A Hebburn man who had a role in one of the most talked-about films of the year has told of his delight after it scooped a Bafta.
Ken Loach’s picture I, Daniel Blake – which takes an unflinching look at life in the UK benefits system – won the Best British Film award.
One of the named actors in the film was Mick Laffey, 47, from Hebburn.
Mick bagged himself a role after he and fellow volunteers at Hebburn Town Football Club were offered the chance to audition.
He was handed the part of a welfare benefits advisor, despite having no prior acting experience, while his dad Billy – chairman of the football club – got a role as an extra.
Fellow Hebburn volunteers Ricky Bainbridge and Davy Gill were also involved.
It’ll most likely be my one and only film, and to be involved was absolutely amazingMick Laffey
On the film’s Bafta award, Mick said: “I’m absolutely delighted, and it’s totally deserved for all concerned.
“When we were doing the film, never in a million years did I expect all of this to happen. I didn’t realise it would be so popular.
“Everything, from getting the part, doing the film, going to Cannes for the film festival, introducing Ken Loach to my wife and mam at the Newcastle premiere, has been remarkable.
“It’ll most likely be my one and only film, and to be involved was absolutely amazing.”
The film is set in Newcastle, and in his acceptance speech, director Mr Loach hit out at the government.
He said: “Thank you to the academy for endorsing the truths of what the film says, which hundreds and thousands of people in this country know, the most vulnerable and poorest are treated by the government with a callous brutality that is disgraceful, a brutality that extends to keeping out refugee children we promised to help and that’s a disgrace too.
“Films can do many things, they can entertain, terrify, they can make us laugh and tell us something about the real world we live in - sorry it’s early for a political speech - and in that real world it’s getting darker and in the struggle that is coming between rich and poor and the wealthy and the privileged and the big corporations and politicians who speak for them.”
On Mr Loach, solicitor Mick added: “The things Ken Loach said in his acceptance speech...he’s like that all the time. We could do with a lot more people like him.
“I’m absolutely made up for him and everyone involved in the film.
“Ken is an absolute legend of a man.
“He’s the nicest bloke you could ever wish to meet and I wish him all the best.”