Film ID: NEFA 10680 Video of NEFA 10680 About Britain - Scott Dobson in Search of Geordie ABOUT BRITAIN: SCOTT DOBSON IN SEARCH OF GEORDIE 1975 Visitor TabsDescription Local author, Scott Dobson, goes in search of the Geordie character. He looks at various aspects of the region that may have moulded the people - the coal mining, fishing and shipbuilding industries, and the dangers and poverty involved. Local humourist Dick Irwin contributes anecdotes and sketches. This Tyne Tees Television documentary in the About Britain series was originally broadcast on 6 August 1975. Title: About Britain The film begins with views of Newcastle city centre and the urban motorways ringing the city, introduced with Scott Dobson’s voice-over in a Geordie dialect. Exterior shot of Metro Radio building in Swalwell, Gateshead, with original sign. Scott Dobson is on the air at Metro Radio. Piece to camera about his quest to find the Geordie character. Title: Scott Dobson In Search of Geordie Droves of workers leave a Wallsend shipyard after their shift. Various shots record people including office workers in Newcastle city centre. In voiceover, Dobson says that Geordie humour and language is enjoying an upsurge in popularity. A poster in a bookshop advertises Scott Dobson and Dick Irwin event. Inside the bookshop, Dobson has a ventriloquist puppet, a cartoon dog version of a ‘typical’ Geordie. He and Dick Irwin chat with two women in the store. Some of their books are on display including ‘Larn Yersel Geordie’, ‘Geordie Joke Book, and ‘Geordie Laffs’. Irwin talks to Dobson about Geordie humour. Scott Dobson walks in the area around Amen Corner, The Black Gate and Castle Keep in Newcastle. [Billy Boy on soundtrack]. He enters a doorway to the Black Gate Restaurant. Dobson talks about Geordie food being peasant food, substantial, to cope with hearty appetites. Various shots show food being prepared in the restaurant kitchen. Interview with a chef who explains the development of ham and pease pudding as a local favourite (derived from Geordie’s feeding split yellow peas to their pigeons apparently). Comic sketch with Dick Irwin (dressed as a peasant woman in a white cotton bonnet). Cutaways of Newcastle United football team in action, including Malcolm MacDonald. Iinterview with Len Shackleton (who played for Newcastle United back in 1946) who talks about Geordie football fans: football is a religion to Geordies. More shots follow of Newcastle United in action and of the crowds of football fans in the stands. Scott Dobson visits the city walls of Newcastle, including Morden Tower in Back Stowell Street on the West Walls, home to the poets' club set up by Connie and Tom Pickard. Dobson explains that the derivation of the term Geordie comes from the time of the Jacobite rebellion when Newcastle held out for the German King George I (one of the many origins from which the term is said to derive). The next sequence is of the River Tyne, shot from a boat passing quaysides, Baltic Mills, Bergen Line ferry terminal, shipyards and ships under construction, Jarrow Slakes with St Paul's Monastery in the background, North Shields Fish Quay and the RNLI Lifeboat station. The Tyne is the heart of Geordie land. Comic sketch with Dick Irwin as a sailor. Title: End of Part One Title: In Search of Geordie Part Two The sea breaks over rocks. Scott Dobson walks along Blyth pier and along the beach. He talks about being born in Blyth, Northumberland. He walks around areas in the town. He knocks on the door of 'The Seven Stars' North Blyth and peers through the window. Comic sketch with Dick Irwin in front of a coal fire, talking about how hard things were at Christmas. Dobson walks down a street towards the High Light, a lighthouse at the rear of Bath Terrace, situated away from the shoreline [worked in conjunction with Low light and last used in 1985]. He then talks to the captain of a Blyth pilot boat about the dangers of going to sea. Dobson travels on the pilot boat, sailing out of Blyth Harbour in foggy weather. The fog horn sounds. The "Cymbeline" tanker is waiting to enter the River Tyne. The Tyne Pilot Martin Purvis (from a long family line of Tyne Pilots) climbs on board ship to help guide it. Dobson rides the pilot boat as it guides the tanker. Dobson talks to a group of fishermen at North Shields about the dangers of their job and about new legislation that is making life more difficult and expensive for the independent fisherman. General view of pithead winding gear in motion at a mine on Tyneside. A man operates levers to bring up the pit cage full of miners, looking grimy after their shift. This is still a dangerous and sordid job. Interview with local writer, Sid Chaplin, who was born in a pit village and became a pitman at the age of 15. He says the pit is as elemental as the sea, sometimes harsher. The men are tied to the pit, generation after generation. The interview is intercut with shots of men down a mine. Comic sketch with Dick Irwin as a miner. A sword dancing troupe perform to accordion music. Further views follow of the