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Exclusive: Dick & Angel Strawbridge talk moving on from Escape to the Chateau and why new venture is their most 'personal' yet

The couple chat to HELLO! about their new book, Forever Home, and why it marks a new chapter for the family…

Dick and Angel Strawbridge
Francesca Shillcock
Senior Features Writer
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When Escape to the Chateau aired its ninth and final series last year, it wasn't just an emotional moment for its leading stars, Dick and Angel Strawbridge; there was an army of dedicated fans perplexed at the idea that the Channel 4 show would be no more.

Although the lifestyle programme wasn't their first venture into television – Dick previously appeared on Scrapheap Challenge and BBC's It's Not Easy Being Green while Angel was known for her stint on Dragons' DenEscape captured the hearts of its viewership and cemented the couple's status as household names.

The show was extremely popular: re-runs are regularly shown at prime time, it led to spin-off series and it aired in multiple territories. In fact, fans still regularly frequent the couple's Instagram comment sections enquiring about when the latest episodes are landing in Canada, Germany, et cetera.

Dick and Angel Strawbridge with their two children, Arthur and Dorothy
Dick and Angel Strawbridge with their two children, Arthur and Dorothy

Escape followed the pair as they transformed the sprawling Château de la Motte Husson in Pays de la Loire, France from a huge building that needed a lot of work into what they describe as their 'forever home'. But after eight years and nine seasons on the show, the couple are moving on to bigger and better things.

They have released their latest book, Forever Home, and they've ventured into podcasts, launching their own show, Dick & Angel's CHAT…EAU earlier this year. In an exclusive interview with HELLO!, Dick and Angel talk candidly about the Channel 4 show ending, why their podcast is their most candid offering to fans and their big plans for the Chateau in 2024 and beyond…

New beginnings

"We actually have the chance now to sit down and chat. It's like a date. It's ridiculous we say that, but it is true. We sit down and have a lovely time," Dick, 64, told HELLO! "We are together all the time, so we speak daily. But it's [about] taking that time to catch up on the week."

It seems the podcast format allows them more freedom on topics of discussion compared to a perhaps more rigid structure that comes with filming an episodic television programme. Promotional clips posted on social media alone prove they cover many bases.

He continued: "We talk about the week, and stuff off the back of that, and then we look at some emails from people, but with that simple structure we can go anywhere. And we can say what we want. We would spend a year making television and that would come out in eight hours, whereas every week we chat for an hour about things that are happening; we look forward, we look back, and we can share so much more with people about what life is actually like all the time."

WATCH: Dick and Angel Strawbridge share glimpse at their new podcast

However, Escape certainly did shine a light on their everyday lives, Angel, 45, insisted: "Not that Escape wasn't [authentic], but you're only going to get the juiciest bit of everything. A lot of it hit the [cutting room] floor. We realised the beauty of it was just the simple things.

"The podcast is very personal. And there's something about when people listen to it on their own. Escape was very much a family show where you'd sit down and watch together, but this feels really, really personal."

The real reason Escape to the Chateau ended

So, why move away from the small screen? The couple have insisted in previous interviews that, despite headlines surrounding their relationship with Channel 4, bowing out of the show was the plan all along. The main reason is their two children, Arthur, 10, and Dorothy, nine.

"It was two years ago that we decided to end the Escape to the Chateau series," stated Dick. "We made the decision because the kids are growing older, and all the parallel activity was not sustainable at this level. We are doers and we are never going to stop completely, but we're also protecting them. Arthur is starting senior school and the pressure on our little ones is phenomenal. When he goes there, people may have heard that his parents have done stuff on television."

Dick and Angel Strawbridge © Channel 4
Dick and Angel Strawbridge for their Channel 4 show, Escape to the Chateau

Angel explained further: "Up until this year, we were not on French television at our request because while we are the British family that bought the Chateau in the village, we are very much completely normal."

