Husband and wife Kelvin and Liz Fletcher don’t do things by halves. Not only are they parents to Marnie, seven, Milo, aged four, and 18-month-old twins, Mateusz and Maximus, they are trying their hand at farming on their 120 acres on the outskirts of Macclesfield and having it all filmed for ITV’s Fletchers’ Family Farm. I caught up with the dynamic duo as they launched their latest venture – Santa’s Village.

You’re both actors. Did you always know it was the profession for you?

Kelvin: It started off as a hobby and a passion for me. I joined Oldham Theatre Workshop because it was on my doorstep and as something to do as a kid . My careers’ advisor asked me what I wanted to do when I left school, but at the time I was already in Emmerdale and had a lot of credits to my name as a child actor. I remember thinking then that I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I was older, but let’s see what happens. And years later I’m still seeing what happens.

Liz: We were friends as kids as we were both doing drama at Oldham Theatre Workshop but I fell out of love with it a bit and went on to do hairdressing, studied at uni and became a fashion buyer. Then Kelvin and I started dating in our mid-twenties and I found my passion for performing again, and so enrolled at the London School of Musical Theatre, focusing on acting full-time.

Was it a shock as parents of two young children to find out you were having twins?

Liz: My nanna was a non-identical twin but not once did I think I could be carrying twins. Then I went for the 12-week scan and the nurse turned to me and said: ‘I’ve got something to tell you...’ Kelvin was ecstatic, he said it was a Christmas miracle.

Kelvin: That was the most joyous moment I’ve ever experienced on this earth. Liz: While I was thinking: ‘How the hell am I going todo this?’Buttherehavebeensomany magical moments having the two together, having a family of childrenandaworking farm. It’s a lot, but we get on with it and find ways to get through the challenges. Our families are about an hour away from us and they’re brilliant at helping out with the kids.

How do you both juggle family life and work balance?

Kelvin: Time management is a challenge, as it is with most people.In fact, after our chat I’ve got an audition. Hopefully, Fletchers’ Family Farm shows our varied life on the farm honestly and authentically. I love the variety. One example of how varied it can be was when last year I was at the Olivier Awards and the next day I was mucking out the pigs. There’s no better way to appreciate both sides.

How did the farm idea come about?

Kelvin: We were moving to California, believe it or not. Our house was on the market, we had gone through the visa process, and were thinking that for the next two years or so our lives, as a then family of four, was going to be in the States. Covid interrupted that process but we knew we wanted to do something bold and have a challenge. One day I was on Rightmove, and spotted this little farm in Macclesfield and we went to see it. Even though Liz was a little reluctant at first, we swapped California for the Cheshire Peak District. It’s a real journey of discovery for us both. We started off with a few sheep and now we have a full flock, some pigs, chickens, pygmy goats and alpaca. What’s lovely about Fletchers’ Family Farm show is people reaching out to us saying how they and their children are learning so much from the show. Even fourth-generation farmers have been in touch to tell us how they are loving our journey, so it seems to be resonating with so many different types of people.

Liz: The response has been brilliant. You would not believe how many children don’t know where an egg comes from.

What’s a typical day on the farm?

Kelvin: The kids tend to dictate that – especially the twins. So we’re up around 6am and then I do the school run around 8am, we check up on the animals and do farm work, then prioritise jobs for the rest of the day followed by the afternoon school run. Eat. Answer emails. Bed. Repeat.

What made you decide to do a Santa’s Village and what exciting things do you have in store for visitors?

Kelvin: This came about because a friend I went to school with has a successful children’s entertainment business. For the past few years he’s hosted a brilliant event in Oldham, which is where Liz and I are from. This year we have decided to work together. We really wanted to create an immersive and personal experience for everyone, with me and Liz greeting everyone and having all sorts of things ranging from a giant snow globe, the actual huge piano from the movie Big, mini Land Rovers for kids, as well as Santa along with his elves in the lodge.

Liz: We did a fab Easter trail this year and it went really well. So, we thought it would be perfect to team up with our friend to do this very special Christmas pop-up, which will allow us to showcase the wonderful elements of our farming life along with people embracing the festive spirit. It’s taken a lot of organising and we’ve been planning it since April/May. Kelvin: Our first weekend for Santa’s Village is December 2 and then we are open every weekend until December 18 when we open every day up to and including Christmas Eve.

