How We Met: Ronni Ancona & Eva Rice

'She walked into my antenatal class, and I thought, "Oh, it's Nigella!"'

Eva Rice, 37

The daughter of lyricist Tim, Rice (right in picture) embarked on a career as a singer-songwriter – but it was her debut novel, 'Standing Room Only', that propelled her into the public eye. Her third book, 'The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets', sold more than a quarter of a million copies. She lives in Notting Hill with her husband.

I'd seen Ronni on Alistair McGowan's Big Impression and particularly liked her Posh Spice routine. And then she walked into my antenatal class six weeks before our first babies were due, and I did a double-take; I thought, "Oh, it's Nigella; oh, it's Posh Spice…" We all sat around for our first session with dolls to put nappies on, and we were both total idiots with no clue what to do.

I know her primarily as the mother of Lily. That's our focus: the school, the girls, who's going round to who's. Having kids fast-tracked our friendship, because for that first child it's really important to be with people you can have a laugh with. I remember sitting in a café with my baby and feeling someone had just given me a live toy I didn't know how to operate. Then I looked at Ronni and realised we both felt we were in the same boat, and that was a comforting feeling.

She's a good actress – she has that way of soaking up people's personas and the way they talk. But as a comedian she is atypical; she is unbelievably beautiful and in comedy that works against you. In Skins she played a teenager's mother, but what was funny was how most teenage boys in the cast fancied her anyway.

I use Ronni as my comedienne gimp. At our Christmas party for the other mums at my house she read The Night Before Christmas in three voices, including Marilyn Monroe. And at our party to celebrate the Royal Wedding, she impersonated every guest walking into the church – she even did the Queen.

Having her still-born son in 2006 was tough for her. It's one reason I wanted her to be godmother to Kit, my second son. She still talks about her little boy – it's how she deals with it; she often asks me what it's like having a boy that age.

Both of her girls have inherited her sense of the dramatic. If one of her kids is having a full-scale meltdown she'll say, "Oh my god it's Lana Turner again"; she's great at finding comedy in difficult moments of parenthood.

Ronni Ancona, 44

Best known for her myriad impressions, Ancona has also carved out a career as an actress, most recently appearing in TV drama 'The Last Tango in Halifax'. She lives in west London with her husband and two children.

I met Eva at my antenatal class, in a café up Portobello Road in London. We bonded immediately as we were the naughty ones at the back, sniggering every time the word "vagina" was mentioned. You can tell you're kindred souls when you can be rude to one another so early on.

Then I had my little girl and we went through this incredibly challenging, knackering time of early motherhood together. It turns your world upside down and those around you are dragged into it. I'd turn up with my hair sticking up on end, congealed yoghurt down my top and my breasts on the floor and Eva would be like, "You look great!".

I didn't know her family background initially as we never talked about surnames. It wasn't until I saw a photo of [her father] Tim Rice on her wall that I thought, gosh she looks a bit like him. I saw him recently at Eva's and I said to him, "Tim, you've got such talented children – where do they get it from?" He laughed at that – the man's a legend. Eva's working on a musical now, too, and the songs are truly beautiful.

Shortly after I found out about her family connections I got invited to her book launch, for The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets. When I read it I was like, oh good, she's not only beautiful and adorable, but talented too. She's got an agelessness to her writing. She has a great manner of speaking, too, as she uses her hands to gesticulate a lot of vocabulary marks; she's always doing parentheses in the air.

Every year Eva and [her husband, the musician] Pete [Hobbs] do a Christmas soirée; they pick up a guitar and do some songs together. Then there's me with my appalling recorder-playing. I'm hopeless; all I do is stupid voices.

I was the first to get pregnant with a boy, then Eva had a little boy, Billy. But I lost mine. For a while it was hard for her knowing how to [approach my loss], but she was incredibly supportive and we became closer for it.

When we meet up these days, Eva is a total lightweight when it comes to wine – she has two sips and says, "That's gone right to my head." I like a few glasses so I'm like, "For God's sake!" I've just played an alcoholic in Last Tango in Halifax, but I don't want to come across as an alcoholic!

Rice's new novel, 'The Misinterpretation of Tara Jupp' (Heron Books, £14.99), is out on Thursday

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Ashdown Group: HR Manager - West London - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: HR Manager - West London - £...

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment & HR Administrator

£17000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Guru Careers: HR Manager / HR Business Partner

£55 - 65k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: A HR Manager / HR Business Partner i...

Recruitment Genius: Senior HR Assistant

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Company's vision is to be t...

Day In a Page

John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
Kitchens go hi-tech: From robot chefs to recipe-shopping apps, computerised cooking is coming

Computerised cooking is coming

From apps that automatically make shopping lists from your recipe books to smart ovens and robot chefs, Kevin Maney rounds up innovations to make your mouth water
Jessie Cave interview: The Harry Potter star has published a feminist collection of cartoons

Jessie Cave's feminist cartoons

The Harry Potter star tells Alice Jones how a one-night stand changed her life
Football Beyond Borders: Even the most distruptive pupils score at homework club

Education: Football Beyond Borders

Add football to an after-school homework club, and even the naughtiest boys can score
10 best barbecue books

Fire up the barbie: 10 best barbecue books

We've got Bibles to get you grilling and smoking like a true south American pro
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power
Ron Dennis exclusive: ‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

Ron Dennis shrugs off a poor start to the season in an exclusive interview, and says the glory days will come back
Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most