Film ID: NEFA 21817 Video of NEFA 21817 Interview with Catherine Cookson SIX FIVE: INTERVIEW WITH CATHERINE COOKSON 1968 Visitor TabsDescription Reporter Marion Foster interviews the famous Jarrow author Catherine Cookson about her new book ‘The Round Tower’ and the north east character for the Tyne Tees Television Six Five news magazine transmitted 1 May 1968. The report opens on the Newcastle Quayside with Tyne Tees Television reporter Marion Foster walking with author Catherine Cookson. The Tyne Bridge is seen in the background. Catherine turns to Marion who asks why she chose Tyneside for the setting of her new novel ‘The Round Tower’? Catherine replies that she can’t write about any other place, it is the place where she was born, ‘I’m a Northerner!”. She didn’t always admit this as she left the region when she was 23 with no plans of returning. However, she believes she is a product of her early environment. Cookson is asked if her view of the region is out of date? She replies by saying that she brings people into the present day setting. She says that she still sees the same characters around Newcastle, the Shields or by the river she saw thirty years ago. The portrait of the Northerner is not only known by people in the south, but by ‘foreigners’ especially the Germans who love the Tynesider, especially ‘Mary Ann’. She doesn’t understand it. ‘They are sentimentalists’, but she sells more books in German than in English. General view of the Tyne Bridge and River Tyne. Marion asks Cookson how she feels when she comes back to the north east? She comes at least once a year, but hates travelling. The train journey takes all day which makes her feel dull. That is until she passes a wooded dell just outside Durham when she gets an excited feeling. She remembers getting the same feeling as a child travelling by train from Tyne Dock to Newcastle and thinks ‘E’ I’m home!’ Catherine is then asked if she thinks that as those in the north learn more about other parts of the country we are losing our regional identity? She believes not. ‘We are a different species; bumptious and arrogant, humorous and kind’. This is vital and will keep ‘the northerner’ alive. She finishes by saying that she will also always be a northerner. Context A rags to riches Tyneside author The best-selling author Catherine Cookson explains why she will always be ‘a child of the Tyne’. On her return to Tyneside in the 60s, the most popular British author of her age, Catherine Cookson, talks to reporter Marion Foster about the Geordie character and her nostalgia for home. “The northerner … we’re a different species.” Raised as Katie McMullen, the writer’s own tough childhood as an illegitimate Jarrow waif shaped her gritty stories about 19th century working-class hardship on the industrial Tyne and in rural County Durham that sold in their millions. Considered by one historian as the missing link between Charles Dickens and Irvine Welsh, by her critics as superior Mills and Boon, Cookson’s literature is rooted in her dark early life, born in South Shields in 1906, and brought up in the slums of East Jarrow. In 1930 J B Priestley thought the town ‘looked as if it had entered a perpetual penniless bleak Sabbath’. She wrote about the great polluted mud flat known as The Gut, where the Jarrow Slake meets the Tyne, the four ‘slime-dripping’ arches of Tyne Dock, the cranes of Palmers Shipyard, the built-up riverside of Temple Town and Holborn, and the collieries of Harton and Whitburn. In her own words, Cookson was ‘a child of the Tyne’ but she escaped to Hastings in 1929.