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 Russell Tovey, who can be seen in ITV Drama The Sister later this month, about the T-shirts, cleanser, and dog toothbrush that he (and his dog) can’t live without.
I got introduced to this brand when I was in my early 20s and working on a show called Being Human. At that age, I’d always had bad skin, and I was really conscious of it, especially as an actor. Sometimes representatives for brands come and meet you at work to show products off, and Dermalogica gave me some products from their ultra-calming range, including this ultra-calming cleanser. I’m now in my late 30s and I’ve been using it ever since. It’s something I have always had with me, always take with me, and over the years, as I’ve worn stage makeup or had products on my face, this has been the thing that has really protected my skin. People might not realise it, but as an actor whenever you’re out anywhere, media-wise, you’re wearing some combination of powder or foundation or something to cover your eye bags up. That, and long shoots where you’re filming all day really give your skin a battering. And, you know, I’m getting older, so I’m definitely more conscious of making sure my skin’s hydrated and being looked after.
These are my staple. I only discovered J Crew T-shirts about five years ago, but I already have about 30 different ones, all slightly different colours or tones. Basically, whenever a new shade comes out, I buy one (in large). I find them perfect. They’re deceptively simple, they wash well, and they’re an amazing fit. And I like that the colours aren’t too pop-y, they’re quite muted. I go for a lot of the blues, and the greens, and the greys. To me, there’s nothing better than a plain T-shirt that just works — the more you wash it, the more you wear it, the more faded it gets, the nicer it is.
This is very fancy dog food for my French bulldog, Rocky. He’s quite well known now from Instagram — people come up to him in the street and say hi. The creator of this brand made this dog food for her dog, Lily, who actually died earlier this year sadly. Lily had a really dodgy stomach and was just a bit sensitive, so her owner created this organic, chemical-free dog food. Ever since Rocky was a pup he’s had a sensitive belly, which is quite common with the breed, but ever since I put him on this stuff he’s been excellent. Now, I’ve got two more dogs, Cooper and Archie, who are both basset hounds, and they’re all on a combination of Lily’s dry kibble, wet food, and treats. It does seem fancy, but it’s actually really good value for money, because they love it, and it’s really good for them. These dogs are like my kids, so it’s important I don’t give them cheap food. Obviously I haven’t tried this brand myself — although I tried both dog and cat food when I was a kid. The cat food was the most repulsive thing I’ve ever put in my mouth.
Following on from that are these chews, which are so important — you’ve got to keep dogs’ teeth nice and clean. These are natural toothbrushes that are brilliant, because as you can imagine, brushing a dog’s teeth is quite hard, they don’t like it very much. I discovered these when I was out in New York, but you can get them online. They are quite expensive, but I have a trick; you can half each chew so they last a long time. The dogs absolutely love them, they think they’re getting a treat but you’ve tricked them into brushing.
I just love this scent. It smells like, I don’t know, it just smells sexy. I always put too much on, because people comment on it. I’ve worn it for a few years, and it always get a nice reaction, so I like to think of it as my “signature” scent. Before COVID, whenever anyone went on holiday I’d say, “Pick me up a bottle of Savage at duty-free, would you?” — I don’t even know if you even save that much at duty-free anymore but I always like to have a bottle. It smells masculine, but warm and mature, too. I don’t wear it as often since spending a lot of time at home during lockdown. I mean, sometimes I don’t shower for three days, you know?
This is a DAB radio that looks like a retro model from, like, the 1930s. I’ve got it in burgundy; I’ve had this since I was 20 years old, and it’s still working great. I have it on all day, on a low level; I usually listen to the BBC World Service, but sometimes Radio 4 too. I also leave it on for the dogs, if me and my partner ever go out — it feels like they’re getting an education that way. It’s very soothing, there’s talking, lots of plays, and also in-depth reported journalism. It’s such a great resource, and something I hope never disappears, even if it seems like it’s always under threat.
These make great gifts. Art is such a big part of my life, and I’m really proud that we have the Tate in this country, from the Tates in London to the Tate St Ives and the Tate in Liverpool. I think they’re just magic. I’m now a benefactor for Tate Art Now, which looks after emerging artists, gives them shows, and that’s something I’ve supported for a few years now. An annual membership is just over £70 a year, and you get to see the best shows — when it reopened this summer there was Andy Warhol at the Tate Modern. I feel very proud to have my membership card in my wallet, I really do. If you buy someone a membership, you’re giving them the opportunity to invest in their education and culture, and broaden someone’s minds. I think that’s amazing.
This is what me and my friend Robert use to record our podcast, Talk Art, on. The quality is really amazing, and it’s a neat size — I can just put it in my backpack and take it with me if I go off to interview someone. We both listen to a lot of art podcasts for research — I’m such an art geek, really, and that’s why we created the podcast. We wanted a space to celebrate art, but also a legitimate reason to meet all our heroes and all of these people we love. We started off recording at Spiritland studios in Kings Cross, then eventually we got equipment so that we could move around and do the podcast on the go. We’d travel to people’s houses, and set it all up — all you need is a flat surface really, and you’re good to go. But then COVID and lockdown happened, and we thought, Shoot, what are we going to do? In the end we set it all up remotely, and people would phone in — and we’ve never been busier. We ended up recording and airing two episodes a week! We must have done 50 in total, which is phenomenal. We took a brief hiatus but our seventh series just started, and we’ve had guests including painter and performance artist Cassi Namoda and Belgian-born artist Marianne Berenhaut.
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