In her sixties, Lennie has, almost fallen, into a new exciting and creative career. She is the mother of Jessie Ware the English singer-songwriter. In late 2017, together they launched their podcast Table Manners, now in its eighth series they have broadcast over 80 podcasts and been listened to more than 8 million times.
Table manners is about ‘family, food and the art of good old chit-chat.
JB Tell me a bit about yourself, and your background?
LW I studied social science at University in the 1970’s. I then
worked as a social worker, and later trained at the Tavistock Institute to become a psychiatric social worker. Since 1989 I have worked as an independent social worker and a children’s guardian, often representing the case of the child in court cases.
JB How did the idea for“Table Manners” come about?
LW It was initially Jessie’s idea. She had thought of doing a pod cast based round food and entertaining. She asked if I would cook and I said yes, as I’d do anything to help her. From when the children were quite young, we would have Friday evening dinners. We had friends round to eat and talk, it often ended up with us dancing and singing. Jessie loved the Friday night get together and the good positive memories.
JB It sounds like fun. Do you have a large family?
LW Jessie is the middle of three children. My eldest daughter Hannah is an actress in America and is currently filming a new Net Flix series. Jessie has a younger brother Alex, who is a Doctor working in a London Hospital. They are all good cooks and love entertaining.
JB How did the pod cast evolve?
LW Well initially Jessie opened up her address book and invited friends, people she knew in the entertainment business. Ed Sheeran, Daniel Kaluuya, Sam Smith, So it started by asking people if they’d like to be involved. The idea was that I would be in the kitchen cooking, sometimes with Alex. In the event it wasn’t like that, I just couldn’t keep quiet. I wanted to join in with the conversation. We then discovered having an intergenerational podcast worked really well. People identify with the mother and daughter dynamic- the bickering, the laughing and I hope, my good one-liners. People often say ‘that is just how I talk to my mum’
JB Who does most of the cooking?
LW I have always done most of the cooking and if Alex isn’t working, he helps too. When we used to record in Jessie’s house she did some of the cooking. I am a good cook but I would say that Jessie is a more creative cook. John Lewis and Waitrose have sponsored a few of our episodes in this latest series.
JB I hear you have a cookbook Table Manners coming out next March how did that come about?
LW We were getting feed back from the podcast with people saying ‘that sounds lovely I’d like to make it ” and similar comments, so when we were approached by Ebury about a book, we agreed.
JB How do you find your guests now?
LW Some people approach us and in other cases it is people that we’d like to meet.
I really wanted to meet Tim Dowling, Guardian Columnist, and Sandi Toksvig who Jessie already knew. Neither of us knew, but really wanted to have Alan Carr on the podcast. We have had Haim and Stacey Dooley, Cheryl Cole and many more, just too many to mention all of them.
JB Have any of your guests ever tried to join in the cooking?
LW We had Loyle Carner, the rapper on. He runs a cookery school called Chilli Con Carner for children with ADHD.
JB Have you had other cooks on the programme?
We entertained Raymond Blanc. I was cooking Halibut with garlic fume. Raymond came and took over.
He said to me’ I can tell you are a really good cook’
I replied ‘Do you think there might be a little opening for me at Le Manoir’
His answer “I can also tell you don’t take orders easily”
We entertained Nigella, and she is gorgeous, really generous, polite, and has fantastic manners and she brought a present. We served lamb with a pistachio crust. Alex did most of the preparation that day including custard tart with big blackberries on top. He made two, to be sure, as that’s the sort of man he is. Nigella left him a little note saying how delicious it was. She also sent us thank you cards.
JB How many pod casts do you record a week?
LW We usually do 1, but we once did 4 in one week and that was exhausting. Currently Jessie and family are living with me whilst their house is being done up. So living and working together has its challenges. Last week we interviewed Nicole Scherzinger, and that was fun.
JB What next?
LW We did three live shows at the last Edinburgh Festival, each in front of an audience of 200 people. It went down very well, and so we are considering doing more live events.
JB Thank you.