World-renowned film director Danny Boyle captivated an audience in South Shields last night.
The film-maker and theatre director, who also masterminded the London Olympics’ opening and closing ceremonies, was the speaker at the annual South Shields Lecture, held at Harton Technology College.
The event – organised by former South Shields MP and ex-Foreign Secretary David Miliband – attracted a crowd of about 500.
And they were enthralled as Danny took them through some of the key events of his life and career, including directing smash hit films including Trainspotting, Slumdog Millionaire and 28 Days Later.
Danny said: “When you get a level of success in the industry I work in, you get invited to lots of big events in London.
“They are great, but I come from just outside Manchester and you want to go back and speak to people who you grew up with, and their equivalents around the country, and talk about the experiences you’ve had and the values you feel are important. I love doing events like this.
"I just wanted to talk with people in South Shields about what they make of things, ranging from Brexit to the Olympics opening ceremony.”
Danny is the latest in a long line of well-known faces to appear at the South Shields Lecture, the first of which took place in 2001.
Actor Sir Patrick Stewart, musician Sting, comedian and writer David Walliams, comedienne Jo Brand and former Prime Minister Tony Blair are among those to have spoken at the event in the past.
For Mr Miliband, he was the ideal person to invite.
He said: “I’m thrilled that Danny came to South Shields to deliver the lecture.
“When I wrote to him and asked if he would do the South Shields lecture, his first response was ‘why haven’t you invited me before?’
“He is an iconic cultural figure. I was talking to my wife and said that it’s the year of Brexit, and we’ve been asking each other where the spirit of 2012 went.
“Danny captured the spirit of 2012 and it seemed like he was the ideal person to come and provide a commentary on the state of the nation and state of the world.
“It is a real privilege that he came here.”
Danny took the audience on a history of his life, from his upbringing in Bury, near Manchester, to the greatest successes of his career, including Trainspotting and Slumdog Millionaire.
Slumdog Millionaire won eight Academy Awards, including the Academy Award for best director, while Danny also won the Golden Globe and BAFTA Award for best director.
He spoke in particular length about the work which went into creating the opening ceremony for the 2012 Olympic Games, held in London.
One item of the ceremony saw actor Daniel Craig – playing James Bond – collect the Queen from Buckingham Palace and take her via helicopter to the Olympic Stadium. Danny told of how the Queen became involved – and insisted that she played a full part rather than an actress.
Mr Miliband, meanwhile, continues to return to South Shields every year to hold the lecture.
Still the president of South Shields FC, he wished the team well ahead of today’s huge FA Cup match against York City, and told of how he continues to follow the club’s fortunes from his new home in New York, where he is president and CEO of the International Rescue Committee.