Question time: Sophie Ellis-Bextor
Sophie Ellis-Bextor on talking posh, looking weird and why she'll never do an interview without Blue Peter being mentioned
You and your mother [former Blue Peter presenter Janet Ellis] have been campaigning to bring back family mealtimes. It doesn't sound very rock'n'roll.
We really love our food and we both have families, so we're quite good people to talk about cooking and eating together. Sonny, my eldest son, is five, so it's important that we have mealtimes together. It's partly so I can see what he's eating, because kids can get really distracted. Also, I want to keep an eye on him so he has good basic manners.
You were relatively young (25) when you had Sonny. Do you think your record company disapproved?
If they did, they didn't show it. I don't think that old-fashioned idea of record companies exists any more. But, you know, sod them if they were worried about it. These things happen. It's cool that I managed to have two in my 20s. But I still want to work – I think it's quite healthy for them to see me not being defined as a mother. It keeps my mind stimulated.
But it meant that you took time out in your mid-20s, an important time for a female pop star particularly, at the height of your success. Was that difficult?
Not really. I had just done my second album and I felt that my third album was really important – that if it was good, I would have a career for life. I immersed myself in songwriting when Sonny was about four or five months, but I was always able to be there for supper and bath time.
Did you worry you wouldn't be able to pick up where you left off?
I think it's always good to have a bit of that worry, because that's what spurs me on to make good stuff. People are always going, "There are lots of young female singers, are you worried?" But I love music and I want there to be good people out there. Also, I think women really come into their own in their 30s. It gives you a bit more depth. There are a lot of people out there who lie about their age and I think it does us all a disservice. It can't all be over when you hit 30. That would be rubbish.
You're famous for being wonderfully weird-looking. How do you feel about the way you look?
I think it stood me in good stead because when I was a teenager, boys were just not interested. I didn't see myself as a good-looking girl and that was good, because I didn't rely on it. It's not really a big deal to be pretty – there are loads of pretty girls out there – so it's good to stand out. A lot of what inspired many musicians is celebrating differences, and people relate to that – more people feel like the unpopular, freaky one than the one in the in-crowd.
Do you still feel like that?
All the time, but I've now found lots of like-minded weirdos so it's OK. And now I'm producing my own crazy-looking offspring.
How is Kit? [Ellis-Bextor's son was born in February, nine weeks early, weighing just 2lb 10oz, after she developed pre-eclampsia]
He's doing absolutely amazingly. He's really chubby and is all circles – cheeks and thighs. He was incredibly small to begin with and I'm just really relieved that he's not like that any more. He's great now, but it wasn't the easiest time. I know it's a cliche, but something like that really does put everything in perspective.
You must be the only pop star who has never tried to hide their middle-class background. Did you ever think of taking the "mockney" route?
I wouldn't have pulled that off at all. I was working with someone the other day and they said, "Have you ever tried rapping?" Come on, please, that would be ludicrous. In real life, I'm not super-posh but if that's the stereotype, I really don't care. It could be worse.
Does it annoy you that Blue Peter always gets mentioned too?
No, I understand it because it's a big cornerstone of people's childhoods.
Is it true you sold Blue Peter badges in the school playground?
Yes. It's bad isn't it? 50p for a badge, or £1 for a badge and an autograph. I hope my son doesn't do that to me. And if he does, I hope it's for more than £1.
Sophie Ellis-Bextor has contributed to the Changing Plates report, with Oxford University and Birds Eye, which looks at meal times and their role in modern life.
SOURCE: The Guardian