Rebecca Front on the calming power of dog walking and how London is her happy place

Jen Crothers
Photo credit: Rachell Smith

From Good Housekeeping

Rebecca Front is one of Britain’s most recognisable faces. A comedy stalwart, Rebecca has appeared in The Day Today, Knowing Me, Knowing You… with Alan Partridge and the iconic Nighty Night. She’s also deftly turned her hand to more serious TV roles, which have included roles in Lewis, Midsomer Murders, Death Comes To Pemberley, and Humans.

She won a BAFTA for her performance as hapless MP Nicola Murray in political comedy The Thick Of It - and now, she’s starring in a new Sky HBO comedy Avenue 5, written by comedy king Armando Ianucci (The Thick Of It, Veep) alongside Hugh Laurie and Josh Gad, which airs this month.

Rebecca lives in London with her husband Phil Clymer, a TV producer, her children Oliver, 21, and Tilly, 18 and beloved two year old cockapoo Bailey, her first ever pet and whom she admits has “completely stolen my heart”. Here, she tells us about breaking up with fast fashion, her obsession with olives, and the calming power of a dog walk.

How would you describe your home? It's cosy, comfortable, and a relaxing place to be. It's not huge and it's exactly how I want it to be; somewhere I can hunker down.

How tidy is it? Moderately is the word. I spend quite a lot of time tidying because it bothers me when there's clutter about. I'm just not naturally tidy and neither are my husband and kids, so there always is some clutter. I don't mind up to a point - I couldn't bear living somewhere that was clinical and minimal. I like having stuff around me, but equally, if I can't put anything down on a surface, it starts to really get me down.

Photo credit: HBO

Do you prefer to cook for friends or eat? I like both. I think it's more relaxing cooking, not least because my husband is a brilliant cook. Do I like to cook for friends? The answer is I prefer my husband to cook! He does all the prep and all the clearing, I just turn up and eat.

What is your signature dish? There are a couple of things that I can cook, it's just that I tend not to because my husband does it better. I make quite a good veggie or vegan ramen when I’m absolutely forced to cook and that usually turns out quite well.

What do you always have in your fridge? The healthy answer is salad. We've always got salad, because apart from my husband, we're all vegetarians. The slightly less healthy thing is a bottle of gin or vodka. You need a bit of naughtiness in your life.

What food could you not live without? Olives. I'm absolutely addicted to them. If somebody puts olives in front of me I have to finish the entire bowl, I can't leave any. I am endlessly addicted and in fact, my son Oliver is named after my favourite food.

Are you a saver or a spender? I'm a saver, but not a very successful one. I'm quite cautious about money, which I think you have to be when you're freelance. You're more aware that money comes in dribs and drabs.

What's your biggest extravagance? Clothes. I don't spend a lot on clothes, I don't buy designer things, but I buy too many, probably. As I'm learning from my kids more about the environmental impact of that, I think that's something I'm going to have to rein in a bit.

What's the best bargain you've ever found? Recently I bought some upcycled chairs from a company called RECOVER. It's also a charity for people who are in recovery from addiction and people who are coming out of prison. We were in a craft market and I saw these chairs and thought they were beautiful, and couldn't understand how these beautiful chairs in really unusual fabrics could be very cheap. It’s because it's run as a not-for-profit charity. I've been tweeting them ever since because I thought it's such a great thing to be doing.

What is your best time saving tip? In any job that you're doing, just clean up as you go along.

What did your parents teach you? To try and put yourself in other people's shoes, and try not to be too judgy and think about why people are the way they are.

What keeps you awake at night? Everything. I go through phases of anxiety about all sorts of things. It might be the planet, it might climate change, it might be my own health, it might be my kids' safety - just a million and one things. Anything and everything will keep me awake if I let them.

What lifts you out of a bad mood? A dog walk. Every time I take Bailey out I just feel all the anxiety lifting. I think you have to be properly present when you're walking a dog, you've got to be in that moment, looking at the scene, looking at him and watching what he's doing and making sure he's not rolling in fox poo. For somebody like me who is a worrier and an overthinker, there's something brilliant about just having to be out in the open air and really thinking about what I'm doing.

Favourite household task? Weirdly, probably ironing. I slightly dread it, but once I start doing it I really enjoy it and take real pride in it.

Where is your happy place? Home. Whenever we go away, and wherever we are, however lovely it is, I just cannot wait to get home. I crave London.

Sky Original series Avenue 5 starts Wednesday 22 January 10pm on Sky One and NOW TV

Rebecca also supports the Red Cross’ #ItStartsWithHer campaign: “If you do one thing this month, visit your local British Red Cross shop. Every item bought (up to £2 million) will be doubled by the UK Government to help build safer and stronger communities for women in Bangladesh #ItStartsWithHer”

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Photo credit: Hearst Owned

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