Actor Timothy Spall sings praises of Wells in BBC television programme All At Sea

15:00 06 March 2012

Timothy Spall with his wife Shane, who will appear in Wells in a BBC television show next week

Timothy Spall with his wife Shane, who will appear in Wells in a BBC television show next week


The quaint north Norfolk seaside town of Wells is highly-regarded throughout East Anglia and further afield for its golden beach, stunning scenery and old world charm.

And the town, which attracts thousands of visitors from across the country each summer, now appears to have found a new fan in the shape of one of Britain’s best-loved actors.

Timothy Spall, the London-born actor who went from playing the gormless bumbling Brummee builder Barry Taylor in Auf Wiedersehen Pet, to gaining international recognition for his roles in such films as The King’s Speech, The Damned United and the Harry Potter series, describes Wells as “one of Britain’s hidden gems” in a BBC television documentary to be shown tonight.

In the BBC Four programme, Timothy Spall: All At Sea, the 54-year-old admits that he had never heard of Wells before but he falls in love with the town.

It is the third of four episodes of the third and final series of shows about Mr Spall’s six-year navigation of Britain in a Dutch barge, called Princess Matilda.

Tonight’s episode is called God’s Own Coast and sees Mr Spall and his wife Shane arrive at Wells from Spurn Head, near Hull.

In the 30 minute show, which was filmed last summer, Mr Spall says: “Wells is one of Britain’s hidden gems, it’s blessed with natural beauty and yet we’d never heard of it before.”

Later in the show, while on Wells beach, he says: “What a wonderful, wonderful oasis, look at it. And look at that, that amazing beach, all these huts, been here years and years and yet to buy one it’s about £90,000, £60,000 or £70,000.

“Look at it (pointing at people on the beach with camp fires) if you squint your eyes they could be some strange settlers’ encampment. It’s wonderful. What more do you need to know about what beautiful a country we live in?”

Mr Spall also comments on Wells’s history in the show.

He says: “Although it’s called Wells-next-the-Sea, the main town is a mile inland. Five hundred years ago this would have been under water. The strong tides of the North Sea pushed silt and sand onto the Norfolk coast, placing towns like Wells inland.”

Paul Crompton from Barge Pole Productions, which made the show, said: “Timothy was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia more than 10 years ago and at one point a doctor told him that he only had a few days to live, but he pulled through.

“Since his recovery he has been attracted to spending as much time as he can on the water. He loves the peaceful nature of life on a narrow boat, and that is how this television series started.

“Because he is on a barge, he can only go out to sea when the weather is very calm. We have also made the show around Timothy’s filming commitments. So he keeps stopping for a while and then starting again from where he left off; that’s why it has taken six years.”

He added: “Timothy and his wife Shane spent a week in Wells and they absolutely loved the place.

“The series has been an amazing success. It gets, on average, an audience of about half a million viewers. When it is repeated on BBC Two I’m sure it will get about two million.”

The show begins at 8.30pm.


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