When The Boat Comes In to sail back to The Customs House for theatre’s 25th birthday

The cast of When The Boat Comes In (top, left to right) Luke Maddison, Sarah Balfour, Alice''Stokoe, Charlie Richmond (bottom, l-r) Steve Byron, Jamie Brown, Anna Bolton, Janine''Birkett and Matt Howdon.
The cast of When The Boat Comes In (top, left to right) Luke Maddison, Sarah Balfour, Alice''Stokoe, Charlie Richmond (bottom, l-r) Steve Byron, Jamie Brown, Anna Bolton, Janine''Birkett and Matt Howdon.

A classic stage adaption of a legendary TV show is set to dock at a theatre in South Tyneside, for a second time – with the same cast and director at the helm.

The production of When the Boat Comes In - based on the iconic BBC TV series- had its world premiere at the Customs House, in Mill Dam, South Shields, in August last year, with its 10-day run playing to sell-out audiences.

It returns to The Customs House - from Wednesday, March 13, to Sunday, March 17 - as part of the theatre’s 25th anniversary celebrations.

It will be followed by When the Boat Comes In: The Hungry Years in September.

Award-winning actor Jamie Brown (The Machine Gunners, The Man and the Donkey, Hadaway Harry) will reprise his role as Jack Ford in the gritty Tyneside-based drama, while West End actress Alice Stokoe (Mamma Mia, American Idiot, Sister Act) returns as Jessie Seaton.

Steve Byron will play Bill Seaton and Janine Birkett, whose film and TV credits include Billy Elliott, Coronation Street and Inspector George Gently, will play Bella Seaton.

Tom Seaton will once again be played by Luke Maddison (Leaving, Geordie the Musical), Matt Headley by Charlie Richmond (The Last Ship, The Machine Gunners, My Uncle Freddie),

Dolly Mather by Anna Bolton (Emmerdale, Doctors) and Mary Routledge/Mrs Scrimgour by Academy of Live and Recorded Arts graduate Sarah Balfour (Hyem).

Director Katy Weir said: “I’m extremely excited over the return of When the Boat Comes In. It had such a positive response last time from those that had watched it on television first time round and those new to the story.

“I think what makes it special is that at the heart of the story is family, love and hardship, something that affects us all. There’s also a large amount of Geordie spirit.”

When the Boat Comes In, which ran on TV from 1976 to 1981, and follows the fortunes of Jack Ford in the inter-war years on Tyneside, as he returns home from the war to find little has changed in the fictional town of Gallowshield.

The place he left behind is still battling against poverty, ill-health, unemployment and discrimination and he yearns for something more.

He has his sights set on the high life and is determined to get what he wants, whatever the cost.

When the Boat Comes In was written by James Mitchell, whose son, Peter, a former journalist and TV producer, has adapted it for the stage.

It was ground-breaking for its time, as it was the first mainstream TV series to be set in the north east and was filmed on location in the region, featuring local actors, including Sunderland-born James Bolam as Jack Ford.

At its peak, it attracted 15 million viewers and received several BAFTA nominations, including two for best drama series.

Tickets for When the Boat Comes In and When the Boat Comes In: The Hungry Years are priced from £16 and available from the box office.