Vera, Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot to feature in new Investigating Detectives exhibition at The Word in South Shields

Vera, Sherlock Holmes and Miss Marple are just some of the world-famous super sleuths to come under the spotlight when a South Shields’ The Word reopens its exhibition space.

Friday, 15th October 2021, 11:12 am
Updated Friday, 15th October 2021, 11:13 am

The large ground-floor display room at the centre reopens on Thursday, October 21, with the launch of ‘Investigating Detectives’ – an interactive tribute to crime solvers from the worlds of literature, film and television.

The launch of the exhibition was postponed due to the onset of the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdown in March 2020.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The Investigating Detectives exhibition at The Word, South Shields.

Investigating Detectives was originally scheduled to launch in 2020, to coincide with the 130th anniversary of Agatha Christie, and 100 years since the publication of her first novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, which introduced Hercule Poirot.

The year also marked 90 years since the death of Arthur Conan Doyle, author of Sherlock Holmes.

Visitors to The Word will be able to step into Christie’s Orient Express-themed film space and explore Sherlock Holmes’ Baker Street office.

The free exhibition will also give visitors the opportunity to find out more about characters such as Hercule Poirot, Columbo and Inspector Morse as well explore the public’s fascination with crime and examine the forensics used by real-life detectives to catch killers.

The Investigating Detectives exhibition will open at The Word, South Shields.

Exhibits also include the actual typewriter used by Agatha Christie, an original Poirot manuscript and a genuine costume worn by Vera actress, Brenda Blethyn.

In addition, there is a section on North East detectives, with a film about the life and work of local crime writer and author of Vera, Ann Cleeves as well as a variety of interactive activities for visitors of all ages.

These include the chance for people to pose for a police ‘mugshot,’ test their eyewitness skills and examine their own fingerprints under a microscope.

Display boards also give an insight into how the crime and detective literary genre has changed over the decades. Another area illustrates detective-inspired films and programming for children.

The Investigating Detectives exhibition at The Word, South Shields.

Aside to the Investigating Detectives exhibition, a new sound installation in The Word’s smaller exhibition pod invites visitors to listen to sounds and music that draw their inspiration from detective fiction. Variations on a Theme of Agatha Christie has been created by composer, sound artist and writer John Kefala Kerr and features contributions from local school children and library groups.

The creative team behind Investigating Detectives is leading North East design agency, Sheridan Design, which has delivered previous exhibitions at The Word, including Sir Ridley Scott: Past Present and Future Visionary; Shiver Me Timbers: Pirates on Page, Stage and Screen; Monsters! The Good, The Bad and The Cuddly and the hugely successful Amazing Space.

The company has also created an online version of Investigating Detectives which will be available to access via The Word website at

Councillor Joan Atkinson, deputy Leader of South Tyneside Council with responsibility for Culture and Leisure, said: “We are delighted to be opening the exhibition area once again and we finally get to unveil our Investigating Detectives display.

The Investigating Detectives exhibition at The Word, South Shields.

“Stories involving fictional detectives continue to be as popular as ever and this fantastic exhibition gives a fascinating insight into our favourite characters and their authors with lots of interactive crime-busting techniques for visitors to explore.

"It also examines the enduring appeal of detective stories, from classic novels to present day television series, and everything in between.”

She added: “The pandemic has enabled us to explore the possibilities of creating thought-provoking alternatives to in-person viewings by offering a digital version for audiences to enjoy from the comfort of their own homes.

“The new digital Investigating Detectives follows on from the success of the online re-creation of our Shiver Me Timbers exhibition in offering a virtual experience that brings the content alive.

“We appreciate that some people may prefer to access the exhibits online at this time. However, those who would like to view the display in person are welcome to come along. There is no need to book.”

Support your Gazette and become a subscriber today. Enjoy unlimited access to local news, the latest football stories and new puzzles every day. With a digital subscription, you can see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Click here to subscribe.

The Investigating Detectives exhibition at The Word, South Shields.