Adrian Edmondson’s new six part series, Ade At Sea, follows his successful Ade in Britain series, which was a culinary road trip.
He may have been born in land-locked Bradford but Adrian Edmondson has always loved the sea.
“I fell in love with the sea about 30 years ago when I got my first boat,” says the comedian turned musician/TV presenter, who now lives in Devon with wife of 28 years, Jennifer Saunders.
It should come as no surprise then that his new series, which starts on ITV1 tomorrow, sees him sets sail to explore Britain’s maritime past, and discover how it continues to influence the lives of the people who still depend on the sea today.
“As a nation, we have an island mentality,” he notes. “The furthest you can get from the sea in Britain is only about 70-odd miles, so you’re never far.”
A fan of the ocean, he didn’t mind getting a dunking in the waters off Bridlington, a moment he hails as one of the highlights of filming, as he was being rescued by an RNLI helicopter.
“I was in an immersion suit so luckily it wasn’t too cold, but I’m a bit of a daredevil.”
Edmondson credits his father for instilling in him a sense of adventure.
“My dad was a geography teacher [in the armed forces] and I lived in Cyprus, Bahrain and Uganda as a child. The house was full of maps, so I think I’ve inherited some of that wanderlust.”
Edmondson’s three daughters share his passion for travel, although the eldest, Eleanor (there’s also Beatrice and Freya) is currently at home looking after her newborn and 18-month-old sons.
“I never wanted boys of my own, but now I’ve got two grandsons, it’s rather grand,” says Edmondson.
It’s only a matter of weeks before Edmondson will be heading off on his travels again, this time to Australia, where he will be touring with his band The Bad Shepherds, formed in 2008.
“I dearly love the band stuff, much more than I loved being a live comedian,” he says. But comedy is where it all began, after he met Rik Mayall at the University of Manchester. Calling themselves 20th Century Coyote, the pair became one of the star acts at The Comedy Store in London and, along with fellow upcoming comedians Saunders, Dawn French, Nigel Planer, Peter Richardson and Alexei Sayle, moved to The Comic Strip club. Their talent was clocked by Channel 4 which, in 1982, commissioned them to star in their own series, The Comic Strip Presents...
Sitcoms The Young Ones, about an anarchic group of student housemates, and Bottom, about two flatmates living on the dole, followed.
In recent years, Edmondson has moved away from comedy, choosing to focus on his documentary work instead, such as Ade in Britain and The Dales, about life in the Yorkshire Dales.
“I’ve done an awful lot in the years since and it [music and presenting] is the stuff I want to do more of from now on, it’s what I have more fun doing,” he says. “And I think, if you can, you should have as much fun as you can.”’
Edmondson and Saunders may have been married for 28 years but they’ve spent much of that time apart.
“It’s something we’ve known since we started going out with each other, because we were always touring, her with Dawn [French] and me with Rik [Mayall],” says Edmondson.
Ask him about his wife, who battled breast cancer in 2009, and the 57-year-old clams up. He says: “I think the reason our marriage has worked is because we won’t talk about it.”