Two million tune in to South Shields as top BBC show broadcasts live from seafront

Denise Welch

Denise Welch

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Celebrities descended on South Tyneside for talk of saveloys, seagulls and other South Shields delights as a top BBC show broadcast live from the borough.

Saturday Live stars Richard Coles and Aasmah Mir hosted the show from the Westovians’ Pier Pavilion theatre, with guests including actress Denise Welch, Olympian and Great North

Richard Coles

Richard Coles

Run founder Brendan Foster, and our own Ray Spence.

The hosts and some of their guests, including fish and chip expert Graham Young, dined at Colmans on Ocean Road the night before the show, with Mr Young giving it a big thumbs up.

Coles, the former Commundards star turned reverend and Celebrity Masterchef contestant, told the audience: “We have monkey’s blood, kets, a bag of whelks and a press pass for the shuggy boats, as we broadcast Saturday Live from South Shields.”

Customs House director Ray Spence appeared on the show before heading off to lead the South Tyneside Summer Festival Parade – turning up for the show in his madcap nautical-themed fancy dress, complete with stuffed seagull on his shoulder.

He regaled the audience with tales of his adventures in parades and panto, as well as South Shields’ claims to fame.

“It’s 50 years in 2018 since I was in the first (parade) ever, and the thing that happens is at 1pm on parade day - the clock chimes and then it rains,” he said.

“The youth club I was in had spent a lot of time making crepe paper bunting and paper mache to go over the back of a coal lorry.

“And then at 1pm it rained, and we passed the dignitaries just with a mash of black pulp, and all the children covered in dye from the paper.”

He also talked about his panto career, including performances in Sweden, and how it all began at the Pier Pavillion.

“If it wasn’t for this place I would never have got into theatre,” he said. “It’s a lovely feeling to be on this stage.”

Saturday Live is a weekly magazine show broadcast on Radio 4. It has listening figures of 2.1million, making it one of the Beeb’s most popular shows.

Actress Denise Welch talked about her experiences growing up, working and leaving and returning to the North East, and outlined a new drama series to be set in North Shields about crime scene cleaners.

She also mentioned how the video her single “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me” was recorded in a South Shields nightclub - and went on to be named among the worst ever made.

Brendan Foster talked on his career, and the founding of the Great North Run, which famously ends in South Shields, and the show also featured music from folk band The Wilson Family.