HOLLYWOOD actor Timothy Spall, who recently stopped off in Whitby, was forced to call for RNLI aid when his 55ft barge got lost on its way to Chatham Marina in Kent.
Last month Tim was in Whitby, filming on board The Princess Matilda for his BBC Four programme, Timothy Spall: Back at Sea, and it was while shooting a later episode that he got into difficulty.
His wife, Shane, said: “We should have stayed in Whitby.
“But after 2,000 miles, we haven’t done too badly.
“We took our eye off the ball on a river we know really well, and it was dark and the lights from the power stations and cranes dazzled and confused us.
“All the RNLI crews we have met have always advised us to call them out sooner rather than later, so this is what Tim did.
“It could have been much worse if we had got stuck on the mud or run down by a tanker.”
Tim had called for aid with the barge heading the wrong way up the River Medway towards Sheerness, with the show’s producer describing Tim as “exhausted” after a difficult 24 hours.
The RNLI said the crew of Sheerness lifeboat were receiving training in their boathouse when they overheard discussions between the barge and the Coastguard, and the lifeboat was launched at 9.30pm.
RNLI crewmember Andy Matthews said: “There is lots of mud round there and you need to know where you are otherwise you can end up aground.
“Things could have got much worse and Mr Spall was very grateful for the RNLI’s assistance.”
Crew member Nicki Wood boarded the barge and escorted it back to safety at Queenborough Harbour, where it moored overnight.
Back at Sea producer Paul Crompton said Tim arrived at Chatham Marina on the barge on Thursday, where they would remain for two or three days.