Timmy Mallett on cycling around Britain with his paints - "You have to seize the day, don’t you?"

Virgin Radio

15 Mar 2022, 10:32

Credit: Rex

Credit: Rex

Legendary kids TV presenter Timmy Mallett joined the Chris Evans Breakfast Show with Sky to talk about his plan to cycle around Britain with his paints. 

Timmy’s broad aim is to paint a picture a day on his journey, which he calculates as about 4000 miles, and to do it in 100 days. “That’s the aim, but I’m not going to worry about it if it doesn’t happen exactly like that,” he said.

When explaining the inspiration behind his adventure, the broadcaster and artist told Chris that it came from painters William Turner and John Constable, who were influential exponents of romanticism, saying: “This story starts 200 years ago when there was a little tin pot dictator rampaging over Europe, and you couldn’t got travelling to Europe, so artists like Turner and Constable said, ‘You know what, we’ll go and paint the glory of Britain.’ So, they went off and painted the white cliffs, Welsh castles, the Highlands of Scotland, the Lake District, East Anglia, Northumberland, and they painted such stunning images. I thought, ‘You know what, it would be really interesting to follow in their paint tracks.'”

He added: “There’s something about it, isn’t there? A tinpot dictator? And 200 years later it all sounds rather familiar to Napoleon.”

Timmy plans to head off this Thursday (17th March) from London, and just take it from there. “I’ll start somewhere like Paddington Station I think, where everyone is going off to work and I’m just going on a little bike ride. I’m going to set off, going clockwise around the country and see how far I get with my paints, painting as I go, thinking about these artists that have done it before, and seeing how it’s changed,” he explained.

The artist continued: “I carry my paints with me. I’ve got acrylics, A5-size boards, and I’ve got some water colours, and I’ll do some sketching, and I’ll be in that moment and see what I can create, a bit like Turner did. I mean, Turner would walk all over the country, 20 odd miles a day, with his sketchbook, making little notes, and scribbling everywhere, and then go back to the studio and create those amazing pictures that you see in the Tate and in the National [Gallery].”

When Chris asked what he would do with all of the canvases on which he paints his pictures along the way, Timmy replied: “I’ll send some of them home, and I’m hoping that Mrs Mallett may turn up occasionally with a little embrace and a ‘well done’ and perhaps bring some more. I’ve asked and she said, ‘I’ll see how I feel!’”

Timmy told Chris the reason that he was taking on this cycling/painting adventure, saying: “It’s really to be reassured, I think, about the familiarity of our beautiful country, because it really is a stunning country, and I think we should be celebrating it.”

Speaking more about his challenge, he said: “You’ve got to be kind to yourself. You’ve got to have days off, and you’ve got to be in the moment. I haven’t pre-booked things, on purpose, because it’s about being in the now. If you pre-book things, you have to get there, it’s always about reaching your target, or about where you’ve come from. But what’s wrong with the here and now?"

Timmy cycled 3,500-kilometres from his home in Berkshire to Santiago de Compostela and back in 2018 in memory of his brother. “My dear brother Martin, with Down Syndrome, language and learning difficulties, he always lived in the moment, and so it’s about embracing what happens,” he said.

The Wacaday star spoke to Chris about something interesting that happened to him when he was out on his bike just last weekend, saying: “I’m cycling on Saturday, and a car pulls up alongside me, and the driver winds down his window and sticks his head out and says, ‘Nice E-bike, but what about my electric car?’ I did a double-take, because it was you in that VW, saying, ‘It’s a 1965 Beetle and it’s been all electrified.’ And suddenly we’re by the side of the road, catching up and having a chat, and I’m thinking, ‘That’s what’s supposed to happen.’”

Fans can keep up with Timmy’s journey on social media and by keeping an eye on the roads around where they live. “I’m on all the different socials, so I’ll be posting each day, and if you see me cycling past, you won’t miss it, because it’s quite a colourful bike, and I do look quite colourful,” he said. 

“You know, a little wave and a greeting and a smile, that’s all I’m asking. I’m not asking for sponsorship or anything like that. It’s about reaching your potential to see, can it be done, and how much fun can you have doing this journey.

“You have to seize the day, don’t you? And you go, ‘Right, why not? What reason is there not to do this, right here, right now?’ And so, I’m going to attempt it, and if it works, it’ll be great. If it doesn’t, I’ll have fun doing it anyway.”

Timmy Mallett’s 4000 miles in 100 day cycling tour of the UK is targeted to start this Thursday.

For more great interviews listen to The Chris Evans Breakfast Show with Sky, weekdays from 6:30am on Virgin Radio, or catch up on-demand here.