How do these 10 Somerset celebrities celebrate Christmas in the county?
PUBLISHED: 11:20 21 December 2017 | UPDATED: 11:20 21 December 2017
Some of the county’s most famous fans spoke with Bernard Bale about Somerset at Christmas time
...the Queen of Baking was born in Bath and has fond memories of the cosy smell of cooking coming from the family kitchen.
“There was always the smell of baking on a Sunday, but at Christmas time it was even better,” she says.
“You have the wonderful aromas of turkey, vegetables, puddings all combining to create an atmosphere that is unique to that special day.
“My mother was always busy in the kitchen and delighted in making sure that everyone had more than enough of their favourite things. There is something lovely about seeing people sitting around the table enjoying the meal and each other’s company. That is a special Somerset at Christmas memory for me – everyone should experience it.”
...still likes to get back to Somerset as often as his busy schedule allows.
“I was born in Frome and grew up there and I still love it. Whenever I go back it’s mostly just the same as when I was growing up – full of character and friendly people, especially at Christmas time. It is great to see all the shops in festive mode.
“I have very happy memories of my childhood and teen years in Frome and especially at Christmas. Somerset towns really get into the festive spirit and I would be happy to spend a long Christmas break back home every year.”
...is a Londoner by birth and currently lives in Wiltshire, but became a Somerset fan after spending last Christmas playing the villain in the Bath Theatre Royal’s pantomime, Jack and the Beanstalk.
“Yes, I was Fleshcreep, a wonderful name for a villain and I love it,” says Nigel. “Every actor wants to be a bad guy now and then. It is much more fun being bad, stomping onto the stage and being met with a wall of boos.
“The trouble is that Bath at Christmas is just fantastic. It is such an historic city and when it is dressed for Christmas it looks stunning and creates a marvellous feeling of joy and happiness. So there was I feeling really happy at being in Bath, but then having to go on stage and be really horrible. It tested me as an actor but I got enough boos to show that it worked!
“I hope to be back in Bath again one Christmas – or just to visit, it is very special.”
Captain Heather Stanning
...has been all over the world rowing her way to Olympic Gold Medals as well as pursuing her army career, but she has never forgotten her Yeovil roots.
“I remember Christmas in Somerset as being really fun, really happy with the shops looking great and everyone wanting to have a good time. I suppose it is community spirit and that is very strong in Somerset, a great place to spend Christmas.”
...is often in demand to turn on Christmas lights and he likes nowhere better than Somerset, the county he calls home to switch on the festive spirit.
“I was born here – in Weston-super-Mare – and Christmas was always a fantastic time.
We were theatre goers and the local pantomime was something I always used to look forward to. I used to be taken to Knightstone Theatre by my parents and panto was always larger than life and encouraged such a brilliant audience reaction, lots of booing and hissing, singing and cheering and non-stop laughter. Somerset people have always launched themselves into having fun and Christmas time is the peak of the year. I have always loved it.”
...is known for his role in Black Books as well as his extensive stand up career which has seen him tour internationally is very much in touch with his Somerset roots.
“Yes, I am a Somerset lad born and bred,” he said. “I was born in Bath and much of my early years were in Keynsham. I have never forgotten those great growing up days and I still love Somerset.
At Christmas time there is so much to do – special steam railway trips, theatre shows, ice rinks and Santa Claus all over the place – I don’t know how he gets around so quickly. There’s no place like Somerset at Christmas.”
...successfully made the transition from tennis star to TV presenter and he also made the transition from being born in Surrey to falling in love with Somerset.
“I was born in the Epsom area but when I was still young we moved and ran a fish and chip shop in Taunton. I went to Beehive Primary School.
I have very fond memories of growing up in Taunton and especially of Christmas time. There was always a great festive celebration and when people came into the shop they were really buzzing about Christmas. I think that is one of the lovely things about the area – people get involved. Christmas in Somerset was always great.”
...another of our busiest acting stars, Rupert Graves, is still a big fan of Weston-super-Mare, where he was born.
“I have travelled all over the place, but Somerset and especially Weston-super-Mare is very special to me. Growing up was great and Christmas was brilliant.
“As a seaside resort, Weston is always exciting, but as a kid at Christmas it was like being in Wonderland.
I still think it is the right place to be at Christmas, back with your roots. Work makes that very difficult of course, but I cannot go through a Christmas without thinking of those happy days in Somerset. I’m always thrilled to return.”
...the EastEnders star is returning to Bath Theatre Royal to play Nursie in this year’s panto, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and he is delighted.
“I just love being in Bath at Christmas time. I have been before at other times of the year and also in panto and I think it is fabulous. I love the Christmas market and my wife is coming with me this year, so I am sure we shall be getting round all the shops as well the Pump Room which is just lovely and one of my favourite places.
“I have appeared in many pantomimes all over the country but Somerset and especially Bath is so special. I can’t wait, I’m really excited about it.”
...is another Somerset-born peformer with an incredible acting pedigree. He regularly returns to the county to visit family in Crewkerne.
“I love coming back to Somerset,” he says.
“I was born in Taunton, grew up in Martock, worked as a porter for a while at Yeovil Hospital and I am never more happy than when I am back in the county I love.
It is even better at Christmas. There is a great sense of belonging among the people of Somerset and they are always friendly and welcoming. I think that comes to the fore at Christmas.”
I cannot think of any place I would rather be for the festive season than among my family and friends in beautiful Somerset.”