My idyllic new life, by Michael Crawford: Moving to New Zealand restored star's health
10:17 GMT, 12 March 2012
New horizons: Michael Crawford has found a new calm in his life in New Zealand
Michael Crawford told yesterday how he has been leading a secluded life in a small town on the other side of the world where he is known as Mike and his best friend is a dairy farmer.
The 70-year-old Some Mothers Do ’Ave ’Em star said moving to New Zealand had done wonders for his health and cured him of the chronic fatigue which he once feared would end his career.
Instead of ‘worrying about the future’ he now enjoys putting the world to rights in chats with his farmer friend and taking each day at a time.
From his small house by the beach near Auckland he goes sailing and fishing every day and has discovered the joys of gardening.
Crawford, who is divorced, is also able to make regular trips to Australia where one of his two daughters lives in Sydney with her husband and three children.
Crawford became a huge star as hapless Frank Spencer in the 1970s BBC sitcom Some Mothers Do ’Ave ’Em and went on to play the title role in the original production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera.
He went to live in New Zealand five years ago after being diagnosed with myalgic encephalomyelitis, also known as ME or chronic fatigue syndrome.
Stunning: Crawford lives near the idyllic Bay Of Islands in New Zealand's Northland
Although he changed his diet and tried various herbs, nothing proved to be more effective than easing up on the pressures he had put on his life.
‘I decided to relocate from Britain to get healthy and smell the roses,’ he said.
‘If you want solitude you can find it here and people are very respectful of that,’ he said of New Zealand which is home to tens of thousands of British migrants.
'You make mates who are in completely different areas of life to yourself. My best mate here is a dairy farmer and we talk every night for about 20 minutes about God knows what, sorting the world out, and we go sailing.
Stage star: Crawford starred in the original production of the Phantom of the Opera (pictured with Sarah Brightman)
‘They know me as Mike. It’s always Michael in England – it’s more formal.’
Crawford had to have a hip replaced after falling on stage in the 1990s. Then in 2004 he played the obese Count Fosco in Lloyd Webber’s musical The Woman In White, but his rubber fat-suit made him sweat so much he became dangerously dehydrated and vulnerable to a virus.
His immune system broke down and this led to ME.
However, last year he returned to the West End for the first time in seven years, playing the Wizard of Oz in Lloyd Webber’s lavish production at the London Palladium.