On the sofa with... Alice Levine
The presenter, 30, tells Ellen E Jones about falling asleep in front of the TV, the shows that make her check under the bed at night, and her love of Sky Living drama Elementary
I’m really bad at watching just one episode of something. I tell myself, when I get in from work and I’ve made dinner that I’ll just watch one before bed. Then I always end up looking at the clock and it’s, like, 1am — even if I’ve got an early start. I don’t know what my record is, probably something awful like six episodes. Often in bed and often on the sofa and half falling asleep. Maybe I’ve got an addictive personality? Or just no self-control.
It’s always got to be cosy. Lamps on, preferably a blanket draped over me somehow, and I have to be in very unattractive, comfy clothing. It’s really important that it’s unattractive, because, generally, if you’re optimising the comfort, then the look will decrease. Also, I need a good, free-flowing supply of snacks and drinks. You basically want to hunker down and not have to move, don’t you? So everything has to be within an arm’s reach.
I get into real trouble for falling asleep in front of the television. Apparently I have a two episode limit before I’m out cold. Most people I’ve watched anything with have said that. And I’m particularly bad when I’m ‘at home at home’ — at my parents’ house — because they’ve got a fire, they’ve got blankets and there’s, y’know, central heating, which they’ve actually switched on, whereas, in my flat, I’m very frugal with that. All of the conditions there are optimum for falling asleep. So I’ve seen a lot of the first halves of a lot of great films.
I also do love to pause and have a chat. I could definitely make an hour-long episode last three-and-a-half hours with my additional commentary. That’s why I love to watch the stuff that everyone else is watching at the same time. The only problem with that is everyone’s also tweeting, so you have to really up your tweet game. That’s what’s gutting isn’t it? When you get three ‘likes’ and you’re, like, ‘Guys, that was a really great gag there, so…’
I like anything with a mystery or true crime element. Violence doesn’t really bother me. I don’t like it if I have to walk through the flat and switch on all the lights and check under the bed, so I’m not very good with scary, but anything with a mystery element is fine. That’s why I really enjoy Elementary. It’s quite fast-paced, which for somebody with not a great attention span like me, is good.
I like playing along with the deduction part of it and its eccentric nature — Jonny Lee Miller’s version of Sherlock is pretty out there, isn’t it? In every episode there’s that moment when he hones in on something. He does that hamster-esque look, he’s twitching away, he’s got something in his sights and then there’s that unravelling of all the clues.
I don’t fancy him. That’s no slight on JLM, but he’s not my bag particularly — and, oh my God, Sherlock would be so annoying in real life! But I do like the dynamic between the two leads. In so many male-female partnerships on TV there’s an underlying current of romance, whereas this is just not about that, which makes it a bit more evergreen. The dialogue bounces back and in a way that’s very rapid-fire, but also it’s a kind of yin and yang, where Lucy Liu [who plays co-star Dr Joan Watson] is a very calm, minimal, natural performer and then he’s created this… whirlwind!”
In terms of things I don’t watch, any sport is a no go and I don’t really watch any reality TV, which is weird because I worked on Big Brother for three years. Maybe I just got my fill? Maybe that was saturation point? I would never actually go on any of those shows either. I don’t think the cheque could be big enough. I enjoy time on my own far too much to be confined with other people. Any of the ones where you don’t get very much food would be the worst. I’d be hangry non-stop. That sounds dramatic, but when I’m hangry, you will not like it. To be fair, I’m not into any show that requires massive investment, anything that’s on multiple times a week. I just lose my way. I mean, I’m clearly a commitment-phobe.
My TV snack “I made this block of fridge fudge — it’s essentially melted chocolate and nuts and other great things like butter. I dread to think how many calories were in the slab I ate.”
My most annoying TV habit “Being indecisive, so starting something and then being like, ‘Oh God, is this not good? Should we try something else?’ When we’re just 10 minutes in.”
TV Habit I find most annoying in others “Bad mood lighting. People who have the big light on: stop it! What are you trying to do? We’re not in prison.”
First TV crush “Probably Fox in The Animals of Farthing Wood. He had a real je ne sais quoi about him.”
Current TV crush “Louis Theroux. I’m just in awe of him, really.”
My TV soulmate “My brother, although he’s infuriating as he’s a second screener. He’s on his phone and I want him fully engaged and watching with me.”
Screen style icon “Anyone in Mad Men for a while. I probably err on the side of Peggy more than anyone, with lots of woolens.”
My TV hero “Julia Davis. She is a genius.”
Elementary features detective Sherlock Holmes and Dr Joan Watson in a modern-day drama about a crimesolving duo that cracks the NYPD’s most impossible cases.