Former Corrie legend Amanda Barrie, experiences life on board a narrow boat along with fomer deputy prime minister, Lord John Prescott and three other famous faces in Celebrity 5 Go Barging...
When it comes to boats, former Coronation Street star Amanda Barrie is the first to admit she hasn’t a clue!
However the 83-year-old actress, best known for playing ex Weatherfield favourite Alma Sedgewick, is always game for a challenge and jumped at the chance to team up with four other famous faces; fellow actress Anita Harris, broadcaster Michael Buerk, ex EastEnders star Shaun Williamson and former deputy prime-minister, Lord John Prescott, to explore the UK’s waterways by barge for a new four-part series.
Here Amanda, who’s also appeared in ITV comedy Benidorm and took part in last year’s Celebrity Big Brother, tells us about watery mis-haps, her must-have travel items, dream travel companions and why she always seems to bond with eccentric politicians!…
TV Times talks to Amanda Barrie
TV Times: What appealed to you most about taking part?
Amanda Barrie: “I like doing reality shows but when this one came along I thought, ‘Ooh, I’m really not sure barging is my cup of tea.’ But then I heard who else was taking part and I thought, ‘Why not, it will be an adventure!’ I’ve half-known Anita for a long time and knew we would have a great time together.”
TVT: What were the group dynamics like?
AM: “We immediately bonded over having to do all practical stuff. It’s not like everyone meeting and having a polite dinner party, everyone has got to muck in, hammering in things, tying up ropes and then of course living together on the barges. Anita and I were on one boat and the boys were on the other. We all had such a laugh together and became a proper little family.”
TVT: What was it like being on the narrow boat day-to-day?
AM: “I just fell in love with it. Pottering along at 4 mph you really get to take in the sights and scenery. We went from Staffordshire to Stratford-upon-Avon and were surrounded by wonderful wildlife. At one point about 20 swans all gathered round our barge poking their heads over the side, they were so beautiful. I also loved the sense of achievement you get when you’ve gone into the lock perfectly or you’ve turned a corner perfectly. You go, ‘We did it!’”
TVT: How did being on a barge with a group of strangers compare to being holed up in Celebrity Big Brother with a group of strangers?
AM: “I obviously have a penchant for making friends with rather eccentric politicians. I got on with Anne Widdecombe on Celebrity Big Brother and then John in this. I seem to have a soft spot for them. John is a complete one-off, he’s a mixture of being a little boy and a brilliant man. You’re never quite sure which one you’re going to get.”
TVT: How did you find sharing a cabin with Anita?
AM: “We had a wondeful time together and actually the barge was perfectly comfortable to sleep in. Being in this business, Anita and I have had to share dressings room with all kinds of people, we’ve been in long runs of shows, done lots of travelling about and a lot of mucking in, so actually a narrow boat was easy to get used to.
“Although I have to say you’d need to watch your weight because if you were too large you’d never be able to pass eachother in the corridor. We did do a lot of ‘Oops, sorry, oops, oh dear!’ going up and down the narrow corridor. Because she’s so slim that was fine. Thankfully neither of has large bosoms otherwise it would be more problematic squeezing past eachother!”
TVT: You were away for two weeks. Were there any watery mishaps?
AM: “I managed to throw my sunglasses in the canal while making a grand gesture. And when it came to steering I have to say the girls were completely and utterly better than the boys. The boys made a terrible mess of it in the beginning despite two of them actually owning boats. They had a few bumps and scrapes and Mr Prescott, who used to be in the Navy, was definitely not a natural!”
TVT: What are your must have travel items?
AM: “I always have to take my special hairbrush wherever I go. I have the most peculiar hair and if don’t use it I end up looking like Worzel Gummidge. I also take my radio because I like falling asleep to Radio 4 and my two travelling cuddly toy rabbits. They make me feel at home wherever I am.”
TVT: Who would your dream holiday companions be?
AB: “Noel Coward, I think he would have made me laugh a lot. I did once know his boyfriend. And obviously Hilary (Amanda’s wife Hilary Bonner) and our best friend Christopher. And I think Sandi Toksvig would be a great companion. I don’t know her that well but I always find her funny and I think we’d have a great laugh together.”
Celebrity 5 Go Barging starts on Channel 5 on Friday 19 July at 5pm