'Tim and I both understood we had done something really stupid. We had underestimated the danger involved in going out to sea. We had radio, compass, life raft or flares. In other words, we were a couple of idiots'. This is the story of Shane and Timothy Spall and their Dutch barge The Princess Matilda. After a summer on the Thames they head out to sea with only a road atlas and a vast amount of igrance - and it is absolutely terrifying! On their travels, memories are triggered of childhood trips to the seaside, but also of more recent times. A decade before, Tim had been diagsed with acute leukaemia and was given only days to live. Shocked at how life can pass you by they decided that when, and if, Tim got better, they would buy a boat. As Tim and Shane explore the coast from the Medway to Cornwall, eventually they start to wonder, could they make it out of England altogether? Could Matilda make it to ...Wales? Taking over five years, The Voyages of The Princess Matilda is a mir epic, charting a very personal, moving and uplifting story of an everyday couple's adventure around their much loved homeland.
SHANE SPALL is from a large Midlands family. Her mother called her Number Five and her father after a character in a Western, played by Alan Ladd. As a teenager in the 70s she worked in a Quaker hotel in Birmingham and on her day off would sit in New Street station and wonder where everyone was going. She now knows they were mostly going to work or coming home. The day that the young actor Timothy Spall arrived at New Street in 1981 she was in a council flat a few miles away. They could have been ships that had passed in the night but he sought her out because he had fallen passionately in love with her when he had accidentally touched her arm one night. The young actor now gets to play parts called 'old man' but is considered to be a 'national treasure'. He's a bit of a show off, but his wife doesn't mind, she keeps his feet on the ground. They have three children and used to have a bulldog that couldn't swim and a goldfish but they fostered it out as it got lonely staying home on its own.