The True Story Of Stephen Fry’s Talking Bench

Stephen Fry

Stephen Fry

Suppose you were on a holiday in the British countryside, having a wander through some scenic park or the grounds of a stately home. Tired, you alight upon an ornately carved bench which, in some undefinable way, to be a bit Stephen Fry-ish. Still, you sit down, to rest your weary feet, and then, out of nowhere, comes the voice of the great man himself.

Well, I don’t know about you, but if that were me, and I didn’t know it was about to happen, I would RUN HOME.

And yet, the National Trust have just launched a scheme across the UK where notable public figures such as Stephen, and Miranda Hart, have recorded stories to be fitted to specially carved benches, that suddenly start up whenever someone sits on them.

The full list of contributors (and locations) is as follows:

Stephen Fry – Felbrigg Hall, Norfolk
Miranda Hart – Cragside, Northumberland
Claudia Winkleman, BBC presenter – Quarry Mill Bank, Cheshire
John Sergeant, broadcaster – Petworth House, West Sussex
Alain de Botton, philosopher and author – Castle Ward, County Down
Nick Baker, naturalist and broadcaster – Cotehele, Cornwall
David Gower, former cricketer – Calke Abbey, Derbyshire
Iolo Williams, naturalist and broadcaster – Dinefwr Park & Castle, Carmarthenshire

Stephen said, in a press release about the scheme: “To quote, or nearly quote, WH Davies; ‘what is this life if, full of care, we have no time to sit and stare?’

“I am very proud to be associated with a bench and I hope I provide comfort and solace for many a weary bottom.”

I know, that could have another meaning. Let’s skirt around it, pretend it didn’t happen, and then go and read what Miranda said:

“The idea of being somebody’s Bench Mate and chatting to them while they get to experience a beautiful view is a lovely, nay, tremendous idea.”

Phew! Crisis averted.

Would that appeal, or scare the holy heck out of you? Tell us here.

Fraser McAlpine

Fraser has been writing and broadcasting about music and popular culture for over 13 years, first at the Top of the Pops website, and most recently for the NME. He also wrote BBC Radio 1's Chart Blog and reviews albums for BBC Music.

He is Anglophenia's current resident Brit, blogging about British slang and running around the Mall taking snaps of the crowd at the Royal Wedding, as well as reigniting a childhood passion for classic Doctor Who and cramming as much music in as he can manage.

Fraser invites you to join him on Twitter: @csi_popmusic

See more posts by Fraser McAlpine