Lynda Bellingham: ‘I spend my whole life on the road’

Lynda Bellingham tells TV Times magazine about her new ITV show Country House Sunday, and why she loves travelling the highways and byways of Great Britain…

You’ve travelled around the UK for ITV show Tasty Travels, and toured the country for a stage version of Calendar Girls. And now you’re now packing your bags again for Country House Sunday…
“We do have a lot of fun. My husband Michael [Pattemore aka Mr Spain] always comes with me and we pile up the car with everything I need. With the weather we’ve been having that’s everything from summer dresses and lovely little shoes – rather optimistic I know as it’s snowing here right now – to my thermals and wellies!”

Did you enjoy making Tasty Travels?
“We were on the road for nearly three months, moving every two days to a new location, which was quite a feat in Batty [VW Camper] as he only went 30 miles an hour. But with Country House Sunday it won’t be quite as strenuous – I hope!”

In the show, you meet the families that own these magnificent stately homes while having a good old nosey at the daily running of the house, both upstairs and downstairs…
“It’s the Downton Abbey effect isn’t it? I can’t wait to go behind the scenes and see both ends of the spectrum, so not just the posh bit, but how people at the other end live too. Also, what I loved about Tasty Travels was meeting the public because we have got so many interesting people in this country. I am hoping to meet a few eccentrics because they are always fun to listen to.”

Your first trip takes you to Renishaw Hall in North Derbyshire, which has been in the Sitwell family for 400 years…
“I do my research so I know the history of each house and I can ask reasonably intelligent questions. The Sitwells were an arty lot in the 1920s and 30s, Edith, Osbert and Sacheverell Sitwell all wrote books and poetry so that should be very interesting.

“It will also be good to meet the younger generations. I often think it must be a real pain in the neck because you are constantly on show. It’s a bit like being an animal in the zoo, you can’t curl up on the sofa with your Xbox with the public trooping through and peering at you.”

Is your husband, Michael (Lynda’s third), always with you on the road?
“The way my life has gone in the last five years since we got married we have spent the whole time on the road. It would be ridiculous if he didn’t come with me because there would have been no point in us getting married.”

Do you know the best places to go all over the UK now?
“We have really cracked it now – we know where all the hotels are and where all the nice little restaurants are. I am a great believer in you just have to go where the work is. It is so sad that so many of our theatres are closing down because they are part of our heritage. By going on the road a lot of people get to see stuff and really appreciate the fact that you bring out a production, plenty of people can’t get to the West End and pay those prices.”

We also hear you’ve been working on a new novel!
“Yes. It’s a real saga spanning from 1910 to 1966 about four generations of women who all have illegitimate daughters. It’s about how society has changed and what happens to them and how it affects each daughter. I have really enjoyed writing it and can’t wait to get out on the road and see what people think of it.”

Can you ever imagine not doing this job?
“I suppose there will come a time when I can’t travel – it’s not like I’m a young thing any more! But as long as I’m fit, and I enjoy it, and Michael can come with me then I am happy.”