TIMOTHY BENTINCK, the voice of Dave Archer in The Archers, recalls coastal adventures in his beloved campervan – the inspiration for his new children’s book. Interview: Alex Reece

We had a VW Type 2 campervan, and I used it to save on hotel bills. As The Archers is recorded in Birmingham and I live in London, I used to drive the van there when we were recording a few episodes at a time and park it in a field just across the road from Pebble Mill – and live in it.

The van was cold, rusty and unreliable. My wife hated it because it was freezing – you had to scrape the ice off the inside. The book Colin the Campervan was a sort of wish fulfilment. I wrote it 20 years ago, when our sons were aged about 10 and six. I used to say to them, ‘Wouldn’t it be fun if we could turn it into a supercar?’ So that’s what I wrote the book about.

I’m a great coast fan, and there are a few places that spring to mind, with regard to the campervan. The first was with friends from Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. We put two surfboards on the top and headed down to Biarritz in France, and we parked up in the woods just behind the beach. We really lived out the surfer dude dream.

I recall another time in Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire, when we parked our van there. I was sitting on the edge of the cliff with my legs dangling over the edge, looking at the sunset, and it was like a theatrical performance – the clouds were just right, the sun and sky mingled. As the sun went down, and its final rays disappeared, I remember sitting there with my wife and two boys clapping, because it was so beautiful.

The other coastline that’s very familiar to us – because we’ve got a cottage up in Norfolk that we live in half the time – is Holkham Beach. That’s a wonderful place. Even when the car park is packed, it’s such a big beach you can still be alone. In the summer we swim and sunbathe; in the winter we get horizontal snow and hail coming at us. All of it’s wonderful. They’re the best walks in the world up there. 

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'The other coastline that’s very familiar to us is Holkham Beach. That’s a wonderful place. Even when the car park is packed, it’s such a big beach you can still be alone'