Brand-New Series Devon & Cornwall Airs On More4
Grow Talk by Sofy Robertson
Images copyrighted to True North
A brand-new series titled Devon & Cornwall will be available to watch on More4 from Monday 1st April.
The series from production company True North follows a host of characters who reveal what it is really like to live and work in the far South West corner of Britain.
Together, Devon and Cornwall attract millions of visitors every year with their rolling moors, national parks and unique coastlines, but Devon & Cornwall demonstrates that these counties are “more than just a playground for holiday makers” (True North TV). The synopsis for the show explains:
“Many of our characters can trace their family history back centuries and consider themselves proud custodians of this unique corner of the UK. Others have made a choice to escape the hustle and bustle of metropolitan life and enjoy the laid-back lifestyle this part of the world offers.”
The eight-part series introduces viewers to Devonians and Cornish people from a range of backgrounds who work in some of Britain’s most traditional industries, including fishing and roof thatching.
What was it like to be part of the series?
Grow Talk caught up with some of the ‘characters’ involved in the Devon & Cornwall series to find out about their experience of going about their day-to-day lives on camera.
Master Thatcher Richard Dray who is featured in Devon & Cornwall’s first episode explains:
“I felt very flattered to be asked and jumped at the chance as I felt it was a great opportunity to give an insight into what we do as we’re often up high and the public struggle to get a good look. It’s also nice for people to see how lucky we are to work in such a beautiful part of the country.
“I’m not that comfortable in front of the camera but the film crew were a laugh which made filming easier. It was good fun.”
Jess Harris and Charlotte Whyte, whose floating restaurant Blue River Table is featured in Episode 3, say:
“Filming for the More4 Devon & Cornwall series was a completely new experience for us both. It was very interesting and fun being a part of something like this, especially as we are a new business so it felt a bit surreal having a camera crew with us on our first weeks of charter. We really loved meeting all of the crew and showing them Blue River Table and the local area.”
Steve Dustow, whose potato vodka distillery Colwith Farm is featured in Episode 6, explains:
“Working with Gareth and the team was great fun actually. They were genuinely interested in our process and quick to pick up on our deep-rooted understanding and passion for Cornish produce.
“It would be great if the show helps viewers understand how Colwith Farm Distillery differs from 99% of craft distilleries. Our ‘plough to bottle’ approach is very unique and something we are exceptionally proud of.”
Geoff Hockings of Hockings Ice Cream, who is featured in Episode 7 with his brother Neil, says:
“We all enjoyed our many hours filming with More4; it will be very interesting to see which pieces the production team decide to use. Most of all it was the reaction of our customers when they realised a film camera was pointed at them that we found fascinating. It was good that their shooting schedule coincided with our trip out to the local vintage rally with Granfers vintage van, where Neil met one of our first ever customers from 1936. It made us feel proud that 82 years on we were still trading.”
Boatbuilders Alex and Paul Mears, who we meet in the final episode of the series, also enjoyed the experience of being followed by the True North crew. Alex explains:
“Dad and I loved our experience of filming with True North productions for Devon & Cornwall. Coincidentally, we were on the Beeb today on Escape to the Country with Nicky Chapman. The two experiences were very different but both enjoyable.
“The True North film crew were very minimal with normally only two people on site; this allowed us to be more natural. They brought a drone to our boatyard on a couple of occasions which was fantastic because we were able to see our well used old yard from an entirely fresh perspective; and it looked very good!
“Trying to couple weather, specific work tasks, tide and their filming schedule was not easy but by all accounts, True North were happy with what they got from us.
“Dad and I are really happy to showcase the dying art of commercial wooden boatbuilding; it is a very traditional craft but it’s also one that needs to be relevant and to pay our wages, otherwise our boatyard and our careers wouldn’t survive! Our boatbuilding projects are not funded by grants or trusts; it is just us building boats the same way we have been since 1945. We have a good customer base and hopefully with the help of Devon & Cornwall we may pick up more appreciative wooden boat owners who welcome our keen eye for design, sustainability and longevity.”
A Sneak Peek
If you’re wondering whether your town or village might be featured, or whether someone you know might be popping up in one of the episodes (because everybody knows everybody in Devon and Cornwall, right?), take a look at the synopses below.
For the first episode, we’re in Clovelly with Devonian fisherman Stephen Perham who shows the audience what life is like in this tiny, perfectly preserved fishing village.
Stephen, whose family have lived and fished in the village for generations, is the harbour master, tour guide and bin man. Stephen has a novel approach to moving things up and down the main street which is too steep and narrow for cars: he pulls them along on a wooden sledge, greased with Devonian butter.
Clovelly’s owner, John Rous, joins the rest of the veteran rowing team as they take on ten neighbouring villages and towns in their annual regatta – a celebration of traditional ‘gig’ rowing.
We also meet fifth generation Master Thatcher Richard Dray in Cockington before moving on to Cornwall to see local handywoman Lynn Batten and champion beef breeders Bridgette and Steve Clamp who are preparing their cows for the Camborne agricultural show.
Back in Devon, we’re on horseback with the Alfords, one of the last farming families to tend Dartmoor’s wild ponies.
