Restaurant review: familiar faces at The Anchor, Storrington

Ian and Elle Betchley in 24 Hours in the Past - a BBC One living history TV series

Ian and Elle Betchley in 24 Hours in the Past - a BBC One living history TV series

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If the new husband and wife team running The Anchor at Storrington look vaguely familiar, you are not suffering from deja vu.

Larger than life Ian and Elle Betchley have acquired global recognition thanks to the two prime time television shows they’ve appeared in.

And given their track record it won’t be long before Elle has volunteered them for a third starring role - although on past experience her husband will be the last to know!

When they ran the George and Dragon B&B at Princes Risborough, Buckinghamshire, they starred in Channel Four’s ‘Four In A Bed’ - the reality game show in which bed and breakfast owners compete to have theirs crowned the best value for money.

In their episode, they only narrowly missed coming first - but it was still to prove something of a life changing moment.

Even as the programme was first airing, Ian said the telephone was ringing off its hooks during the commercial breaks as people tried to book.

They also phoned up with some extraordinary requests.

Elle said: “Someone phoned in and asked where I got my handbag from!”

Ian added: “Some people even wanted pictures of our three sausage dogs that were shown on the TV. It’s like asking for pictures of your kids, isn’t it!”

As the episodes are repeated on a continual loop around the globe, they get recognised everywhere.

“We went to Barbados this year. Two girls came running up to us and said we watch Four In A Bed - was it you guys?” Elle said.

Since then they have also appeared in 24 Hours in the Past - a BBC One living history TV series first broadcast only a few weeks ago - where they recreated a day in the life of Victorian Britain.

Ann Widdecombe, former Conservative MP and cabinet minister, shared centre stage for their episode at a coaching inn.

Elle said: “We’re larger than life characters, but neither of us trained actors or actresses. We didn’t go on Four In A Bed to win - we went on it for the experience. And we absolutely loved it!”

Although they have only been at The Anchor 11 and a half weeks, they are already planning to inject some celebrity magic into the pub.

In July, Danny Posthill - an impressionist who nearly won this year’s Britain’s Got Talent final - is headlining their new comedy club. Tickets are just £3 on the door with wrist bracelets available in advance.

Live music evenings are also planned as part of the entertainments that is being lined up.

They have redecorated the pub, creating zones, adding a real sense of the contemporary to the traditional village pub, lightening the walls and reintroducing Sky TV in one area.

They are seeking to appeal to everyone. The new team at the helm have 30 years experience in the trade and want an environment where everyone feels safe and welcome.

Their experience with gastro pubs means that great food, locally sourced is one of the priorities.

In addition to a range of Sunday roasts, they have introduced a broad-based menu to cater for all tastes - and pockets.

Starters range in price from £4.95-£5.95 per person and include prawn cocktail, garlic mushrooms, loaded potato shells and an amazing garlic and rosemary camembert - baked to perfection. A larger £8.95 one is also available for two to share.

The whitebait with lemon mayonnaise - beautifully presented on a slate - was fresh and succulent.

All the Pub Classics are to be found on the mains - again keenly priced and most less than £10. Only the large fish and chips rose above that figure at £10.50 - but was a feast. We gave it an easy ten out of ten when we dined there for Sunday lunch.

There’s vegetarian and salads too - along with burgers, steaks and ribs. The children’s menu is particularly good value and means that a family meal out doesn’t have to break the bank.

A good selection of desserts all come in under a fiver - with the chocolate brownie and ice cream a homemade delight.

So if you haven’t visited The Anchor before - or for some time - go for a repeat visit.

And if you see a couple of familiar faces behind the bar - you’ll know where you last saw them ...

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