Since the pandemic, many have chosen to swap city living for a gentler pace - and a new daytime series is giving families the chance to road test the possibility. In today's Wanted: A Simple Life, former West End performer turned theatre director Pauline Elliott and husband Robin, who is celebrating 25 years on radio and TV this year and currently works for Belfast 89FM, swap Belfast for the Causeway coast. They're able to sample a version of what the life they think they want, but are also shown the true cost of moving - and the price. Will a week at one of the most scenic parts of Northern Ireland convince Robin he's ready for a simpler life?
What prompted you to appear on the show?
Pauline: Well truthfully we had been talking about a more simplified life. We lived in Tenerife for a year back in 2015 and always continued to crave that lifestyle here which is more relaxed, outdoors and away from the city. So when this opportunity came up it felt like it was heaven sent, exactly what we needed.
Had you been feeling that it was a good time to leave Belfast?
Robin: Yes absolutely. Especially because of Covid, our work had been transferred to online and we could see that life as we knew it was now in the past and that those dreams of living by the sea or in the country could actually be facilitated easily. Pauline can continue her teaching singing online and we are both writing books at the minute so more remote living would be perfect. Of course, my radio and TV work can also be done from home and we have proven this through The Big Show at Home with Robin & Pauline on NVTV.
What were your most pressing concerns about moving to the coast?
Pauline: I am worried that Robin will have me taking him to Belfast daily for gigs which would defeat the whole purpose. So I suppose I am worried that although Robin loves the idea of living by the sea, the reality is that I am not sure that he can leave his showbiz lifestyle.
What were the benefits of living on the coast?
Pauline: Most importantly the health benefits outweigh everything. Going for long walks along the stunning North Coast would keep us fit as we are both trying to lead a healthier lifestyle. Robin was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes last year and I have suffered with depression most of my life and walking and being out in the elements is really good for my mental health.
What was your favourite part of the experience?
Pauline: Definitely horse riding. I had experienced that many years ago and always wanted to learn how to ride properly and felt that it was so therapeutic getting to know the horse.
Robin: I have never learnt to drive as I have been fearful to learn, and the production team surprised me with a driving lesson on a race track. Due to Covid restrictions the instructor couldn't sit in the car with me and had to speak to me through an ear piece. So my first experience of driving was definitely getting thrown in at that deep end.
Did you have any misconceptions about a less city-focused life?
Robin: We didn't realise that we could actually get a detached house for our budget albeit realistically we knew we couldn't get right on the water.
What surprised you about trialling coastal life?
Pauline: I was surprised at how overwhelmed emotionally that I got. There are lots of tears in the programme, happy ones, relief. We knew how gorgeous the north coast was but we learnt a lot more about Ballycastle and the truly amazing scenery.
Wanted: A Simple Life is on BBC1 NI today at 11am