My taste of East Anglia – Griff Rhys Jones

Famous for Not The Nine O’Clock News, Restoration, Three Men in Boat, and Smith and Jones, Griff Rhys Jones’s last documentary series about Canada was a hit for Channel 4 in 2022, following recent series set in Australia and New Zealand. He fills theatres around Britain on his comedy tours, which begin this spring after he returns from making another six-part series, this time in Vietnam. In Suffolk, he is Patron of EACH, he is Patron of the Stour River and the Stour and Orwell Association. Nationally, he is President of Civic Voice and the Victorian Society. He talks to nourish magazine about his love for Suffolk and how we need to preserve our heritage.

where I live 
I am just on the edge of Suffolk by the Stour estuary. If the sea levels rise, I will be in Essex. I have lived here since the beginning of time, I think, but in fact it comes to nearly forty years.

I am not from Suffolk but I wanted to live near the water so I could get afloat on the estuaries, the guts, the creeks, and the inlets that make coastal Suffolk so fascinating. The house needed work, so I didn’t float my own boat down the bottom of the garden for about ten years. I first sailed into the Harwich Basin when I was eight or so and from the get-go, I was enchanted by the river scenery. I still am.

love for Suffolk
Suffolk was very quiet when we came here first. It has got busier, but it is still a different world. Especially if you are prepared to avoid the hot spots where Media London congregates. But I couldn’t possibly say where that is.

favourite haunts 
Ipswich should never be overlooked. It has great fish and chip shops and unexpected streets where the best Indian restaurants huddle among wonderful medieval churches. But we head to Dedham for The Sun or The Talbooth, and down to Mistley for The Thorn. I think those are all in Essex, but we are not chauvinistic. Ruth Watson has branched out again and is now in Framlingham and we have followed her all around Suffolk. But we haven’t been off to check out higher Suffolk much since the lockdowns. We shop in Waitrose on the Ransome Park, the Deli in Woodbridge, and the Suffolk Food Hall under the bridge.

unwinding and cooking
I love my garden and my wife is an amazing cook, and we are spoilt for binge-worthy TV these days, aren’t we? But we walk around Pin Mill and I always have a lot of things to clip. So, I am rushing in and out, admiring the river.

I sometimes cook salmon and cavalo nero with a walnut pesto. It’s a very complicated workload for a simple dish.

looking ahead 
I am on tour in May. Not sure how close I get to home, but I did warm-ups in Sudbury. We will all be back in Ipswich with Happy Christmas Ipswich Again! at the Regent Theatres on 4 December, I hope.

our heritage
I am always trying to draw attention to the sort of things that can happen behind your back. We didn’t manage to persuade the council not to remove the beach huts in Felixstowe, and I would urge people who care about such things to get together to vote the responsible insensitive council members out of office. Don’t let the wonderful little Victorian Trimley St Mary Station just be bulldozed out of the way. That is a wealthy section of the line serving Felixstowe docks, and they should find money to repair its quality buildings. 

Griff Rhys Jones at the launch of a major campaign to save Liverpool Street Station

Please, all watch out for what they are doing to the Ipswich Museum. They have a Lottery Grant and seem to be intent on ‘modernising’ a perfect little Edwardian gem. And make sure you sign the petition to protect your Liverpool Street Station from the Vampire Squid, a 16-storey development, that Network Rail want to build right on top of it. 

  • You can find Griff on the road with his The Cat’s Pyjamas tour at selected dates in May. Find out more at – he will be appearing at Bury St Edmunds Theatre Royal on 28 May and Norwich Theatre Royal on 16 June. 

  • If you would like to make Griff’s recipe for salmon with cavolo nero and walnut pesto then here is our recipe for a delicious walnut pesto

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