The stars of Channel 4’s Escape to the Chateau, Dick and Angel Strawbridge, will tour in 2020 with their 18-date theatre show Dick & Angel – Dare To Do It. essence caught up with them to find out more.
Q Dick and Angel, what inspired the terrific idea of doing this new live theatre show?
A We receive many lovely emails from viewers that have followed our journey and they tell us that one day they intend on coming to meet us. So, instead of waiting for them to come to us, we decided to go to them!
Q You are used to being in front of the camera, but how do you think you will feel walking out on a theatre stage – do you think you will have some pre-show nerves?
A Dick’s used to standing up in front of lots of people, whereas Angel is used to being bossy in a smaller group! The theatre will be a challenge and we already have far too many ideas in discussion for content and design of the stage. We will undoubtedly be a bit nervous, but are really looking forward to having lots of fun.
Q Do you hope the theatre tour might inspire people to be more adventurous in their life?
A Hopefully, our story will encourage people to follow their dream and if they leave us realising that life is for living, we will have done a good job.
Q What do you hope people will take away from Dick & Angel – Dare To Do It?
A We always say that you can’t write the script that puts a crusty old colonel and a city girl in a castle in France with two beautiful children. Our story is a love story that has been shaped by us dreaming about our life together and then doing it. Hopefully, this is a strong message and may encourage others to ‘dare to do it’!
Q You both come from quite different backgrounds. What do you think is the secret of your relationship and business success?
A Passion and a good work ethic.
Q Why France?
A After a romantic holiday early in our relationship, we decided that the simple life and long lunches in France were for us...we haven’t fully embraced that lifestyle yet, but it’s a beautiful country and when we discovered what we could get for our money, our fate was sealed!
Q The Escape to the Chateau series is obviously very popular, what do you think the secret of its success is?
A This is a real-life fairytale and we’ve shown it is actually possible to make your dreams come true. It does involve working together as a team and very long hours, but the message definitely is that pursuing your dreams is the right thing to do!
Q Angel, you have been responsible for the design aspects of the chateau and now you are launching a range of home furnishings – can you tell us about that and where they can be obtained?
A Over the past five years, there have been lots of design decisions about the look and feel of our chateau. The chateau, in some instances, led the design. For example, finding a wardrobe in the attic full of original wallpaper used at the property led to the Wallpaper Museum. Dick’s love for the walled garden (the potagerie) and the incredible view to the south, inspired the Potagerie Suite design. From the emails we receive, there are lots of people who want to buy the designs, so we launched The Chateau by Angel Strawbridge range of wallpaper and soft furnishings, as well as personalised items available on our website. Lots of independent shops across the UK are stocking the range and it’s also available at Sainsburys, Next and Argos.
Q Who would be your design influence?
A William Morris, Etré, Georges Lepape.
Q Dick, you seem to be in charge of the cooking – did you train as a chef at any point or do you just have a passion for it?
A I love my grub and I have a real passion for cooking. I did a cookery course as part of my resettlement when I left the army. That said, I am mainly self-taught, but when I competed on MasterChef, I did get a taste for working in restaurants. I’ve made cookery programmes with my son James and I’ve run restaurants to gain more experience. Interestingly, Arthur is a chip off the old block and is never happier than when he is in the kitchen too. Must be in the genes!
Q What benefits do you think the children are getting from life at the chateau?
A They have the best playground imaginable! They appreciate good food and where it comes from. They get to meet interesting people from different countries, though mainly English and French. As they are involved in all aspects of our life, they learn a lot, from doing crafts with Angel to gardening and cooking with Dick. Hopefully, they will pass what they are learning now on to their children.
Q Do your children speak French and do they go to a local school – how do you find that?
A Yes, they both speak French. Arthur can also read French. We think it’s brilliant that they are bi-lingual. Dorothy recently translated for us during a conversation with another parent.
Q Do you both speak French?
A Yes, we both speak French! One of us is a little more advanced than the other. It’s a confidence thing.
Q How do you feel the locals have taken you – have you been accepted into the community?
A Having young children in any community is always handy as it gives you a way in. Our mairie married us and we think the events business really supports the bakers and local shops. We don’t think that many locals really know what we do, but that doesn’t matter.
Q What are the plans for the future – where do you see yourselves five years from now?
A We think the wedding business will carry on. Angel says I can retire at 65...so that’s my five year plan! Actually, to be fair, retirement is not on the cards, we intend to keep living life to the full.
Q What are the most memorable things that happened during the refurbishment of the chateau – did you ever think: “we must be mad?”
A When the extra-large core drill failed to get through the walls in the very early days after buying the chateau, we knew we had a challenge on our hands. Every hole has memories attached, but the most special one was the archway between two rooms in the honeymoon suite. It was one of Angel’s first engineering tasks and we had a lot of fun. Having said that, every project has been memorable: the lift, the helter skelter, the floating glamping dome, the Potagerie Suite, to name just a few.
Q Any funny stories or moments when you thought you might pack it all in?
A NEVER! We know that there is a way around every little problem the chateau throws at us. We know this is our forever home.v
Tickets for Dick & Angel – Dare To Do It are on sale now from chateaudelamottehusson.com/contact.
The 18 date theatre tour commences on Sunday 23 February 2020 and concludes on Monday 23 March.
The couple will appear at GLive in Guildford on Wednesday 4 March.
Tickets from the box office: 01483 369350