On the North Jurassic coast, local adventurers Mark Bullock and George Malkin take on the famous Black Church Rock – a spectacular climb that’s also a race against time to beat the tide.
In Cornwall, surfing pioneer Gwyn Haslock shows us where the UK wave-riding craze took hold in the 1960s and despite being a multiple champion and somewhat of a legend in his sport, what makes Gwyn proudest is calling this surfing mecca home.
In Poldark country, former miner Les Rowe makes a poignant return to the mine where he laboured years ago.
For Episode 3, we’re in South Cornwall on the waterways of Mylor Creek. Here, lifelong friends and mariners Jess Harris and Charlotte Whyte welcome diners aboard their custom-built floating restaurant.
Further East, diver and conservationist Rob Thompson leads a team of volunteers to sweep up the man-made rubbish that threatens the otherwise unspoilt coves around Lansallos, using kayaks recycled from collected plastic to explore both above and below the waves.
Moving on to the South edge of Dartmoor, sheep farmers Jess and Russell Steer prepare for their first trip to Devon’s historic Widecombe fair.
Finally, we meet farmer Cyril Cole near Exmoor, a man determined to give back to the land he once farmed by promoting and selling his wildflower-rich hay. We also meet the barn owl chick that he has hand reared back to health.
In beautiful Brixham, South Devon trawlerman Dave Driver sets out to sea on his boat ‘The Girl Debra’, in search of Cuttlefish. Dave and his crew undertake an eighteen-hour shift in pursuit of a good haul. Their job is one of the most dangerous occupations in Britain.
Meanwhile, Brixham’s harbourmaster Dave Bartlett takes countryside officer Noel Hughes out to Berry Head cliffs to help protect the South West’s largest mainland Guillemot colony.
On the northern edge of Dartmoor National Park, horseback farmers Crispin, Diana and Steve Alford are preparing to sell their ponies.
We meet Mark and Isobelle Delbridge on the southern edge of Bodmin Moor. The Delbridges are one of Cornwall’s youngest tenant farming couples and are determined to make a success of their new dairy farm.
In Clovelly, fisherman Stephen Perham is preparing for the most lucrative day of the year – the Clovelly Lobster Festival. The tight-knit community also prepares to welcome new residents, Sam Robins and her family, who have managed to bag one of the sea view fisherman’s cottages.
In Torquay, Harbourmaster Nick Burns prepares to receive the world’s largest residential cruise ship, as hundreds of its VIPs come ashore.
We meet estate agent turned market gardener, Stephen Keighley, in Cornwall, who is facing a big problem only six weeks into his venture.
Also in Cornwall, Aerobatic display pilot Corrine Dennis prepares to entertain at St Mawes boat show. She will pilot Tarquin, the aircraft she built after attaining her pilot’s license at the age of forty.
We visit the tidal island of St Michaels Mount, West Cornwall, to meet Boatman Josh Sedgeman and gardener Darren Little.
Things are getting boozy in Lanlivery, Cornwall, as potato farmer Steve Dustow has developed a vodka distillery using his home grown spuds.
We nip back to Clovelly to see fisherman Stephen Perham who is anticipating his favourite time of year – herring season.
In Dartmoor National Park, Lucy Atkins is helping friend and fellow explorer Fi Darby celebrate her fiftieth birthday as the pair plan a camping expedition in the only place in England that you can legally wild camp.
We visit the Isles of Scilly to watch florist and grower Paul Whittaker leave terra firma along with lifelong friend Joe Pinder as the pair embark on a search for blue sharks, supporting global research on the mysterious and threatened creatures.
At the edge of Dartmoor National Park, in the Teign Valley, woodman John Williamson has taken on a new apprentice in Jordan Harris. Today, the pair are in a forest clearing, making a batch of charcoal that they hope to sell to local restaurants.
We visit St Marys on the Isles of Scilly where Charlotte Hicks has returned to her place of birth to become the islands’ one and only midwife.
On the English Riviera, we meet Torquay’s harbour master, Nick Burns, who needs to replace a 140-metre section of the harbour that will help protect the millions of pounds worth of yachts berthing here in the winter months.
On Devon’s north coast in the fishing village of Appledore, Geoff Hocking and his brother Neil are continuing their family’s ice cream business, which has been going strong since 1936.
We journey to the Isles of Scilly to meet vineyard owner Val Thomas who has come up with a plan to attract tourists in the winter, as well as the summer. She’s raising funds to build an observatory and take advantage of the clear night skies enjoyed all year round on the islands.
In South East Devon, boat builders Paul Mears and son Alex take on their latest project – the ambitious conversion of a motorised clinker into a traditional Beer lugger, the local fishing boat powered by the wind.
In St Austell, Cornishman Mark Rudge is travelling the county to relieve farmers of their unwanted apples; he’s beginning to turn a profit while keeping a proud Cornish tradition alive.
We travel to Teignmouth on South Devon’s coast where mussel farmers Barry and Matt Sessions plan to harvest their mussels further out to sea after they lost nearly 70 tonnes worth of shellfish due to greedy gulls last year.
Finally, in Crediton and Mid Devon, geologist Kevin Page is planning to travel to a unique stretch of coastline that is so rich in fossils, it has an entire geological time period named in its honour: the Devonian period.