Sunday, 27 June 2010

Well said, Lynsey

I have been in a few times, and it is a great place. If I lived in Newcastle (still on the cards), I could definitely while away some time in there.

It is somewhat unlikely that it could form any sort of model for civic 'big society' projects, however. The private sector is not identified with learning and awareness of history today.


  1. Sounds cool, but I think if I went to Newcastle my first destination would be to wander outside and photograph 'the pink palace' broadcasting studio. From what I've seen it's a masterpiece of post-war brutalism.

  2. Yes, that's on Barrack Road, which links Fenham with the city centre.

    The Scandinavian style Civic Centre would be a must-see too. It is near the Leazes Park area too - which has a mix of Bath-like crescents and brutalist tower-blocks.

    It is one of the most architecturally interesting cities, definitely.

  3. Stupid question probably, but have you ever seen Get Carter? It's one of my favourite films, and think that the cinematographer and director really had a strong feel for the scenery in Newcastle. I especially liked that patriotic parade the kids have in the industrial wasteland; I think it reflected something we've lost and sums up how post-war Britain may have been skint, but still had personality.

  4. I certainly have - a crucial film in terms of the Britain of that time, just as faith in the future and 'progress' was beginning to ebb away.

    Fine use of Newcastle and other Tyneside locations (Hebburn, Pelaw, Gateshead etc.). This site seems to have the most exhaustive listing of all locations:

    There is much to said in connection with T. Dan Smith (Newcastle council leader in the 1960s), Amber Films and "Our Friends in the North" too (plus the likes of "Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads").

  5. Thanks for the link; in a sense I feel relieved that a lot of the locations have changed so little. I feel that the film's pessimism was given added depth by Caine's leaving Britain a few years later, because he didn't want to share his money with the state. And never mind the fact that Hodges seemed to make a line of wannabe American stinkers afterwards.

    I'll have to try and find some of Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads; I do like the older British sitcoms, which often had a gentle type of humour that doesn't seem to exist anymore.

    I can remember my dad told me the story of Grenada TV which was quite interesting: apparently Coronation Street was created by lefties who were essentially booted out of London.

    I've never heard of Amber Films; who were they?

  6. Yes, very right on the style of comedy changing - you had many comedies which managed to be both gentle and incisive: "Steptoe and Son", "Dad's Army", "Porridge", "Only Fools and Horses" (earlier series'), "Rising Damp", "The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin" (though this errs on the bleak a lot of the time; a key work for understanding the 1970s), etc. "The Likely Lads" shares a certain affinity with the work of north-east-centric TV writers such as James Mitchell and Alan Plater.

    "Auf Wiedersehen, Pet" was excellent and relevant in the 1980s, but when the BBC brought it back (it had been ITV) in the 2000s, it seemed out of time - Clement and La Frenais struggled to recapture the old warmth in the Blair era.

    Very perceptive points made regarding "Get Carter"; it does represent that 1970s move towards the self and the breaking down of notions of society and communality.

    Amber - a collective of filmmakers that was founded in Newcastle in the late 1960s, who dedicated themselves to capturing the area and working-class life in their documentary films. They own a small cinema, gallery and cafe (which has - or at least had when I was in - lovely food) on the Quayside, on one of the finer little streets in the city.

    They are still going, though key player Murray Martin died recently. I plan to watch far more of their films than I have so far; I've watched "Byker" and bits of many of their early, shorter documentaries, plus some of their Miners' Strike ones.