“When my first son was a toddler, I came up with the idea of a ‘ledge’ to support him on my hip. In 1986 I filed a patent for the baby carrying device called ‘The Hippo’, it very nearly made me rich, but it didn’t happen!”
Fans of BBC Radio 4’s drama The Archers, one of the longest running soaps in the world, will be thrilled to know that David Archer will be making an appearance at the Gibunco Gibraltar Literary Festival.
Well, it is in fact Timothy Bentinck, the actor behind his fictional alter-ego who has played the part of David Archer since 1982 and who will be in conversation with Nick Higham talking about his autobiography ‘Being David Archer – And Other Unusual Ways of Earning a Living’.
Unlike the everyday stories of farming folk, Tim’s life has been extraordinary, although there is one similarity in that he was born on a sheep farm, albeit in Tasmania.
Wondering why he decided to write his memoirs, Tim replies that it was simply that he was asked to by a literary agent. “He came out of the blue and said have you ever thought of writing an autobiography and funnily enough I’d already written about 23,000 words,” he explains. One of the reasons Tim was inspired to start writing about his life was because of his father, Henry Bentinck who spent the last seven years of his life writing his autobiography and unfortunately died before it was complete. “I didn’t want to let that happen to me, and the second thing was that if you Google me on IMDb, the international movie database, the top listing says that I provided the voice for the Conjoined Gnome Left in the animated film Gnomeo and Juliet – because it was the highest-grossing thing I’d ever done and that’s how they determine your listing, so I decided I wanted to put the record straight.”
His autobiography is a rollercoaster ride through an acting career that has encompassed West End musicals (he was the Pirate King in Pirates of Penzance), thousands of TV and radio commercials, corporate voice work, talking books and computer games as well as several TV and film roles. Tim has also written a biography about his father and is the author of Colin the Campervan, a book for children that he wrote as a bedtime story when his two boys, William and Jasper, were small. “It sat on my computer for about 25 years and then I put it on Kindle where it was found by a small publisher.” The story follows the fortunes of a VW camper van, much like the one the family spent their holidays in, brought to life with delightful illustrations by Owen Claxton. “I’ve written the sequel which is a full length book and I’m currently looking for a publisher,” Tim mentions.
Truth can be stranger than fiction and it turns out that Tim is actually the 12th Earl of Portland, a peerage inherited by his father from distant cousin. Tim tells me that it came without any estate or income, but his father wanted to be able to stand up in the House of Lords and get his ecological views across. “When my father died I took my seat in the House of Lords in 1997, and it was great when it happened, but a title doesn’t define me.” Last year, the man behind the ‘Mind the Gap’ announcement on London Underground’s Piccadilly line was also made an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to drama.
Ever resourceful, Tim has turned his hand to many skills over the years, from travel journalism to website construction, and in response to what his favourite job has been along the way he replies that he loves making and inventing things. “When my first son was a toddler, I came up with the idea of a ‘ledge’ to support him on my hip. In 1986 I filed a patent for the baby carrying device called ‘The Hippo’, it very nearly made me rich, but it didn’t happen!” Tim is also a bit of a computer whiz and wrote some software when he was younger that at one point was the highest selling piece of shareware on the internet. “In one way or another I’ve been very close to huge success in my life,” he laughs.
“I also love writing music and playing the guitar. Before I decided I wanted to be an actor, I used to really enjoy driving trucks and drove tourists round America, sold Mercedes cars in Morocco, got an HGV licence and a job delivering lorry loads of chocolate to South Wales.”
With so many accomplishments under his belt, does Tim have any unfulfilled ambitions? “I’ve always said that I would like to play James Bond – I’m fit, I’m willing and ready to go – but at the age of 67 I think I may be too old!”
There’s much more to find out about Timothy Bentinck that can’t be fitted in here, so book your tickets and make a date in your diaries to see him on Saturday 16th November at 10.00 in The Convent.
Gibraltar Insight Magazine is proud to be a sponsor of the Gibunco Gibraltar International Literary Festival 2019.
The speakers mentioned above are just a small selection from a full programme. More information about all the speakers and booking online for The Gibunco Gibraltar Literary Festival can be found on www.gibraltarliteraryfestival.com