Bradford-born actor explores Britain’s maritime history

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Ade Edmondson presenting The Dales Ade Edmondson presenting The Dales

Bradford-born Ade Edmondson is all at sea in his latest TV adventure, which sees him being rescued by a helicopter off the Yorkshire coast.

The comic, actor, musician and TV presenter, 57, started out on the alternative comedy scene in the 1980s but in recent years has moved away from comedy, focusing instead on documentary work with TV programmes such as Ade In Britain and The Dales.

Now he’s fronting a new six-part series called Ade At Sea.

“I fell in love with the sea about 30 years ago when I got my first boat,” he said, describing it as an “unsinkable 16ft dinghy”.

The new series sees Ade setting sail to explore Britain’s maritime past, and discover how it continues to influence the lives of people who still depend on the sea today.

“As a nation, we have an island mentality,” he said. “The furthest you can get from the sea in Britain is only about 70-odd miles, so you’re never far.”

The series sees him getting a dunking in the waters off Bridlington and being rescued by an RNLI helicopter.

“It’s quite a weird experience, getting into a harness in the middle of the sea with a chopper above you, you feel like you’re in an action movie,” he said.

He credits his father, a former Bradford teacher, for instilling in him a sense of adventure.

“My dad was a geography teacher. The house was full of maps, I think I’ve inherited some of that wanderlust.”

His three daughters share his passion for travel, although the eldest 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,” said Ade.

This year sees him heading off on his travels again, to Australia, touring with his folk punk band, The Bad Shepherds.

“I dearly love the band stuff, much more than I loved being a live comedian,” he said. “It’s a much more pleasurable experience. I like comedy, but it’s an exercise in crowd control and it’s quite aggressive. Music is about going into a room and all meeting in the middle.”

Comedy is where it all began, after he met Rik Mayall at Manchester University.

As a double act, they became a hit at the Comedy Store in London, and along with fellow upcoming comedians Jennifer Saunders (Ade’s wife of 28 years), Dawn French, Nigel Planer, Peter Richardson and Alexei Sayle, formed The Comic Strip club. In 1982 Channel 4 commissioned their own series, The Comic Strip Presents.

Sitcoms The Young Ones and Bottom followed.

  • Ade At Sea begins on ITV on Thursday, March 20.

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