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Archers star backs culture bid

PUBLISHED: 18:00 19 May 2010 | UPDATED: 16:38 01 July 2010

Archers star Tim Bentinck

Archers star Tim Bentinck

The co-owner of one of the country's most famous family farms has given his backing to Norwich's bid to become the UK's first ever City of Culture in 2013.

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Official Norwich 2013 bid website

Archers star Tim Bentinck

The co-owner of one of the country's most famous family farms has given his backing to Norwich's bid to become the UK's first ever City of Culture in 2013.

Tim Bentinck plays David Archer in The Archers - the world's longest running radio soap - and soap in any format - which has been entertaining BBC radio listeners since the first pilot series in 1950.

Since then there have been more than 16,000 episodes of the show which features the rural goings on of the folk of Ambridge with one of the main focal points being Brookfield Farm which is co-owned by David and his wife Ruth.

But with the village in the middle of the fictional county of Borsetshire which is set in Midlands - where the programme is recorded - it might come as a surprise to some that Mr Bentinck has come out in support of Norwich instead of one of the other shortlisted cities - Birmingham.

Mr Bentinick, a former University of East Anglia student, said that he did not want to “diss” Birmingham, but added that Norwich was, for him, the natural choice to support.

He said: “The fact that I work in Birmingham, they are not going to like it that I've supported Norwich. It's mainly because I was at university there and I've got a cottage in Norfolk and we've got family in Norfolk so I'm a Norfolk boy at heart. My whole introduction to the very idea of culture was doing History of Art at the UEA.”

Mr Bentinck said when he came back to Norfolk he visited Norwich and had many fond memories of the city where he saw David Bowie during his Ziggy Stardust incarnation in the mid 1970s.

He said: “I've always had a soft spot for Norwich. When I was at university there we were doing theatre all over the place and always got good audiences and good support for it so we've always thought the place to be a city of culture.”

The title is being contested by Norwich, Birmingham, Sheffield and Derry/Londonderry. Each shortlisted city has just until May 21 to submit their final bid for the title. The bids must deliver a high quality cultural programme that can be a worthy successor to Liverpool's year as European Capital of Culture in 2008 and the Cultural Olympiad in 2012.

The endorsement from Mr Bentinck follows praise for the city from a number of stars including Delia Smith, Christopher Biggins, and another theatre favourite, Simon Callow CBE, who, said Norwich was “second to none” in terms of its “physical beauty, its historical importance, and its powerful atmosphere.”

For more City of Culture stories visit www.eveningnews24.co.uk/culture.

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Official Norwich 2013 bid website

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