celebrity shopping

What Cel Spellman Can’t Live Without

Photo-Illustration: Jane Stockdale

If you’re like us, you’ve probably wondered what famous people add to their carts. Not the JAR brooch and Louis XV chair but the stain-remover pen and the tongue-cleaner. We asked actor Cel Spellman, who just launched a new podcast, Call of the Wild by Cel Spellman and WWF, about the tea bags, subscription deodorant, and ecofriendly jewellery he can’t live without.


It’s important for me that my tea is environmentally friendly – so absolutely no plastic. I get my loose-leaf tea from this little garden shop in the Northern Quarter, and when it comes to tea bags, we always drink Yorkshire tea in the Spellman household. Yorkshire tea now uses plastic-free bags, so I can chuck the teabags into my compost bin when I’m done, and then I can take that to the allotment I look after with some friends. I spend a lot of time there. Now in terms of how I take my tea: milk, no sugar. But I have to have the bag in there a minimum of three minutes, although I actually prefer four minutes if I’m doing it myself. I heard on the radio that there was a scientific study into tea brewing, and they said four minutes was the optimum time.


Generally speaking, I’m a bit old-fashioned – I prefer tangible things. That was true of books until about four years ago, when I caved and bought a Kindle. I live up in Manchester and would often get the train to London for work, and I started noticing that my habit of bringing big books with me, and my laptop, plus all my other stuff, was really catching up with me. So I made the switch, and even now, during lockdown, I make a habit of reading books on my Kindle. I read in the evenings, and sometimes do an hour in the middle of the day. At the start of the pandemic, I read A Little Life – I know, heavy going – and every year I will reread The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, which is a wonderful read, it’s just so beautiful. Recently I finished David Attenborough’s A Life on Our Planet – an incredible, beautiful, eye-opening book. He’s actually a guest on an upcoming episode of my podcast, and he’s such an inspiration. I met him last January, before all the pandemic stuff, and we sat in the Soho hotel for 40 minutes just chatting about nature and the natural world. He’s one of the good ones.

I only started using this recently, towards the end of last year, after a friend tipped me off – it’s a refillable, reusable deodorant. So rather than having to constantly buy plastic roll-ons, or aerosols made out of God knows what, you have this tin containing a balm-like gel that you apply like a roll-on. It’s 100 percent natural, and when it runs out, they send you a refill that pops into your container. This comes in a few different scents, I’ve tried both the mint and the lavender haze ones, but I think the mint is my favourite.

I’m currently in Manchester with my family, and we have loads of green spaces near us, so I am doing a lot of running and exercise. We have a miniature dachshund, Dottie, so you’ll usually find me running around a nature reserve or taking her out. I got this bottle specifically because it’s bigger than your average water bottle – it’s 850ml, basically an industrial-sized bottle. I tell everyone to get this, because I always get enough water in the system. At home I have a few other brands like Chilly’s in the cupboards, but this is my go-to now. Often when I’m out, people ask where I got it from – I like the slightly textured finish on the exterior, and even though it has a few dents and bumps (I keep dropping it), it still looks nice.

Our whole family supports Man City, and have done ever since my grandad came over from Ireland. I’ve been supporting them since I arrived in the delivery room. So I can’t live without my season ticket, which I think I’ve had since about 1998. It’s been tough not being able to go to the home games like we normally would – it’s literally been in my routine all my life – and adjusting to current life watching games on the TV has been hard. I really miss being in a big group space, too. I am very fortunate to say, though, that I did a bit of presenting for City during lockdown; they decided to do an online show to bring the fans close to the game while everyone was at home. So I got to go to the stadium, film some bits, and even watch City play a game. It was an immense privilege, but it only emphasised how much I miss the way things were. [Editor’s note: Manchester City have temporarily suspended season ticket sales for 2020–21.]

I’m a big fan of hemp; in fact, I’m trying to spearhead the hemp revolution. Not many people know about it, but hemp is such a useful, versatile material. And my favourite backpack is made from hemp. I don’t have as much use for a backpack now, but ordinarily, I am a bit of a nomad, always sleeping on friend’s couches and going here and there. As long as I have got a bag with me, with my bits and bobs in, I’m good to go. Hemp is good for loads of things but it’s particularly good in clothing, and this bag has been by my side, or rather on my shoulders, for about seven years now.

I do enjoy a snack, especially a late-night snack. Usually I’ve got good staying power throughout the day, but at night, I come a bit undone in purely snacking terms. Normally, if I’m at the cinema, I get a large popcorn, and do not think for one minute I’ll be sharing it. To be honest, I normally finish it before the trailers start. My brother says my hands are like shovels – just going for it. Anyway cinemas are currently closed, but it’s still something I snack on around the house (I’m actually eating a bag right now). I have tried most popcorns, there are vegan options and healthy options, but I get the Butterkist “cinema sweet” one, which is equal parts sweet and salty. I prefer it to the toffee one because, while delicious, that one can just be a bit much.

I wear a lot of jewellery. Put it this way: If you’re going through an airport, you do not want to be stuck behind me, because it takes a long time to take all my stuff off. I like to pick up pieces on my travels, like rings or necklaces, I think they bring good luck. And I like things that tell a story. This bracelet was launched by the WWF, and it’s made from recycled plastic they collect from the ocean – as soon as I heard about it I knew I wanted to show some support. It’s a really good initiative, and jewellery like this is a great way to support causes that are trying to improve the planet.

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What Cel Spellman Can’t Live Without