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Happy 100th Birthday to Newcastle's People's Theatre

Chris Jackson | 17:08 UK time, Monday, 7 February 2011

When you reach a century you normally get a nice message from the Queen. However with the People's Theatre in Newcastle the stars are queueing up to offer their congratulations.

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TV detective Kevin Whately is a former member of the People's and he says if he had not joined the amateur group he might have stayed an accountant all his life!

In the latest episode of Inside Out to be screened at 19:30 GMT on Monday, 07 February 2011 Kevin returns to the theatre he joined in 1971.

As you know I front the show, but I do also go behind the camera to produce some of the films.

Chris Jackson and Kevin Whately outside the People's Theatre in Newcastle

Needless to say, on this particular project I had a great time working with the world-renowned TV sleuth and, for that matter, the entire gang at the theatre.

Kevin went backstage to meet the cast rehearsing Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw.

They're an amazing lot. Not only do they hold down day jobs, they take the theatre very seriously indeed.

Alison Carr and Kevin Whately outside the box office

In the film Kevin buys tickets from Alison Carr.

When she's not in the box office or on stage acting, she writes plays.

One of her recent works was staged by the National Theatre in London and is about to open on Tyneside.

You can catch Can Cause Death at Northern Stage on 16 and 17 February 2011.

Perhaps it all goes back to Shaw.

He was a big fan of the People's Theatre after seeing them put on a production of his work.

The theatre group began in 1911 as a fundraising effort by the Newcastle branch of the British Socialist Party.

They were able to bring in cash whilst choosing plays to spread a left-wing message.

As Kevin discovers the socialist principles have long gone, but the group still puts on plays that commercial theatres won't.

Their next production is Beauty Queen of Leenane on 14-19 February 2011

Theirs is a fascinating 100 year old history. And that century old murder plot we mention in the film? Well, Kevin meets theatre historian Chris Goulding who reveals that founding member Norman Veitch told his band of fledgling actors back in 1911: "If we are going to murder plays, then let's murder the best!" 

As well as the birthday message video at the top of this blog post, I am including some bonus material that's not in the Inside Out film itself.

There's a longer chat with former youth theatre member Ross Noble...


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And a full length interview with actor Kevin Whately:

In order to see this content you need to have both Javascript enabled and Flash installed. Visit BBC Webwise for full instructions. If you're reading via RSS, you'll need to visit the blog to access this content.


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