Meet Timothy Bentinck
"Colin is kind of a child himself and everybody has a relationship with their car in some way. Particularly with the older cars which often didn’t work properly"
Timothy Bentinck’s voice precedes him. He’s spent some 30 years lending his vocal cords to David Archer in radio soap The Archers, all the while voicing audio books and adverts too. Bentinck’s face is also familiar to many; he’s been acting since his twenties, appearing on both screen and stage.
With computer programming and home renovation skills also under his belt, the multifaceted creative is now turning his career in an even more colourful direction.
He’s written children’s book Colin the Campervan, though admits he’s still surprised to be called an author. “It came as a complete accident actually,” he says. “I wrote it not as a book, but as a story for my children.
“When they were young we had a campervan which was old and didn’t have a heater. We froze to death in it and it kept breaking down. So I wrote it into a supervan, as a sort of wish-fulfilment. I read the story to my boys and then it sat as a word file on my computer for 20 years until Kindle came out. Then, because I’m a bit of a computer programmer, I turned it into Kindle format and uploaded it onto there, not really thinking any more of it.”
Soon however, FBS Publishing were expressing interest. “So, after having spent most of my life trying to do bits of writing, radio plays, things like that, with all the effort that went into it – suddenly this thing came straight out of left field,” Bentinck laughs.
The storybook, illustrated by Owen Claxton, has a yesteryear charm now a rare find on the high street. “It’s the same as the storybooks from when I was younger,” he explains.
“It’s timeless. There’s enough brashness and computerised stuff around, whereas this is slightly wistful.
"It’s all from Colin’s (the campervan’s) point of view too and I realised this is why it has a charm.
"Colin is kind of a child himself and everybody has a relationship with their car in some way. Particularly back then with the older cars which often didn’t work properly. Modern cars have less character because they’re more reliable.”
Bentinck may be fond of cars of the past, but he still found the book still needed a sprinkling of modernity to meet its target audience. “I had to update it because 20 years ago the sort of things that went into making a supervan were very different from today! Back then a 5mb hard drive was pretty impressive, now it’s had to become a terabyte...”
A voiceover artist, actor, entrepreneur and now an author, there have been forks in Bentinck’s creative career path.
“As a computer programmer I’ve written programs that have run businesses. During the dot com boom everyone was saying ‘we need a website’ and there were people charging £1 million to build one. I thought, ‘Wait a minute, this is HTML, I know how to do this!’ I could write this website in three days and it would cost you £200 quid. I was far too honest, I didn’t realise the whole thing was a scam and I could have become extremely rich. I could have changed paths then, which would have meant I didn’t have this ridiculous insecurity about being an actor at the age of 61...”
Bentinck thought about pursuing his passion for music, too. “I’m quite a good guitarist,” he says. “If I’d really stuck to that, I could have been a good musician…”
But he has his hands full before his big guitar break – Bentinck is already writing the next instalment of Colin the Campervan . “I can sort of imagine writing a whole series, with Colin guesting on the next Pixar Cars film,” he smiles. “Then I can put my feet up and not have to work so hard!”
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