Claudia Winkleman on film, family & cooking with Miranda

Today, I caught up with Claudia Winkleman - The Film Programme presenter and mum of two (with a third on the way!). We got chatting about Strictly Come Dancing, cooking with Miranda Hart, film, family and why the countryside makes her nervous. Read the exclusive interview here...

Do you think your parents' careers inspired you when you were growing up to get a job in media? (Claudia is the daughter of Eve Pollard, former editor of the Sunday Express, and Barry Winkleman, former publisher of The Times Atlas of The World).

Yes. Only because it was the only life I knew – a butcher’s son becomes a butcher, right. I studied History of Art at university and my mum wanted me to be an art historian, but I ended up going into magazines and working as a fashion assistant at Vogue and Tatler before getting into TV. I wasn't very good when I worked for magazines -  I was 21 and more interested in my eyeliner!

You’ve appeared on the BBC series Holiday and have made a BBC travel documentary reporting from places like India, Costa Rica and Dubai…but what would you say is your favourite holiday hot spot?

My favourite country is Italy – I’d be miserable if they didn't let me in for any reason. It’s because I love the 16th-century art there. I have great memories of studying in churches in Venice; the Uffizi gallery in Florence; amazing bowls of pasta; the best looking boys; beautiful architecture and art…

Also...Kerala in India simply knocked my socks off – I can't believe somewhere as amazing as that exists...

I’m off to Thailand next week, but I also like holidaying in the UK  - Babington House in Cornwall is simply amazing and my kids love it too.

You worked on Strictly Come Dancing and Let's Dance for Comic Relief - who’s been your favourite contestant on Strictly?

I can’t say that! It wouldn’t be fair. I loved a lot of the contestants who were voted off early on like Willie Thorn. And every week I missed Fiona Philips.

Your husband is film producer Kris Thykier and you co-present The Film Programme with Danny Leig, so, do you spend a lot of time watching films?

I’ve always loved the movies and Kris is obsessed by film. We go through real phases - we’re only watching Westerns at the moment. It’s quite hilarious as we really get into it – I can wear my Stetson cowboy hat and we’ll eat hot beans! I read a lot of film reviews on sites like Rotten Tomatoes and Ultra Culture and Hollywood Reporter and then I download the films from iTunes or Lovefilm.

What sort of home entertainment set up so you have at home - a massive home-cinema system or something more understated?

I know it’s quite odd, but we don’t have a TV in the living room – I like it to be a space where the children can play and read. We’ve got a TV in the bedroom and also in the study with a big sofa and every Sunday night we have movie night in the study with the kids.

What’s your favourite film?

Such a difficult question! It’s like asking me to pick a favourite child. But for sentimental reasons, as it was the first film I went to see and I cried, it’ll have to be E.T.

Best new film release?

Despicable Me with the kids – they love it.  And I can’t wait for the new X-Men movie.

Do you think it’s a shame that the Oscars categorise really great films into ‘Best Foreign Language’ film section?

They do – although I think it’s good that they’ve expanded how many films there are in this category – it feels baggier and better. I'm a kind of live and let live person, really.

You fronted the fourth series of Hell’s Kitchen on ITV1 and you recently appeared in Comic Relief Does MasterChef. Are you a good cook and what’s your dish?

I’m a terrible cook, but it was such fun doing Comic Relief does MasterChef with Ruby Wax and Miranda Hart. They are both hilarious. I tend to cook really basic things for the kids - pasta dishes with tomato sauce, sausages or home-made fish fingers if they'll eat them! But I don't know how to 'butterfly a lamb' - I don't even know what that means.

Describe your home’s style. Clean and simple or fun and frivolous?

Pale, white-wash and comfortable.  I don’t accept colour – I would hate a lime green wall, for example. But saying that I do have some Cath Kidston wallpaper and fabric at home. (Cath Kidston fabric, below)

You got an MA in history of art at Cambridge - what’s your favourite painting/genre?

I specialised in 17th-century Dutch art. Vermeer makes me happy. I love that there aren’t many of his works around. And the Virgin on the Rocks by Leonardo da Vinci at the National Gallery is wonderful – anyone should and can go see that for free. Braque and other Cubist artists are wonderful too.

What paintings fill your walls?

I have lots of print and photography at home – but obviously no original Braque or Vermeers!  I love the work of Rob and Nick Carter for instance. (Octopus Pig from the Postcards from Vegas series by Rob and Nick Carter, below)

What three products could you not live without?

BT Home Hub 3 – it uses Smart Wireless technology to give a really reliable wireless connection, which is great when I want to download a movie.

My Crème de la Mer moisturiser - I’ve had the same pot for 5 years and it makes my skin feel and look like I'm about 11 years old!

My MAC Cosmetics Eye Kohl eyeliner in Smolder...

Are you a country or city girl?

The countryside makes me nervous – I don’t like movement and fields or going for a walk, for example. I like tarmac and the sound of buses.

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Emily Peck, Editor

View all posts by Emily Peck, Editor