RNLI assists lost actor

When the Coastguard got a call at 9.30pm on Wednesday from a lost barge, the Sheerness inshore lifeboat crew sent to assist got a surprise when they found its skipper to be famous actor Timothy Spall.

The 55ft Dutch barge Princess Matilda, carrying Spall, his wife Shane and the TV crew working with him on a forthcoming show, was trying to get to Chatham Marina but was instead heading out towards the Thames Estuary.

Finding the night navigation lights confusing, the skipper radioed for help. He was said to be exhausted after a difficult 24-hours on the water.

RNLI crew member Andy Matthews said: ‘There is lots of mud round there and you need to know where you are otherwise you can end up aground. He was right to call us. We’d rather he call us beforehand, than later maybe when things could have got much worse. Mr Spall was very grateful for the RNLI’s assistance.’

After putting a crew member aboard the barge to check its occupants were safe, the lifeboat escorted the barge back to Queensborough Harbour, where it moored overnight before continuing to Chatham Marina for a few days respite.

Character actor Spall, who played Winston Churchill in 2010’s multi-Oscar winning The King’s Speech, got his big break in the 1980s TV series Auf Wiedersehen Pet and is now perhaps best known for his work in the Harry Potter films. He and his actress wife are sailing their barge around the British Isles for the upcoming BBC4 series Timothy Spall: Back at Sea.

BBC footage of RNLI crew


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