Tim Rice: ‘There’s a story behind every song, whether it’s from The Lion King or ABBA’

Tim Rice, pictured in his home in Barnes, south west London
Tim Rice, pictured in his home in Barnes, south west London - Clara Molden

How do famous names spend their precious downtime? In our weekly My Saturday column, celebrities reveal their weekend virtues and vices. This week: Tim Rice


I try to lie in but Kirsty the boxer dog demands to be walked.


I’ve got a modest outdoor pool which I leap into with gay abandon. It’s rather nice even in snow or murky weather. Swimming is the only sport I was ever good at in school and I still enjoy it. It’s a chance to think uninterrupted, though some idiot will invent the perfect underwater phone soon in another step towards the destruction of civilisation.


I take Kirsty on her walk. I’ve also got some common-or-garden chickens and a bantam who lays lovely eggs, so I’ll feed the chickens and make scrambled eggs for breakfast.


I plan to sort out my books and record collection, which I’ve been trying to do since about 1959 and, of course, I never really do because then the newspapers arrive and my determination to do something constructive is wiped out by the fact it takes so long to read them.


I won’t have much of a lunch, but my daughter Eva (one of two children from his marriage to Jane McIntosh) lives round the corner (in Buckinghamshire), so she might come over and say, ‘Dad, why aren’t you eating?’ My family spent 60 years telling me I’m too fat and now tell me I’m too thin.


I spend time planning for my new show, My Life in Musicals – I Know Him So Well. There’s a story behind every song, whether it’s Don’t Cry for Me Argentina, songs from The Lion King with Elton, or working with Björn and Benny from ABBA on Chess or Alan Menken on Aladdin.


I watch football – and support Sunderland AFC. When I was seven, the boys all supported our nearest teams, Luton or Watford; I wanted one no one else supported. I looked at the First Division teams and chose Sunderland because it sounded like a romantic name and gave me images of golden beaches. Then I discovered I’d picked the team that was furthest away from me as a softie southerner.


As it’s almost Christmas, my family turns up – whether I want them to or not – to do a tree, which is lovely. If I was completely on my own, I wouldn’t bother. We’ll have a nice family Christmas. Church is on the menu, then we’ll light a fire and it will be very traditional. I’ve got four children [he has two daughters from subsequent relationships] and seven grandchildren, so I’ll get roughly half, and see the others at New Year.


I don’t go out much but sometimes there’s a songwriters’ dinner, which is a great night. We have a big annual Christmas bash.


I’m a bit of a telly addict. I watch the new Frasier and wind down with a whisky. The trouble with wine is, when you open the bottle, you think, ‘Well, I might as well finish it because otherwise it’ll go off.’ So I’ve discovered a generous Scotch on the rocks.


I hardly ever sleep before 1am, so I’ll read. I get sent cricket books because I once had a cricket column in The Telegraph. I’m reading Simon Heffer’s new book, Sing As We Go, a hefty tome on the history of this country between the wars.

My Life in Musicals – I Know Him So Well is in theatres from 18 April 2024; sirtimricelive.com