What do celebrities love about the Somerset seaside?
- Credit: Bob King
We know we love our coast, but what do the celebs make of it? We find out...
“I like the pier,” says comedy star John Cleese who was born in Weston-super-Mare. “Growing up by the sea was fantastic and I have loved the sea ever since. At Weston there was more to it than the sea and the beaches, it was the whole holiday thing. You could not help getting caught up in it because all around you were happy people, ice-cream, donkeys and, of course, the pier.
“We used to go to the theatre at various times of the year so we saw some of the great stars in summer shows as well as pantos. “I have travelled a fair bit in my time and seen many places but I have never grown out of my lover and appreciation for Weston-super-Mare.”
Another comedy star, Jethro, is also a great champion of Somerset and its marvellous coastline.
“I have been visiting the Somerset coast all my life,” he says. “I love it because it fits all moods. If you want to just go for a walk and clear your mind there are countless beaches and coves where you can have a stroll and hardly bump into anyone. On the other hand if you want some fun and a decent bag of chips then there are plenty of places in the actual resorts. It really is all things for all people and all circumstances. It doesn’t matter what time of the year it is either, it’s just a great place to be.”
Mary Berry also has a soft spot for the coast and loved her trips to the Somerset seaside when she was a girl.
“I think we all love the seaside,” she says. “Perhaps it is because we are an island race and even in the very middle of the country it is not that far to get to the coast. I know that as a girl we used to go to the seaside and I always had a marvellous time and great memories.
“That first glimpse of the actual sea is always a magical moment. Even when the weather is stormy it is still fascinating and I have always felt drawn towards it, like an old friend. The Somerset coast is quite diverse, has wonderful wildlife and some very good restaurants too. There’s nowhere better.”
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FI former world champion Jenson Button was born in Frome and was also attracted to the Somerset coastline.
“I was always very active when I was young,” he recalls. “I liked to read and all that sort of thing but mostly I liked to be out and about on my bike and then karting and so on so I didn’t like to sit still for very long. That is why I liked the seaside and the Somerset coast. If you are an active sort of person you can do so many different things. It is a great coastline for walking but also for jogging, cycling, horse riding and wind-surfing. You can make your own fun without going anywhere near one of the main resorts, yet when you do go to one of those places you can have a lot of fun on the rides, the piers and just being around all those great colourful lights and the whole seaside holiday or day trip experience. It’s just a great area.”
Tony Blackburn, still Britain’s favourite radio DJ, went to school at Millfield but he still has memories of the Somerset coast.
“While I was at Millfield my parents used to visit twice a term and we would have a family outing to Cheddar Gorge, which was beautiful and I still love it,” he reveals.
“There were other trips though and often they were to the coast. Millfield was OK and Cheddar Gorge has always been fantastic but I was always drawn by the sea and the Somerset coast really was a breath of fresh air.
“The seaside resorts are such fun and the whole coastline has both beauty and a wild side that is all part of its unique attraction. Yes, I do love to be beside the seaside, especially in Somerset.”
Of course, the Somerset coast is a great area for exploration and there are probably no finer explorers than Sir Ranulph Fiennes who became familiar with the area when he and his late wife, Ginny, ran a country farm, estate on Exmoor.
“I have had trips to the coast in Somerset and always found it very stimulating,” he says. “The coastline is quite variable which makes it always interesting and there is an abundance of wildlife, which adds greatly to its charm. “I think it is one of those areas to which people would go back time and time again because you can never take it all in with just one trip. You can walk for miles and never get bored with it and when you have walked enough and your feet are starting to tell you that they have had enough, well you can always cool off with a paddle. Lovely area.”
Irish comedian Jimmy Cricket has been to Weston-super-Mare so many times that he even thought of moving there.
“I love the place,” he says. “Every time i appear at The Playhouse I like to get there early and have a walk around the town or a little drive up and down the coast. It is so beautiful and such fun.
“It is a very welcoming resort, even the donkeys seem to smile at you. I did seriously consider moving to Weston. The trouble is that my work takes me all over the place so I really need to be around the middle of the country.
“Can I tell you a little secret? Come closer to the page...I once had something stolen in Weston. I was shocked. I made this sand castle on the beach and when I went back to it first thing the next morning someone had stolen it! There are some funny people about but there are some great people too and you can find nearly all of them at the seaside in Somerset.”
In demand actor James Purefoy has never forgotten his Somerset roots nor has he forgotten his trips to the coast.
“I was born and bred in Somerset and I still follow Yeovil football so Somerset means a lot to me,” he reveals. “We used to have trips to the coast as I was growing up and I always had a great time. Somerset has it all; great towns, great countryside and, of course, a great coastline with everything you could want – it can be peaceful, it can be wild, you can walk and run or you can just sit and relax and watch the world go by. Somerset ice-cream is pretty good to.”
So the stars foretell – there is always a great time to be had on our coast. Yes, Somerset puts the Somer into summer.