne. It’s the most marvellous thing to celebrate with. It can also lift you up when you need extra inspiration.

What food could you not live without? Garlic. I don’t understand people who don’t like garlic, because it immediately makes you feel better. It’s an ancient medical cure and terribly important to the taste of things.

Do you have any time-saving tips? When loading the dishwasher, put all your knives in one place and all your forks in another. It makes unloading it so much faster, because you can take your knives and forks out in handfuls ready to put them away.

Are you a saver or a spender? I’m a bit of both, depending on my mood. I’m not mad about shopping, but I love going out for treats and I adore travelling, so that’s where I spend the most. Put me on a train and I’ll happily go round the world. Last year, I filmed in Bulgaria and went there and back on the train, which was a huge adventure.

What did your parents teach you? My mother has been a constant inspiration to me. My parents both taught me good manners, which I have passed on to my son; everyone says how charming he is. It’s just very nice when people are kind. They also taught me to live in the moment, which is the best thing you can possibly do.

What’s the best bargain you’ve ever found? I was given a Harvey Nichols voucher and wasn’t quite sure what to spend it on. I hit upon some Tom Ford perfume and, because of my voucher, I was able to get a large bottle. I adore its rose scent.

Photo credit: Dave J Hogan - Getty Images
Photo credit: Dave J Hogan - Getty Images

What keeps you awake at night? All of the things I haven’t done in the day.

What lifts you out of a bad mood? Music. I dance around the kitchen, and still think I can do ballet, which is a great passion. Any kind of music lifts me immediately, whether it’s The Rolling Stones, Tchaikovsky, Rod Stewart, Queen, or Montserrat Caballé singing opera.

What is your biggest extravagance? I love taking my friends out, and I love going to music concerts. I just adore live music. It’s one thing to hear people on the radio, but quite another to watch and listen to them perform live.

Where is your happy place? By the sea.

What's your health motto? Keep laughing. To me, that’s the best cure of all.

Celia stars in Love Sarah is out now in cinemas. Better Things is coming to BBC Two this autumn.

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