HIT comedy show Hebburn returns to our TV screens next week.
Gazette reporter VICKI NEWMAN was given exclusive behind-the-scenes access during filming for the show earlier this year, and now she has had a sneak preview of the first two episodes of its eagerly-awaited second series.
Here, she tells Gazette readers to expect laughs galore.
A sitcom filmed in South Tyneside returns to the small screen next week – and it’s even better than it was first time round.
The second series of Hebburn kicks off on BBC2 on Tuesday night, and the Gazette has been given an advance look at the first two episodes of the show, penned by Hebburn’s own Jason Cook.
As a Hebburn lass, I was unbelievably excited when news of this programme broke, and seeing the streets where I grew up immortalised on the telly was just amazing.
The show has so much heart that, to me, it was no surprise that it was commissioned for a second series.
The programme is based on Jason’s own experiences of growing up in the town.
It tells the story of Jack Pearson, played by South Shields comic Chris Ramsey, after he moves from Hebburn to the bright lights of Manchester and secretly ties the knot with middle-class Jewish girl, Sarah, portrayed by Kimberley Nixon.
After falling on hard times, the couple move back to Hebburn to live with Jack’s parents Pauline and Joe, played by Gina McKee and Jim Moir, better known as Vic Reeves, and his sister Vicki, portrayed by Lisa McGrillis.
Pauline was upset to find out about Jack and Sarah’s secret Las Vegas wedding, and grandmother Dot, played by Pat Dunn, stepped in to save the day by offering to pay for a second service.
In the meantime, Sarah found out she was pregnant, as did Victoria Elliott’s character Denise after entering into a relationship with Ramsey, played by Jason, 40.
The emotional finale of the series saw Joe suffer a stroke and rushed to hospital in an ambulance.
Although Jason has sworn me to secrecy about what happens in the first two episodes of the new series, what I can tell you is how much I loved them.
The show, co-written by Graham Duff, looks sharper, and it just feels bigger and better than the first series. It has a bigger budget, and that shows.
The first couple of episodes see Joe recovering from his stroke, Pauline taking on the role of breadwinner, Sarah and Denise coping with their pregnancies, Jack settling into his new job as editor of the Hebburn Advertiser, and Vicki trying to better herself.
After one series of watching their every move, I feel like I know the characters now, and watching them reach milestones and overcome struggles is heartwarming.
The series also sees supporting characters such as pub singer Gervaise, portrayed by Neil Grainger, and Steffen Peddie as Big Keith, taking a step to the forefront and becoming a bigger part of the show – and they’re both brilliant.
Hebburn was Chris’s first acting job, and it seemed to take him a couple of episodes to feel completely comfortable in the role, but he’s really come into his own in the new series, and it’s clear that he was perfect for the part.
The episodes have twists and turns that will throw viewers and that same typical Geordie humour, perfectly balancing drama and comedy.
There are also some fantastic cameo appearances from well-known Geordie and South Tyneside actors – and more are promised later in the series – but again I’m sworn to secrecy.
You’ll just have to wait and see, but I urge you to tune in.
Hebburn is heartwarming, uplifting, funny and charming, and as Jason himself describes it, it truly is a love letter to the town.
Hebburn will be shown on BBC2 on Tuesday at 10pm.