Dock-umentary: Shields Ferry and Port of Tyne to feature in BBC Sea Cities series

Boatman Paul Ridley aboard his boat the Collingwood on the River Tyne. Photo by Tim Smith For the BBC series Sea Cities.
Boatman Paul Ridley aboard his boat the Collingwood on the River Tyne. Photo by Tim Smith For the BBC series Sea Cities.

River life in South Tyneside is set to make waves on national TV.

A new documentary programme called Sea Cities is due to be aired on BBC2 nationally next month and features five ports in the country.

The episode is rooted in the people of the North East.

Adam Keelan

Camera crews spent time filming at the Port of Tyne – capturing the everyday events as they happen at the port and surrounding area.

A taster episode will be shown on BBC1 North East and Cumbria at 4pm tomorrow – with the regional special featuring tea manufacturer Ringtons, one of the port’s customers – before the hour-long show will be aired on BBC2 at 7pm on Friday, February 5.

Sea Cities Tyneside follows the Port of Tyne’s engineering team as they maintain plant and equipment, service a 70m-high container gantry crane and prepare to open the Swing Bridge in Newcastle.

Also included in the episode is the port’s Pilot Boat crew, a team competing in the Great North Run, and the arrival of the world’s largest car carrier Höegh Target.

A Port of Tyne spokesman said: “The programme starts and finishes with our pilot boat crew. It follows our boatman Paul Ridley as he prepares to run the Great North Run along with a team of runners from the Port of Tyne.

“It also features the Oceania Cruise ship Marina arriving last August and passengers disembarking to explore North East England.

“It follows our engineering team as their service our state-of-the-art container gantry crane and later prepare to open the Swing Bridge and our team welcoming the world’s largest car carrier on its maiden voyage.”

The programme also features offshore fabrication company OGN, South Tyneside Marine School, the Old Low Light heritage centre and the Shields Ferry.

Adam Keelan, series producer for Sea Cities, said: “Sea Cities takes viewers on a journey into the beating heart of sea and riverside communities.

“The Tyneside episode is rooted in the people of the North East and communities connected to the Tyne – representing passions and an enthusiasm for their professions.”

TV spotlight on Shields Ferry

The Shields Ferry will show the country just how ship-shape its service really is.

The ferry and its crew will also feature on the fly-on-the-wall documentary about everyday life on the river Tyne,

Ferry crew members Chris McGuinness, Stephen Beck and David Purvis will appear prominently along with the Shields Ferry Manager Carol Timlin.

Chris’s uncanny likeness to the Geordie musician Sting was a major attraction for the producers.

The BBC were keen to show how the Ferry copes with the queues after Great North Run – their busiest day of the year.

Shields Ferry Manager, Carol Timlin, said: “We’re all really looking forward to seeing the programme.

“We gave the BBC full access to film us at work over a number of days last summer and it all went really well.

“It will be a hugely positive look at the ferry operation and will give national exposure to an iconic service on the River Tyne.”

Sea Cities producer, Andy Smythe, said: “The guys were so good – they’ve made the entire film and they are great characters.

“When programme makers are given the latitude to allow people to be themselves, it’s refreshing and shows the best of the region.

“Chris is hilarious and had good banter with Dave Purvis, and Carol is very professional and business-like.”