pithead winding tower and men going down to the coal face. general view of the memorial to the Hartley Pit Disaster of 1862 when many men and boys perished. Interview with Sid Chaplin continues: mining is still a chancy life. Views of miners at the end of their shift. Dobson approaches Backworth Miners' Welfare Club, a large house that used to belong to the pit boss. Ralph Coates sings a local song. Interview with composer Eric Boswell, who likes the rugged character of the people and places of the region. The two men then perform a song about the Geordie culture and the image of the people that prevails in the rest of the country. Dobson visits Stephenson's cottage and nearby, Killingworth New Town, where he talks about the modern estate being a hideous place, known locally as Alcatraz, as it resembles a prison block. The next shots compare new 60s tower blocks and modern architecture in Newcastle with the remaining historical buildings. He thinks the planners are really changing the face of Geordieland but doesn't think they'll ever change the spirit of the people. Comic sketch with Dick Irwin about keeping pigeons, in broad Geordie dialect. Credits follow over miscellaneous views of Newcastle upon Tyne. Credit: In Search of Geordie Scott Dobson with Dick Irwin Credit: Research and script: Heather Ging Credit: Sound: Ray Hole Credit: Film editor: Mike Pounder Credit: Executive producer: Leslie Barrett Credit: Director: Jeremy Lack Credit: TTTV Tyne Tees Colour Context Scott Dobson was born in Blythe in 1918 but soon after his birth his family relocated to Newcastle. Throughout his life, Dobson worked as a teacher, radio broadcaster, soldier and most prolifically as a writer on Geordie dialects and customs. His first Geordie dialect book, ‘Larn Yersel Geordie’ became the definitive work on the dialect and he continued to write countless more books, along with fellow Geordie writer Dick Irwin. Irwin was born in 1914 in Newcastle-upon-Tyne and co-wrote several books with Dobson and appears in this film contributing comedy sketches about the hardships of Geordie life but the humour that can be found within them. As well as being known as a writer, Irwin was also an actor, known for The Mallens (1979), Fords on Water (1983) and The Paper Lads (1977). Both Dobson and Irwin died in 1986. Other notable Geordies featured in the film include Sid Chaplin, Eric Boswell and Len Shackleton. Celebrated writer and novelist Sid Chaplin was born into a mining family in Shildon, County Durham, in 1916. Chaplin followed in his family’s footsteps and started working down the pits as a teenager, first at the Dean and Chapter Colliery in Ferryhill. An avid writer in his spare time, Chaplin won the Atlantic Award for Literature in 1947 for his collection of short stories, The Leaping Lad. Chaplin notably wrote for The Guardian, initially as a theatre critic but later his own social observation column, “Northern Accent”, where he lamented such topics as the decline of the cloth hat among the working classes. Chaplin continued to write fiction throughout this time, with his first novel The Day of the Sardine being published in 1961. This novel firmly established Chaplin as a key writer of the north, with many considering it the definitive story of a young working class lad growing up in an industrial town. (1). Towards the end of his life, Chaplin wrote two final collections of short stories and in the 1970s he contributed to the successful television dramas When The Boat Comes In, Funny Man and The Paper Lads as screenwriter. Chaplin reflects on and revisits his childhood town of Newfield, County Durham in the film A World of My Own: Sid Chaplin (1969). Born Eric Simpson in 1921 in Millfield Sunderland, Boswell relocated down south after earning his degree in Electrical Engineering from Sunderland Technical College. He went on to earn a second degree in Physics from Birkbeck College, London and joined Marconi as a radar scientist before becoming a Physics lecturer. In his spare time, Boswell enjoyed writing songs and eventually went on to write the children's Christmas song Little Donkey. Concerned his academic employers would disapprove of his extracurricular song-writing life, he chose the pen name Eric Boswell, derived from Boswell’s Drive in Chelmsford where he was living at the time, eventually changing it by deed poll. Boswell returned to the North East to teach at Sunderland Polytechnic and began writing folk songs about his native area. Along with Scott Dobson, Boswell was a regular contributor to the local cultural scene around Newcastle which was thriving in the 1970s. In the early 1980s, Boswell approached Tyneside novelist Catherine Cookson to adapt her semi-autobiographical novel Katie Mulholland into a stage musical which went on to be directed by Ken Hill for the 1983 Newcastle Festival at the Newcastle Playhouse. Bradford-born footballer Len Shackleton is generally regarded as one of the most entertaining English footballers. He signed for Bradford Park Avenue and was first picked for the England squad in 1946 