Tuesday, 27 February 2024

Chuckles and Challenges: Ben Miller's Hilarious Quest for Home in Chipping Norton's Shoestring Spaces

Chuckles and Challenges: Ben Miller's Hilarious Quest for Home in Chipping Norton's Shoestring Spaces
Monday, 18 December 2023 22:00

Chuckles and Countryside: Ben Miller's Whimsical Journey from London's Buzz to a Cotswolds Chauffeur's Cottage

At 57, Ben Miller wears many hats – actor, comedian, and children's writer, best known for his comedic exploits as one half of the dynamic duo, Armstrong and Miller. With a diverse career that includes roles in popular shows like Death in Paradise, Primeval, and Professor T, as well as memorable appearances alongside Rowan Atkinson in the Johnny English films, Miller's talents know no bounds.

His story takes an unexpected turn from the bustling streets of London to the serene landscapes of Gloucestershire. In his early 30s, Miller acquired his first property in the vibrant neighborhood of Canonbury, north London. However, life took a comedic twist in 2014 when, as a father of three, he decided it was time to trade the cityscape for the countryside.

The motivation for this move? Their energetic three-year-old son, Harrison, who seemed to be quite literally bouncing off the walls of their London home. The search for a more spacious abode led them to Chipping Norton in Oxfordshire, where Miller harbored dreams of joining the illustrious 'Chipping Norton set.' Alas, the reality of house prices in the area quickly brought those dreams crashing down.

Undeterred, the couple expanded their search beyond the commuter belt and found themselves exploring the somewhat dreary houses of north Oxfordshire. Fate, however, had other plans. A chance message from Jessica's mother directed them to a copy of Country Life, specifically page 159 – a serendipitous moment that would change the course of their housing adventure.

The picturesque hamlet near Cirencester, an area unfamiliar to the couple, became their new haven. Nestled atop a hill, their dwelling, a former chauffeur's cottage, boasts a unique history. Built in the 1930s by the Arts and Crafts architect Norman Jewson, it was later extended by the ingenious Robert Hardwick, who added additional cottages using traditional Cotswold materials.

The eccentric layout of the connected cottages, designed to accommodate their family dynamics, reflects the unconventional charm that drew them in. With a teenage son in one cottage, the two younger children in another, and a separate cottage for work – complete with a delightful fake front door leading to a terrace and woodland steps – the Miller residence is a delightful blend of functionality and whimsy.

In this Cotswolds haven, Ben Miller and his family have found a home that perfectly mirrors their offbeat sense of humor and embraces the delightful eccentricities of country living. It's a far cry from the shoebox dreams of Chipping Norton but, as Miller would attest, sometimes life's best punchlines are written in the rolling hills and charming cottages of the English countryside.

Hollywood Regency and Wooden Leopards: Ben Miller's Quirky Cotswolds Abode

Nestled in the heart of the Cotswolds, Ben Miller's country retreat is a whimsical blend of Hollywood glamour and countryside charm. The fabulous kitchen, adorned with enormous polished Cotswolds stone flagstones, sets the stage for the eccentric yet stylish interiors that characterize the actor-comedian's home.

The sitting room exudes Hollywood Regency vibes, featuring rosewood-textured floors and shelving reminiscent of American glamour. Miller's wife, the creative force behind the decor, has adorned the space with peculiar gold pineapples reminiscent of 1920s Hollywood chic. The couple's music room takes a turn towards the absurd, housing stuffed animals and a record player, a nod to Miller's nostalgic yearning for the ambiance of Soho House.

While Miller might have envisioned a perpetual holiday in the countryside, the reality of rural living brings its own set of challenges. Living miles away from the convenience of a supermarket means stocking up the house like a corner shop, a stark departure from the spontaneous lifestyle of city living. Socializing takes on a different rhythm, requiring proactive efforts, but Miller considers himself fortunate to have a wife adept at organizing delightful dinner parties.

Despite the idyllic setting, Miller candidly acknowledges the long, challenging months of February and March in the countryside. A wooden writing cottage nestled in the midst of their beech wood serves as Miller's haven for summer creativity, though winter transforms it into a chilly retreat, necessitating a ski hat for warmth.

Reflecting on his journey from Cambridge to the vibrant streets of London, Miller recalls his early days sharing houses with creative minds like Ol Parker and Jez Butterworth. It was through Butterworth that he crossed paths with Alexander Armstrong, sparking the formation of the renowned comedy duo, Armstrong and Miller. The Tower Theatre, sandwiched between Miller's Canonbury flat and Armstrong's Georgian house, witnessed the birth of their comedic endeavors, even attracting the likes of Robbie Williams to their try-outs.

As the laughter echoed through the years, so did Miller's adventures in homeownership, from a raised ground-floor flat in Canonbury to the eclectic charm of his Cotswolds abode. From Hollywood-inspired decor to wooden Tibetan snow leopards guarding the front door, Ben Miller's home is a testament to the delightful fusion of humor, creativity, and the unpredictable journey of life in the English countryside.

Journeying Across Continents: Ben Miller's Homesickness Amidst Filming

The life of an actor often entails globetrotting for film and television projects, and for Ben Miller, the separation from home becomes a poignant tale. Currently immersed in filming a new comedy series alongside Sally Phillips in Australia, Miller finds himself on a venture that has kept him away longer than any previous assignment.

While filming "Professor T" in Belgium, the comedian would faithfully journey back home every weekend, bridging the distance to assuage the pangs of homesickness. However, the allure of Australia's vast landscapes and the demands of his latest project have left him marooned in the land Down Under for an extended period.

Expressing his heartfelt longing for home, Miller acknowledges the irony of his situation – yearning for the familiar comforts while surrounded by the unique adventures that Australia has to offer. Despite the challenges, there's a resigned acceptance that accompanies the nomadic life of a performer.

Amidst the hectic filming schedule, Miller finds solace in the release of his latest work, "Adventures of a Christmas Elf." The hardback edition, now available from Simon & Schuster, offers a delightful escape into the world of Miller's imagination. Perhaps, within the pages of his festive creation, there's a touch of the warmth and familiarity he craves from his distant home.

As the cameras roll in Australia and laughter echoes on set, Ben Miller's heart remains tethered to the place he misses terribly. The transient life of an actor, filled with both excitement and homesickness, weaves a narrative that unfolds across continents, leaving audiences to appreciate the sacrifices made in the pursuit of storytelling magic.

In the transient world of showbiz, where laughter is scripted, and characters come to life under the spotlight, Ben Miller's journey across continents paints a bittersweet picture. As he navigates the challenges of filming in far-flung locations, the specter of homesickness casts a poignant shadow. Yet, amidst the vast landscapes of Australia and the bustling sets of his latest comedy venture, Miller finds solace in the release of 'Adventures of a Christmas Elf.'

In the dichotomy of missing the familiarity of home and embracing the adventures abroad, Miller's story mirrors the duality of the actor's life. It's a tale of sacrifices made for the love of storytelling, each scene captured on camera a testament to the passion that propels artists forward. As 'Adventures of a Christmas Elf' takes its place on bookshelves, it becomes a literary oasis for Miller, a connection to the creative realms he crafts both on and off the screen.

The laughter that echoes through the sets in Australia carries with it the echoes of longing for the place left behind. In this transient pursuit of cinematic magic, Ben Miller's journey unfolds, a narrative of homesickness and creative exploration that resonates with anyone who has ventured far from the familiar embrace of home.


Maria Almasri
Tuesday, 27 February 2024
Dan Alexa: A Profile in Achievement
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