Comedian Jason Cook puts Hebburn on TV map
- 2 October 2012
- From the section Tyne & Wear
Hebburn is a six-part comedy show created by, starring and about Geordie stand-up comedian Jason Cook.
Set, as the name implies, in Hebburn, South Tyneside, the programme was made in order to "show the North East as having a bit of soul".
"I've tried to show the Hebburn I know - sometimes harsh, always heart-warming and always home. And, of course, better than Jarrow," he said.
Hebburn is based on the experiences of a young lad called Jack, based on Cook, and tribulations of his family the Pearsons.
Staring Vic Reeves, Chris Ramsey, Gina McKee and Kimberley Nixon, Cook takes a role as "lovable rogue Ramsey", a character inspired by Chris Ramsey who plays the young Jason Cook.
Realising the dream of a lot of stand-up comedians by writing Hebburn, 38-year-old Cook is following the footsteps of comics-turned-writer-actors such as Jerry Seinfeld and Ricky Gervais.
Cook said: "I've wanted to do this for so long, and now it's made, it is way better than I thought it would be. I still can't believe it's an actual telly programme I have made."
Having done "all right" at school, Cook studied engineering at South Shields College and joined the merchant navy, leaving his parents and a sister behind in Newcastle.
He made the move into stand-up comedy in 2005 as part of a sketch group called Soups, then in a duo with fellow Geordie Lee Fenwick in Die Clatterschenkfieternmaus.
In 2007 he went solo and received five-star reviews for his Edinburgh show, as well as winning the best international show category at the New Zealand International Comedy Festival, a title previously bestowed on Eddie Izzard.
Cook's Edinburgh shows over the past few years have won him further plaudits, and led him to festival invites across the world - and ultimately, back home to Hebburn.
He said: "I get to put my hometown on telly. It's not a story about wizards and elves, it's a thing that only someone from Hebburn could do. Madness. Even watching it again, it blows my mind."
Working with Gavin & Stacey director Chris Gernon, and Graham Duff, who wrote Ideal, the heat was on to create something special.
"I was terrified," said Cook. "I've written sketch shows and long story-based stand-up shows for years, but this is a whole different thing.
Because (production company) Baby Cow have a big thing about the writer having control, I was choosing the wallpaper, the ornaments in the house, everything.
"And the amount of pressure on set is incredible too, because if anyone has a question about anything in the script, all eyes are on you, no-one else.
"Of course I'm also in the show, which meant I was very, very busy on set. I remember my lunchtimes being six minutes long.
"I've watched it thousands of times now. I had to watch it at least four times before I could make any kind of notes, just to get over the fact I was watching myself.
"When we had finished filming and were starting the edit, I would get sent rough cuts on a Wednesday night to look over and go to London on the Thursday and Friday to fine-tune with the director.
"Then in the edit, we spent all day on just one episode, watching tiny bits over and over again.
"It was by far and away the most pressure I've ever had in my life, but at the same time I've never enjoyed myself so much. It's everything you work for."
Hebburn starts on BBC Two on 18 October, at 22:00 BST. It is a co-production between Baby Cow and Channel X.