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Panto star Matt Freeman on his favourite things about Devon

Matt Freeman as Sarah Suet in Dick Whittington. Photo: Ralph Whitehead
Matt Freeman as Sarah Suet in Dick Whittington. Photo: Ralph Whitehead

The self-styled professional idiot loves to explore Devon on foot - and loathes the M5 in summer

Tell about yourself and what you do.

I am an actor, writer and professional idiot. Company director of Devon-based theatre company Le Navet Bete, I work collaboratively to write and create comedy. We perform shows all over the county and do extensive work in schools and colleges in the hope that I can help inspire the next generation of comedy performers.

Where in Devon do you live?

St Thomas, Exeter

How long have you been here and what brought you here?

I have lived in Devon since 2003 when I came to the University of Plymouth's Rolle campus in Exmouth. It was there that I met my future business partners and my future wife - so making Devon my home was the best and only option.

What's the best thing about living in Devon?

The sea, the moors, and the generosity and loyalty of the people. People in Devon are rurally-minded, even in the cities and towns they have that connection to the country. They celebrate localness and Devon-ness and that’s really great.

And the worst?

The M5 in the summer. We spend a lot of time on the road and the motorway in summer is just the worst, it turns into a car park.

Describe your ideal day out in Devon

A coastal walk and swim in the sea, followed by some good local food and drink with my amazing family. I’m a big fan of Exmouth and East Devon and recently I’ve also spent a lot of time on the South Hams coast, doing day trips and camping. Hope Cove, Salcombe... they are relatively undiscovered for me and little bit quieter and less touristy.

What is your favourite Devon journey, by any mode of transport?

The South West coast path along the South Hams coastline, by foot. Now I’ve got the kids I don’t walk as much, but around that coast it’s just so lush and varied and the sea is so blue.

What is your favourite view in the county?

The viewpoint at Mamhead looking across to the River Exe and East Devon. I discovered it a few years ago and it’s on a lovely little walk, short enough for the kids to enjoy and the view is amazing.

What is your favourite month to be in Devon?

Any month when the sun is shining and I can get outside and make the most of the beaches and countryside

What's been your favourite role with Le Navet Bete?

Probably the mermaid in Treasure Island. She’s in the show for such a small amount of time, just two scenes, but she steals the show.

What gift from Devon would you give to a friend?

Bottle of Exeter Gin from the Exeter Distillery in St Thomas. It's a brilliant product and couldn't be more local!

What three words best describe Devon?

Heaven in Devon

What will you be doing for Christmas?

We have shows on Christmas Eve, then I have two days off when I’ll be with my wife and kids. We will have a very excited six and three year old. I’ll be cooking and just making the best, most exciting magical day for our kids and I’ll be absolutely exhausted!

Dick Whittington, a production by Exeter Northcott and Le Navet Bete is on throughout December and until January 7. For times and tickets see exeternorthcott.co.uk



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