North Londonresident Timothy Bentinck talks of his life on The Archers and the cold nights in a campervan that inspired his latest venture as a children’s author

When Timothy Bentinck applied for a part in The Archers, he had no idea the show would remain as popular as it has; 33 years later he continues to play David Archer (pictured in character above with Felicity Finch, who plays Ruth Archer) on the iconic radio soap, which now in its 65th year still exceeds five million listeners a day. Though Timothy is the first to admit that he was lucky to land a part that will keep him in a job for the rest of his life, he is, by no means, satisfied with radio acting alone. His CV reads like a career advisor’s ring binder: having dabbled in everything from computer programming to guitar playing to house renovation, the Islington resident has just recently added the moniker of ‘children’s author’ to his list of accomplishments.

Now in the process of writing the second in his Colin the Campervan children’s series, Timothy didn’t start out with high expectations of this project. ‘I first wrote it as a story for my children,’ he tell me, ‘we had an old campervan, which didn’t have a heater. We froze to death in it and it kept breaking down. So I wrote it as a wish-fulfilment sort of thing, I turned it into a “supervan”.’

The Resident: Timothy Bentinck has starred in The Archers for the last 33 yearsTimothy Bentinck has starred in The Archers for the last 33 years

When his boys outgrew the story, the file sat on Timothy’s computer for nearly two decades. Then, when e-readers began to appear, he re-formatted the story and put it online, ‘never really thinking any more of it’. It was not long after that Timothy received a call from a publishing house. They’d found the story on his website and told him they wanted it; once Timothy began to receive ideas for illustrations, Colin the Campervan quickly became a reality and he realised that the book would need some updating. ‘Twenty years ago, the sort of things that went into making a supervan were very different from today,’ he admits with a smile.

Having shared a large portion of his life with the campervan that inspired the story, Timothy sees a certain charm in old vehicles. As somebody who has maintained one acting role for so long, he certainly seems to value holding on to the things that work for him. Having lived in his Islington home for over 30 years, he sees it as a ‘fifth member of the family’ and can’t imagine leaving any time soon. ‘We moved here because my sister used to live on Vincent Terrace in Islington and I used to come and visit her. I completely love it. What more could you want? There are so many restaurants around,’ he says ‘there’s the cinema too, and the whole of the West End right on our doorstep.’

While acting remains a huge part of Timothy’s life, London will always be home. He might be a country boy at heart, but with his career showing no signs of stopping, for the time being he’s staying put. ‘You’ve got to do as much as you can as an actor, because nothing lasts forever,’ he says. With such a great many theatre, film and television credits to his name, the mantra is one that clearly resonates with him. Off screen, he is eager to keep working on his writing; with a second Colin the Campervan on the way and an autobiography in the works, this multi-tasker shows no signs of slowing.

The Resident: Colin the Campervan is the latest string to Timothy Bentinck’s bowColin the Campervan is the latest string to Timothy Bentinck’s bow

WORDS Fergus Ewbank

Colin the Campervan is out now, through FBS Publishing, £5.99