When it comes to the relationship with their crew, the family dynamic extends beyond the husband and wife and their children. "Our camera team have been a part of our family. One of whom was like our third child and was best friends with the children. And then we had other people who would come back over a long period of time. It was all very natural."

Family values

But as one chapter ends, another begins. Despite the tagline of their new book, Forever Home being "the final chapter of our greatest adventure", it doesn't mean what it might suggest. "It's the final chapter of our Escape to the Chateau journey and bringing the Chateau back to life," insisted Dick. "It's not the end of our story, but the end of finding the Chateau and the early years.

"And it's to do with the children getting to a certain age, the chateau and our business reaching a degree of maturity, and the final chapter of the story people have been following in their living rooms on a Sunday evening."

The Chateau© IAN WALLACE
The Chateau

He added: "This is the long haul. We've had lots of people saying, 'Oh they're selling', but this is our forever home and Arthur and Dorthy know that and we plan for the future. When we've been away on tours and then we come back, it's stable. We've been here for nine years. I don't think I've lived anywhere for nine years of my life in one place. But the chateau just feels permanent. And it has a permanency that is to be enjoyed."

And that they do. The couple are always updating their large following on social media with snippets from their home life and how their two children are following in their footsteps. Dick, who also has two grown-up children from his previous marriage, said: "Children just want an opportunity to do things. 

"The two of them have got their own little play survival kits, they'll go and play in the garden and do things that we have done together. They'll spend time in the kitchen, Dorothy does crafting with Angel. They're both very artistic and know they can do anything and that's the best thing you can give their children."

The Strawbridges with their two children, Arthur and Dorothy
The Strawbridges moved to France in 2015

Forever Home

Looking back, they insist they have no regrets. "We've not done anything that we didn't think was right in the long run and I think that is the key part to it," Angel said, as Dick agreed: "The first year was the hardest, but we couldn't have done it any differently. I was working away a lot and Angela had to run the renovations. It was a very different year because I needed to get the income to get us started and jump-start everything.

"Some people buy a chateau and have got a big wedge of money in the bank and they can actually just sort of get on with it. We weren't in that situation. So that's why I was away earning."

The couple are proud of the graft they've put into their property and are equally proud of the fact they made their own means to do so. "Since we've been here, we've been running a business because we have to pay for all of the renovations. We have a bit of fun when we go on tour myth-busting because we do find the money to pay for it ourselves," explained Angel, adding: "The events business has always been the primary income in making sure we can continue to grow and evolve the chateau."

MORE: Dick and Angel Strawbridge unveil towering Christmas tree inside castle home 

MORE: Angel and Dick Strawbridge make shocking revelation about chateau home 

Dick and Angel take their family on a trip
Dick and Angel take their family on a trip

One example of this is finally completing work on the Chateau's roof, something the pair knew needed doing when they bought it back in 2015 but were unsure of how they would make it happen. Hard work meant they hit their target in 2022. "We didn't know when we took over the house whether we would ever have the money in the bank to do it," the Dragons' Den star admitted.

Dick said: "And when we did get it done, we had re-risked it for Arthur and Dorothy. [The children] will never have that problem because the roof will outlive them and that's our gift to them. They won't have to do something because of what they've been saddled with."

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So, what's next for Dick and Angel and the famous Chateau? As they admit themselves, they don't ever seem to halt improving upon their renovations and designs. "The large barns, after four years of trying, have now got electricity. We've got a project plan for that next year and it's the largest space we have at the Chateau," explained Dick.

"We would like to get a swimming pool in there at some point, we've had a €299 paddling pool for many years!" joked Angel, before Dick added finally: "But the garden is going from strength to strength. Plus, we've got more stuff to do up in the attic, too." The work never stops.

Dick and Angel Strawbridge's book The Chateau: Forever Home is out now. Their podcast Dick & Angel's Chat…Eau is available to listen weekly on Global Player and all major podcast providers.

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