against Scotland at Hampden. Losing 1-0, Shackleton gave away a free kick which allowed Jimmy Delaney to score the Scottish goal. He was not chosen to play for England again until September 1948 in the 0-0 game against Denmark in Copenhagen. In 1946 Newcastle United bought Shackleton from Bradford for the then huge sum of £13,000. He made a ‘spectacular debut’ at home, scoring at least 6 of the goals in the 13-0 win against Newport County. Shackleton helped Newcastle's promotion to Division One and the team's success in reaching the semi-final of the FA Cup that season. By 1947 Shackleton accepted transfer to Sunderland, where he opened a barbershop in the town as a side-business. On retirement, he became a sports journalist and moved to Grange-over-Sands in Cumbria where he wrote his notorious autobiography, ‘Return Of The Clown Prince,’ which became famous for a chapter headed “The Average Director's Knowledge Of Football”, consisting of just a blank page! (2) Dobson discusses the origins of the name Geordie to describe more specifically people from Newcastle, but more generally those from the North East of England. He notes that much of the Geordie dialect dates back to the Scandinavian invasion and that still today there are word that cross over languages. Two of the most famous Geordie phrases can indeed be traced to the languages of Norway and Sweden: a typical Geordie will tell you they are to ‘gan yhem’ if they are to ‘go home’, and the direct translation of ‘go home’ in Norwegian is to ‘gå hjem.’ Likewise, the endearing term for ‘child’ or ‘kid’ in the North East is ‘bairn,’ which is very similar to the Swedish word for ‘child’, ‘barn.’ While Dobson pays attention to the North Eastern delicacy of ham and pease pudding, the savoury dish made with split peas, there is a huge omission of the traditional North Eastern heavy, stodgy bread the ‘stottie cake.’ Similar to the Cornish pasty, the stottie or stotty cake is characterised by a thick crust which can be easily held by the hand of miners and labourers, making it a true North Eastern peasant dish. Traditionally the stottie was made with scraps of leftover dough by working class families in the coal-fired ovens that warmed the kitchens of the region’s terraced houses. The name derives from the Geordie word ‘stot’, meaning to throw, indicating the spongy bread should bounce when thrown. The most famous photograph of a stottie cake is that featuring one being eaten by Muhammad Ali, taken during a visit to Newcastle in 1977. Classically the stottie bread should be filled with ham and pease pudding, but it tastes equally as delicious dipped in homemade broth. (3) The new planned town of Killingworth is featured near the end of the film, juxtaposed with the historical quaintness of the Northumberland countryside. Killingworth, formerly Killingworth Township, is a town north of Newcastle, built as a planned town in the 1960s next to Killingworth Village. Construction began in 1963, intended to house 20,000 people on the site of a former mining community. Dobson compares the developers of Killingworth to the invaders of 1000 years ago, their radical approach to urban design resulting in what he and the locals refer to as Alcatraz; prison-like concrete blocks of high rise living. What would become known as brutalism, the stark and minimalist concrete design was hated by the community but was considered avant garde within the industry and would go on to win awards for architecture. As well as high rise housing, the new town of Killingworth consisted of offices, industrial units and service buildings, shops and multi-storey car parks, interconnected by ramps and walkways, known as ‘streets in the sky.’ The vast housing estate shown is Killingworth Towers, built in the early 1970's to a 'medieval castle-town' concept with 27 blocks of public housing set between 6-10 storeys high forming the 'castle walls' and the walkways above a lake likened to bridges over a moat. The Towers were not successful and were demolished in 1986-7 due to hatred by the community who actually lived there and the increasing crime that the planning was intended to prevent. The regeneration of the Newcastle and surrounding areas took place during T. Dan Smith’s controversial leadership of Newcastle City Council, with Wilfred Burns as Chief Planning Officer. Smith had a post-war modernist vision of the city; his grand plan for the future to ensure Newcastle became the ‘Brasilia of the North.’ Buildings such as Swan House, the Civic Centre, the Pearl and Killingworth Towers epitomise this modernist utopian vision for Newcastle. (4) References: (1) “Sid Chaplin at the Guardian.” - https://www.theguardian.com/society/the-northerner/2011/sep/09/sid-chaplin-guardian (2) Len Shackleton - https://www.theguardian.com/news/2000/nov/29/guardianobituaries.football (3) What is a stottie cake? - https://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/north-east-news/stottie-cake-life-times-north-13645034 (4) Carroll, Rutter. Ryder and Yates: Twentieth Century Architects. London: RIBA, 2009.