Article from the 15-21 June 1996 Radio Times
Submitted by Cheryl

My Day

"We live in the Somerset countryside in a flint-built manor house that dates back to the 17th century. Watching the seasons go by is a joy."

I have two very different kinds of day. One is away on location with all the rigours of a tightly scheduled 12-week shoot. The other is at home with the family in the Somerset countryside. After a long period of hectic filming it's always hard to adjust to a more tranquil lifestyle. Last year I was home quite a lot, but the year before I only got back for three months.

We live in a beautiful place, so watching the seasons go by is a joy. My mother came from the East End of London but I was brought up in the West Country. As a young actor, London was the place to be-you didn't get much work strolling around Dartmoor – and, as agents are fond of telling you, "One's availability is one's greatest asset." But I got to the point when I was rarely working in London so, after nearly 20 years in the city, we decided to move out seven years ago. My son Oliver, who is now 20, was at school in Somerset so we found somewhere not far away. There's a decent train service to London from Taunton, but I usually drive. The other day it took me two hours to get to Chiswick – and then another two hours to the West End.

We've got a typical flint-built manor house that dates back to the 17th century. It used to have a hundred acres but thafs been reduced to five. We're surrounded by farmland, grow our own vegetables and the nearest village is two miles away. Friends call my wife Jo “the chatelaine of the pile” and, though she is a painter and a sculptor, she spends most of her time looking after the house and the family.

There's stabling for five horses – the people who were here before bred Arabs – but now the geese live in one, I have a sort of gym in another and the rest is for storage. Then there are our two dogs – Star and Mabel, black labrador refuse collectors who eat anything – two geese (Gandy and his girifriend) and ducks which breed like rabbits. I find ducks thoroughly selfish creatures, but I like the geese, though we're still waiting for them to produce goslings. I'm afraid Gandy isn't very good at it – he falls off. But he's a great guard and he'll sink his beak into your bum if he gets half a chance.

I'm up at about 7.30am (I envy people who can lay in and not feel guilty) and our daughter Becky, who's 14, is off to school by 7.45. She likes to be in early and works very hard. Jo gets up later – we're ships that pass in the night (well, the afternoon, actually). A couple of times a week I go straight off to a great gym just outside Taunton, otherwise I'm out with the dogs for a morning ritual round the boundaries to see what's fallen down. It's a good time for line-learning out loud, which can be a bit disconcerting for anybody who bumps into me.

The postman honks his horn as he drives up the lane at 11.30am and I'll retreat to the study to get the mail and the phone calls done. Lunch is usually a hot, succulent pastie – every week I get a dozen of my favourites from the Honiton dairy – and there's always plenty to do in the grounds or the garden in the afternoon. At 5pm I'll lay a log fire and chat to Becky when she gets home, though she tends to be monosyllabic. Jo usually does the evening meal – she's a wonderful, instinctive cook. Then I might go to the pool table with Oliver, watch TV (we're avid followers of EastEnders), smoke a cigarette (it's stupid, I know, but I've smoked since I was a choirboy of 11) and hit the sack by 10.30pm. I'm out like a light and can't wait for the morning. As Scarlett O'Hara so rightly put it, "Tomorrow is another day".

© 1996 David Gillard for The Radio Times

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