Alice Levine: ‘Saying No Is Necessary To Stay Balanced’ – Interview

By Olivia Emily

9 months ago

Alice is teamed up with Dacia on their 'Good Thinking' campaign

You’ll recognise Alice Levine from across British TV – but you might know her voice best as one of the trio behind hit podcast, My Dad Wrote A Porno. Next, Alice is teaming up with car brand Dacia to promote good thinking. We sat down with Alice to talk all about Dacia’s Good Thinking project, plus fangirling over Louis Theroux, being a homebody, and loving city life.

Interview: Alice Levine

Alice Levine

Hi Alice! You’re currently teamed up with car brand Dacia – can you tell us about the project and your involvement?

Dacia challenged three of the UK’s top adventurers to a competition of ‘Good Thinking’ via a series of outdoor tasks designed to test their know-how, which was both interesting and humorous to watch on the sideline. The contest saw outdoor adventurers Akke Rahman, James Forrest and Adell Baker compete to be crowned Dacia’s ‘Good Thinking’ Champion, where they were only provided with a Dacia Jogger (car), a selection of essentials and the ‘Good Thinking’ that the brand is renowned for.

I hosted the contest which was then filmed and posted on Dacia’s social channels and website. It was a fun brand and project to be associated with. Dacia specially designs its cars for adventure but it isn’t the glossy, unrealistic expedition you usually see in other car ads.

What does it mean to be a Dacia ‘Good Thinking Champion’? Does it resonate with you?

Dacia is all about outdoor adventures that can be fun and uncomplicated; you don’t need all the bells and whistles, just a reliable selection of essentials. They really value everyday adventure and being outdoors. I think that’s really encouraging!

What was filming the tasks like?

Usually I am in a TV or radio studio or interviewing people in their homes or workplaces. So, to be in the countryside, building rafts and playing on the river was a very welcome change! I felt like I was in training to be a Scout!

What’s one task you think you’d fail immediately if you were handed it?

Anything that requires spatial aptitude – I just don’t have the kind of brain that is very good at building or constructing. I am not the friend you call when you have to put together the flat pack!

Alice Levine

What’s been your favourite project to date?

The podcast I do with Matt Forde, British Scandal, has just been an unexpected delight. We didn’t know each other, or the production team, and it has just been this fantastic chemistry from the very beginning. That’s so rare and I feel really lucky. We have done nearly 30 series now; The Canoe Con, The Cambridge Spies, The Rolling Stones, to name a few, and I think you can hear that we are having a great time.

Who’s someone you’ve learned a lot from in your career?

I’m still working with Louis Theroux and his company, Mindhouse, on documentaries. We’ve done two series of Sex Actually for Channel 4 now and we are currently working on ideas for what to explore next. Since being a teenager, I’ve been a huge fan and admirer, and to have him exec-produce my shows and be on hand for advice is so surreal and incredible. He gave me great pointers in the first series and learning by collaborating with him has been a career highlight.


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A post shared by Alice Levine (@thisisalicelevine)

Who’s someone you look up to?

I remember watching the comedy series Nighty Night when I was younger and it being such a game-changer for me. Since then, its creator, Julia Davis, has been a real inspiration. She writes, she performs, she conjures these amazingly weird, funny worlds and characters and they are always clearly from her pen – she has such a clear voice. Also, no one does grotesque better!

We did an episode of My Dad Wrote A Porno with her and Vicki Pepperdine in character as their fictional their agony aunts, Joan and Jericha, and I was really lost for words. They are just phenomenal to watch improvising.

What’s something you haven’t done before that you’d love to do?

Taking on the role as an executive producer on some projects is a new task for me. Having worked with great teams over the years – and also from co-producing things like My Dad Wrote A Porno – I realised I had gathered a lot of knowledge and experience which I could use in a different way to presenting. I’m really enjoying it and the projects are really coming together.

Do you get to spend much time at home?

I spent a lot of the last few years either all over the world on tour or filming elsewhere in the UK or in America, so I just love getting home, closing the door and going nowhere.

I am such a homebody by nature. I love being in my neighbourhood. I can spend a lot of time pottering and cooking and listening to the radio. I am essentially 40 years older than I should be.

Ideally people would come to me – lazy and selfish, I know. But I love making a big meal for everyone or the garden being full of chatter at night. I also love movie nights at mine in winter with the fire on. I have always been like that; I think I get it from my mum.

Do you live in the town or the country? Which do you prefer?

I have always lived in cities. I grew up in Nottingham, went to university in Leeds, spent some time working in Melbourne, and have lived in London for most of my adult life. I can’t imagine life in the countryside. I can’t drive and I cycle everywhere, so that part of it just isn’t really practical. There is something about having everything on your doorstep in a city that I’m not sure I could sacrifice. I got talking to someone one day when I was out for a walk who had retired and, with her husband, had sold their family home in Devon and moved to a small flat in one of the towers in the Barbican. She said all their friends thought they were mad to do it at that stage of their life – but she said to me ‘when we go downstairs, we have a concert hall, two theatres, three cinemas, two art galleries, a public library and conservatory – who can say that?’. That’s how I feel about living in a city.

What’s your interior design style?

It would be polite to say eclectic, but accurate to say a bit of a mish-mash. I have a lot of pieces that my parents chose wisely when they were setting up home and have kindly donated to me over the years – Marcel Breuer Cesca chairs, some lovely rugs and ceramics, and I have gathered my own things very slowly, too. I have piles of items everywhere – books, photos, drawings I’m doing, scripts for work. So it’s not a minimalist’s dream, but I hope it feels cosy.

I like the outside to feel like it’s coming in, so I have lots of indoor plants and the big windows were what drew me to the house in the first place.

What qualities do you think have made you successful?

That’s a hard question to answer about yourself, but all the things I host, or write, or produce have a sense of humour that runs through them, so perhaps it’s something to do with that.

What’s your relationship with social media like?

I hate it, I’m addicted to it, I have met great people there, it makes me feel terrible about myself, I don’t see the point, it’s essential for work, it’s inspiring, I am scared of it, it makes me laugh daily – basically, it’s complicated.

How do you find balance in your personal and work lives?

Most of the time I love my job and find the challenges it throws up really stimulating and rewarding. I also get to work with brilliant people which is a joy. I sometimes get to laugh all day at work, which I know is a privilege.

But I have been guilty of spreading myself too thinly in the past and not taking enough downtime, which I need physically but also mentally if I want to be good at what I do creatively.

I’m so fortunate that I am at a stage in my career where I am able to pick and choose the projects that genuinely excite me. So saying ‘no’ to things is a very necessary tool in my arsenal to keep the balance right.

What did you want to be when you were growing up?

A painter like my mum, a dance teacher like the woman who taught in the local church hall, a lecturer like my dad, ITV Gladiator, Swing Ball champion, a mushroom forager, Cattery owner… You know, the usual.

If you could give advice to your 15-year-old self, what would it be?

Get in trouble more – it’s not the end of the world.

How can we all live a little bit better?

This isn’t going to combat any colossal global issues or societal problems; forgive me, I’m not sure I’m going to have time to solve those here. So this is a very small thing, a tiny something that could turn someone’s day around: send people post. A thank you, a congrats, a hello, a note to say you’re thinking of them. It takes you no time to write a postcard on the bus or while you’re watching TV, and it means so much to receive in amongst all the bills.

Anything fun in the pipeline – professionally or personally?

No, nothing – I’m staying in my house and going nowhere and you can’t stop me.

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