my taste of East Anglia – Liza Goddard

Liza with Bradley

Actress Liza Goddard has been a familiar figure on our screens for many years, staring in programmes such as Skippy: The Bush Kangaroo, Bergerac, Woof, and Doctor Who. Having moved to Norfolk with her late husband, David Cobham, Liza fell in love with this part of East Anglia. She talks to Samantha Mattocks about the conservation work started with David, her rescue dogs, and where to find the best cheese scone in Norfolk.

where I live
I live near to Dereham and Fakenham and have been in Norfolk for over 30 years. I came here because of David, whom I married in 1994 but first met and became friends with in 1979 when he cast me in Brendon’s Chase. He was from Yorkshire but said the second best place was Norfolk! David was a conservationist, with his most famous pieces being Tarka the Otter and Vanishing Hedgerows, the first ever conservation film, made in 1972. We worked together on Woof; I seem to have done a lot of programmes with animals! Skippy was my first job working with animals, and I spent two years on that programme.

love for Norfolk
I love Norfolk, and I am so glad to live here. I love the big skies; I was based in Australia four years, and that was a place also known for its big skies. I also love the topography of Norfolk, and I think we have the best coastline in the country! 

I love that feeling of coming home whenever I return from filming. In fact, I filmed twice in Norfolk before I moved here. First in 1978 when I filmed Queen of a Distant Country in Sheringham and then in 1982 with David filming Seal Morning in and around Blakeney. I spent weeks just birdwatching with David, waiting for the rain to stop, and I really got to love this part of north Norfolk, which was before the influx! 

I find the people here so welcoming. David and I lived with no neighbours for 30 years, so I moved to a small village when he died. People have lived here all their lives, and they are just so friendly. 

favourite haunts
We have a very good local pub where I live, and also an active community including an ‘oldies lunch’ every month, which is great fun, as is the book club! 

Further afield, I love Hamptons at the Barn in Bawdeswell; Junction 21 Tea Room at Thelmelthorpe – Audrey there makes the best cheese scones I have ever had; Betty’s Tea Room in Norwich and Aylsham; Byfords in Holt; and the Victoria at Holkham. I currently have three rescue dogs, and there is nothing better than a walk on Holkham Beach with the dogs and then lunch at the Victoria. 

I also enjoy Holkham Beach Café, Wells Deli, the Brisley Bell, Reepham Station Café, and The Taste of Thai near Fakenham. 

Holly the Spangledor and Violet the Yorkie

conservation and charity work
The Hawk and Owl Conservation Trust was founded in 1969, and David was a supporter from the very beginning. In 2001, it located to Sculthorpe Moor Nature Reserve thanks to Nigel Middleton contacting David about some land that was up for rent where a Marsh harrier nested. Nigel asked David to get the Hawk and Owl Trust interested in taking up the lease. I have been a member since 1982 and was also President for a long time and David was Vice President for many years. It has been open 21 years now, and the changes are astonishing. 

David did a lot of work with them, including writing books and making films on topics such as Bowland Beth: The Life of an English Hen Harrier. He wanted this book to have the same effect as the film, Tarka the Otter, which resulted in otter hunting being banned. He was a brilliant man.

In the early days, Sculthorpe had just 24 acres – now it is over 250. This April, we released a pair of beavers and there is a webcam on these amazing nocturnal creatures on social media. 

I also work with All Dogs Matter in London, who work to transform the lives of unwanted and abandoned dogs. I am actually writing a book about the dogs I have owned in my life, 50 in total, and all rescues bar one bred by actor James Bolam. I support other charities, too, including Norfolk Air Ambulance, the Royal British Legion, British Trust Ornithology, RSPCA Norfolk Division, and I am a Fellow of the RSPB. 

cooking
Now I am on my own, I tend not to cook as much as I used to. I go to my daughter’s for dinner a lot, and she does the best roast potatoes! I eat a lot of eggs and tend to go to Algy’s Farm Shop and stock up. One simple thing I like to do is just put some beaten eggs in a pan with some olive oil and fresh herbs from the garden. I have just planted some winter savory, which came from Norfolk Herbs at Gressinghall. 

looking ahead
I have just finished filming an episode of Casualty, which was a great experience. Then in January, I go to the Theatre Royal Bath to perform in Relatively Speaking by the brilliant director, Alan Ayckbourn. I have worked with him so many times and doing so remains one of the greatest experiences of my theatrical career. Relatively Speaking will go on tour and will be at Cambridge Arts Theatre in February. And then there’s my book on dogs, which I have to finish by the end of next summer! It has been great fun reliving each of them, and their individual characteristics, and I have enjoyed sharing these memories with my granddaughter. She works at Hillside Animal Sanctuary; I think it is safe to say that a love of animals runs in our family!  

  • For more reading on The Hawk and Owl Trust, including membership and Adopt a Box, the perfect Christmas present, at hawkandowltrust.org
  • Relatively Speaking owoptill be at Cambridge Arts Theatre on 7-11 February.
    You can book tickets at cambridgeartstheatre.com
  • Liza shares her recipe for baked cheesecake

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