Queer Eye’s Tan France: Starting a family with my husband has been the greatest joy

Queer Eye’s Tan France: Starting A Family With My Husband Has Been The Greatest Joy
Tan France sitting in chair, wearing a red roll neck top and red trousers, holding a flower.
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By Abi Jackson, PA

Tan France has admitted he is “the most Type A person” – and his fondness for routine has ramped up since becoming a parent.

The Doncaster-born stylist and TV presenter, who rose to fame as one of the ‘fab five’ on much-loved Netflix series Queer Eye, credited the family’s “particular” regiment for helping maintain a sense of calm.


“I am the most Type A person you’ll probably ever meet,” France, 40, told the PA news agency.

“My children run on a regiment that is so militant, so particular – I’m going to change my word from militant to particular! They wake up at a certain time, they eat at a certain time, they nap at a certain time,” added the style guru, who has two young sons – Ismail, two, and baby Isaac – with husband Rob.


“In the morning, we read a book when [Ismail] gets out of bed, then he comes down, has his breakfast, he can play with any toy he wants whilst he’s having breakfast, then we go out and play – and I know exactly what time he’s going to nap. And then in the evening, it’s bathtime, reading time, bedtime, in that order – and it has been since he was six weeks old, and that’s the case with my new one too.

“It means he understands what his day is going to be,” France continued. “Don’t get me wrong, there’s spontaneity in between those times, which is wonderful, but he knows how his day is going to go, and therefore he’s much calmer. What I found through the research we’ve been doing since we had children is lack of consistency creates tension in the child’s mind and makes it more difficult for them to understand the parameters. With routine, he really is able to then be free in the times where he doesn’t have to go to sleep or eat.”

France, whose TV credits also include Say Yes To The Dress, is known for his calming presence on screen. On Queer Eye – which sees France and his co-stars guide a different person each episode through a life transformation – he helps people reconnect with themselves and discover their confidence and self-expression. Getting to where he is today has taken a lot of work – but France credits his childhood as playing a big role too.

“I came from a very traditional South Asian family – by South Asian I mean Pakistani – and to speak very frankly, we were quite poor. So we didn’t have access to a lot of toys; we had outdoor space – that was our way of playing. And my mum was a very keen gardener, she loved to garden and used to plant the most beautiful gardens – and every year around spring, she’d let me pick the flowers. So, much of my play was centred around what I could do with these flowers,” France recalled.


Tan France holding a vase of faux flowers
Playing with flowers helped France’s creativity as a child (The Lego Group/PA)

“I created a shop where I would sell my flowers to my siblings and my cousins in exchange for candy, and I’d create little daisy chains and jewellery. So my play wasn’t just: I’m going to play with something. It was: I’m going to play with this thing and turn it into something. I think that was the most valuable form of learning for me.”

It’s why he agreed to team up with Lego. A global study by the brand found a third (32%) of children are spending less than three hours per week playing – less time than most adults spend on their phones. On average, youngsters are spending just 2% of their week playing, the survey of 21,180 parents with children aged six to 12 revealed.


The research also found 70% of parents prioritise ‘achievement-based’ activities – such as sports clubs or learning a language – over play, in the belief this will lead to greater success in the future.

“This really did touch my heart. The campaign is called Play Is Your Superpower, and I believe that so greatly,” said France. “With my kids, play is so important to us, and it was so important to my parents with us kids – my parents had five children – and it’s how I became who I am today.

“We were big on education – South Asian family, very big on education – but they understood the importance of play also, because it really encouraged my creativity. I think if I wasn’t as playful as I was as a kid, I wouldn’t have been able to achieve all I’ve achieved to this point.

“Education and all those other components are incredibly important. But play and being creative can unlock something in a child’s mind that academia can’t possibly do. This campaign is really about reframing play.”


Playtime is a cherished part of life in the France family home now.

“Strangely enough, most of his [Ismail’s] play is trucks, which my husband and I don’t understand,” France said with a laugh. “It’s all trucks, monster trucks. It’s: what can you do with these trucks, how fast can these trucks go, if I get this tyre will it go faster? So when I mentioned ‘reframing play’, it really is just understanding that one thing can encourage something else in his brain. Even with trucks, he’s learning to line them up, to count them, which ones go faster based on how heavy they are.”

Another goal for France is that playtime is a phone-free zone.

“When I’m working, I’m in another room, my son doesn’t typically see me work. Sometimes he’s on set and he will see me perform, but when it comes to Zooms, emails or work on my phone, he doesn’t see it – I don’t want him to think that screen time is something he needs to work towards.

“He does get to watch TV – he loves a Disney show, absolutely, but he gets limited access to that. I want most of his play to be physical play, not TV.”

France – whose children were born via surrogacy – said growing his family with Rob has been the “greatest joy” of his life.

When asked what his favourite thing about becoming a parent has been, he said: “Gosh – the best thing is the love. I love my boys so much… Before we had children, when it was just [me and my husband], I thought this was the upper echelon of what love can be. And then my kids came into the picture, and that blew my mind.

“So that’s been the greatest joy of my existence, growing my family together with my husband.”

Find out more about the campaign and watch the Play is Your Superpower film here: Lego.com/SuperpowerOfPlay.

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