British actor Michael Crawford says moving to a small town in New Zealand has restored his health.

Best known as Franks Spencer in Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em and as a Phantom of the Opera star, who is 70, moved to a coastal town near Auckland five years ago suffering from chronic fatigue.

He told Britain's Daily Mail newspaper the change of pace has rid him of the ME (myalgic encephalomyelitis) that was crippling him and threatened to end his career.

He told the paper he had been leading a secluded life in the unnamed town, people know him as `Mike', and his best friend is a dairy farmer.


From his small house by the beach he went sailing and fishing every day and had taken up gardening.

"I decided to relocate from Britain to get healthy and smell the roses," Crawford said.

"If you want solitude you can find it here and people are very respectful of that".

"You make mates that are in completely different areas of life to yourself from what you've grown up in. My best mate here is a dairy farmer and we talk like every night for about 20 minutes about God knows what, sorting the world out, and we go sailing. They know me as Mike.. It is nice because you are called different things in different countries. I'm Mike here ... . It's always Michael in England, it's more formal, but over here and in Oz it's Mike."

Crawford, who is divorced, also makes regular trips to Australia to visit one of his two daughters, who lives in Sydney with her husband and three children.

"I love coming over here, just sneaking off and going around the place,"he said.

"I love seeing my daughter and my grandkids and my son-in-law. It's good stuff."