Star-Struck with Sting

It’s not every day you get to meet your heroes. But decades ago, a star-struck schoolgirl from Stockton, fast tracked as a 16 year old co-presenter on the new Tyne Tees TV children’s programme Sunday Sundae, did just that. 

In 1981, a nervous Catriona Pettigrew found herself in a Newcastle studio with Tyneside born-and-raised singer Gordon Sumner, aka Sting, who was riding a wave of rock stardom with new wave band The Police after top ten hits such as Message in a Bottle, Roxanne, and their fourth album release Ghosts in the Machine.

She recalls seeing the pop star “walk across the office of Tyne Tees towards me and it was as if he was walking on air. He was so charismatic.’

Recently, North East Film Archive received a surprise call from an excited Cat Lewis (née Pettigrew) who had spotted her maiden name on a film record for the children’s show on the archive website.

The edition of Sunday Sundae was recently rediscovered in the archive vaults in its original box amongst thousands of Tyne Tees TV programmes and news reports on film stock. It was selected for digitisation as part of North East on Film, a fantastic new project supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

We invited Cat Lewis, now CEO and Executive Producer of her own media company, Nine Lives Media in Salford, to a personal screening of the original film and recorded her reactions on seeing herself with a very youthful Sting 38 years ago. This was her very first TV interview, which launched her on a successful career as a documentary producer.

After discovering North East Film Archive’s treasure trove of early regional programmes, Cat Lewis said: “I think it’s fantastic that they’ve been saved for posterity … because people can really connect with archive.”

Graham Relton, Archive Manager, North East Film Archive said: “North East on Film is all about re-connecting people and communities to their local and regional film heritage collections, so we were delighted when Cat got in touch. This is one of many stories the archive has learned about during the project, proving the power of film to move people in a very personal way. The Archive’s first job is to ensure these astonishing visual records are preserved and digitised, but where this work really comes alive is when we bring the films back to the communities in which they were made. We are hugely grateful to the National Lottery Heritage Fund for their support – and of course to every National Lottery player, as they are the people that make it all possible.” 

The Sunday Sundae interview with Sting is now available to view free on the NEFA website.