With donkey jacket, beret and his distinctive North Yorkshire accent, Jim Moir – aka Vic Reeves – delighted Dartmouth last Friday.

He was briefly in town for the launch of ‘Hey Presto Swine!’ – a collection of his eccentric and surreal paintings, currently in Lower Street’s Dart Gallery.

Around 100 people attended the launch and many more passers-by caught a glimpse, and a selfie, of Jim in town.

As his alter ego Vic Reeves, Jim became a household name with his anarchic comedy in films, and TV shows, including Shooting Stars. But painting has always been his first love, especially painting birdlife.

At Friday’s launch he said: “Painting and looking at birds is all I did when I was a little kid. I ended up being in bands and running indie night clubs and things, and then ended up on telly being an actor. But really it’s always been about painting. I was brought up in rural North Yorkshire and just looked at birds growing up.

“I go out every day birding now. My general day is I start painting if I’ve got something in my mind or I’ll go birding then come back and paint.”

Jim attended art college before his media career kicked off. He returned to painting, at home with wife Nancy and their kids, before he was pulled back into TV work.

“I said I didn’t want to do TV, I was really happy just sitting in my studio painting pictures, not being far away from the family, and not being under any restrictions. But then I was asked to do an art show with Sky Arts, and I like them. They paid for me and Nancy to go away, look at birds and paint them - that’s what I call a good gig.”

Jim’s no stranger to Dartmouth, first visiting as a child with his uncle during filming of 1970’s TV drama The Onedin Line.

“My uncle Norman’s job was to find the paintings people have above their fireplaces – you know, like the Green Lady, paintings like that. I was on the set cos my uncle had to collect the painting of the boat from The Onedin Line to put into poster form. I’ve got photographs of me and The Onedin Line cast when I was about 12. I was going around with my box brownie taking pictures. I’ve a picture of Peter Gilmore, who had the lead, scowling at me as I was taking a picture ‘you bastard! How dare you photograph me!’”

Jim stayed in Dartmouth with Christian Slater and Leslie Philips while filming Churchill: The Hollywood Years, and is good friends with director Peter Richardson, who lives in the town.

“I’ve been in a few of Pete’s films so I’ve stayed at his house. I’ve just been with him now. He took me into Mark Hix’s restaurant, plied me with more wine than I should’ve had at this early stage, and with food. I love it here, it’s great.”

Dart Gallery Directors Ed Reach and Tom Butcher scooped the ‘Hey Presto Swine!’ collection after approaching Jim’s agent. They said: “We’re thrilled to be able to bring Jim and his art to Devon. Around 100 people came along to the private view and it was lovely to help so many fans of his work find their perfect painting.” The exhibition is running until November 10.