Film ID:
NEFA 10680



Visitor Tabs


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