Local Films – Local History

Gateshead Car ParkThe announcement of imminent (26 July) demolition of the (in)famous “Get Carter” car park in Gateshead, got me thinking about the wonderful glimpses into the past of our region which this great film (movie) provides. I couldn’t resist watching the DVD again – in fact I did so twice and will probably do so again very soon. Virtually every scene showed places I knew so well – and many, of course, are now no more or have changed beyond recognition.

My mind turned to my other favourite Tyneside-based films “Payroll” and “The Clouded Yellow” which show the region in earlier times. I’d had both on VHS, but they’d long ago gone the way of all old technology – in the bin – and I’d not replaced them with DVDs. So, on Wednesday evening, I ordered both from Amazon and they arrived this morning. I’ve already watched both.

Payroll” shows many fascinating views of the Tyneside of 1961 – a very different Tyneside from that of 1971 (Get Carter). I’d forgotten just how much and how quickly things changed during the 1960s.

Yet, despite the changes, the Tyneside shown in “Payroll” was still a very familiar Tyneside – something I cannot say about all the scenes in my other favourite, “The Clouded Yellow“, which shows the Newcastle of 1950, the year I started school. Yes, the Central Station, the trolley buses, the Jesmond roads are quite familiar, but the film also shows some dark and dingy alleys leading down to the river, places I’ve never seen and would never want to have seen, and it shows the Quayside in its hey-day. What a sight!

As a young child I can vaguely remember being taken around the Quayside Sunday Market with Paddy’s Market beyond – and yes, there were many ships tied up, but I’ve never seen the amazing hustle and bustle shown in the film. Our heroes, Jean Simmons and Trevor Howard, hotly pursued by police and the Secret Service, actually arrive in Newcastle by ship. Yes, by ship!!!

So which films show the region as it was? I know of several:

Clouded Yellow 1950 (Jean Simmons, Trevor Howard, Kenneth More)
Payroll 1961 (Michael Craig, Billie Whitelaw, William Lucas)
Get Carter 1971 (Michael Caine, Brit Ekland, John Osborne)
The Likely Lads 1976 (James Bolam, Rodney Bewes)
Stormy Monday 1988 (Melanie Griffith, Sting, Sean Bean)
Billy Elliott 2000 (Jamie Bell, Julie Walters)

Does anyone know of any others? I’m really looking for examples which show the region as the back-drop to a story – not films like “Harry Potter…” or “Alien 3” which use locations in the region completely out of context, though it might be interesting to note those too.

5 thoughts on “Local Films – Local History

  1. Hi Brian, not sure if this fits in with your list but the film of the Catherine Cookson’s book Colour Blind was filmed in Hartington Street, Gateshead before it was pulled down, it starred Niamh Cussack, Tony Armatrading and Joe Caffrey.



  2. Hi Sandra – It’s really films which use Newcastle as a contemporary setting that I’m after rather than historic drama, but it’s interesting to note those too. Since my post Anthea has mentioned the 1939 film “On the Night of the Fire” starring Ralph Richardson which is fascinating. The easily recognisable locations are very few, but there are a number of other outdoor scenes which may well be local and are potentially identifiable. More recently I’ve been made aware of a few more films set in the area – perhaps a new post is called for?


  3. hi brian and everyone in rowlands gill who new me as pauline newton have been here in brisbane australia qld now 32 years i enjoy reading your history of the north east thanks and happy new year to all


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