For a small town, Budleigh Salterton has been surprisingly well represented in popular culture. While some of the mentions of Budleigh Salterton in popular culture have been a bit ironic, the town has a special place for many authors and humourists looking to tap into its reputation for peace and quiet. What, then, are some of the major popular cultural appearances of Budleigh over the years?
Author J.K. Rowling was an undergraduate student at nearby Exeter University, and based many of the Harry Potter series’ locations on places in the area. Budleigh Salterton is (loosely) represented by the town Budleigh Babberton, which features in the book The Half Blood-Prince. However, the town’s inland spot might put it closer to East Budleigh than the Budleigh beachfront.
Budleigh is the hometown of Giles Wemmbley-Hogg, a clueless young man who travels around the world in Marcus Brigstocke’s radio series Giles Wemmbley-Hogg Goes Off. Other comedy mentions of Budleigh can be found in Blackadder the Third and Monty Python’s Flying Circus.
One of the more famous mentions of Budleigh comes in Noel Coward’s play and film Blithe Spirit. This 1940s farce features an author who’s haunted by the ghost of his first wife. When she berates him for having spent their honeymoon in Budleigh, the author replies with the fitting question ‘what’s the matter with Budleigh Salterton?’