How are you spending Christmas this year?

Kelvin: We are going to be all over the place, from the south coast, to Oldham to Cheshire. Like most families, we get around to see our relatives, which involves miles on the clock.

Liz: They say farmers never get a holiday and I understand that now because it’s always about getting back to the animals.

Fletchers’ Family Farm, series 1, can be streamed on ITVX. What is your favourite episode? Can we look forward to a second season?

Kelvin: The first episode is my favourite – we got such incredible feedback when it aired in October and that really was special. We are so proud of what we achieved and how authentic and informative it was – the highs and the lows. We showed everything. The viewing figures have been fantastic too but I can’t say anything about whether we are doing a second season yet.

Liz: I can’t pick a single episode, but for me, it’s when the kids are captured on film. It blows my mind to listen to the kids explaining their understanding of farming. Half the time, I think they’re not listening but they clearly are, and Marnie who was six at the time the series was filmed, articulated the difference between a sheep and a woman giving birth. Incredible.

What acting projects are coming up?

Kelvin: I filmed an episode of Father Brown back in May in the Cotswolds, which looks as if it may air in January. 

Liz: I finished playing Alex Burton in Hollyoaks earlier this year but farming is the focus at the moment.

Kelvin: You know if I’m not acting as I have a beard.

Liz: Yes, he’s acting if he has a moustache. The casting directors always seem to love Kelvin either clean-shaven or with a ’tache.

Great British Life: Kelvin (and moustache) on stage at the Royal National Theatre London, last year ion Jack Absolute Flies Again. Royal National TheatreKelvin (and moustache) on stage at the Royal National Theatre London, last year ion Jack Absolute Flies Again. Royal National Theatre

What have been your career highlights so far?

Kelvin: I’ve been so lucky – winning awards with Emmerdale, performing last year at the National Theatre was very special and, of course, winning Strictly Come Dancing in 2019.

Liz: For me any acting job is a highlight. But doing Fletchers’ Family Farm has been incredible for us.

Kelvin: Fletchers’ Family Farm as a family was, and is, wonderful. It’s very special to share this unusual but rewarding family journey with everyone. Also writing our book, Fletchers On The Farm, was fantastic. Even now, I read a chapter and think wow, I can’t believe we did that.

Liz: I’m so thankful that we didn’t go to California.

Kelvin: You’re welcome, Liz.

Liz: Yeah, thanks Kelvin... I’d much rather be in wellies than a bikini.

Kelvin turns 40 in January, how are you celebrating?

Liz: Kelvin is the romantic one and is such a good planner, he organised a surprise festival-style party for my 40th this year. Ithink that he could organise his 40th better than me and I can just turn up as a guest.

Kelvin: I’ve already got an early 40th birthday present from my mum and dad – a road sweeper vehicle, so the farm yard can look immaculate for Santa’s Village.

How do you both look after yourselves physically and mentally?

Kelvin: I’ve always trained but recently the farm, work and family have taken over so I’m mindful I need to address it and focus more on my health and fitness.

Liz: We have two young babies, a four-year-old and a seven-year-old. We have the farm and we are also trying to carve out our acting careers. We try to cram so much into 24 hours and while I would love to go to the gym there’s just not the time. But being outdoors is fantastic for us. If the kids are playing up, I get them outside straight away and it makes all the difference. My friend, Gemma Merna, got me into mediation. She completely changed my preconceived thoughts on what meditation is and showed me how easy it is to slot into the day. Gemma suggested meditating at bedtime and that’s what I do. I even use meditation to unwind the children, which helps them to sleep. It really helps me to reset. I love it.

What are your favourite Cheshire haunts?

Kelvin: Murray’s Sandwich Shop in Alderley Edge, Chelford Farm Supplies in Knutsford, and our back garden, which is the Cheshire part of the Peak District. It’s the most beautiful landscape ever.

Liz: Murray’s for me too. I also love Daniel Footwear in Alderley Edge. Finally, going for a walk, with a hot chocolate through the forest at The Edge in Alderley.

What advice would you give to your younger selves?

Liz: Trust the universe. If it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be.

Kelvin: This is difficult because even though I’ve been in the public eye since I was a kid I feel that growing up I still had my feet firmly on the ground. I would actually say to my younger self: treasure the moment because you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone..

Fletchers’ Family Farm Santa’s Village, Wincle, Macclesfield