TYNE DOCK BORDERS documentary about Tyne Dock in the North East of England.

Growing up in the shadow of Tyne Dock arches, bombing around the streets on my Grifter, playing football on St Mary’s field and as a teenager, a member of Tyne Dock Youth Club in South Shields.

The club had a film night every Sunday. No matter what film was screening I’d get a chair and plonk myself down at the front. The films were projected from a room at the back of the hall. The pictures, colour and sound were gripping. Three films stand out from those nights – Carrie by Stephen King, Monty Pythons Life of Brian and Duel by Stephen Spielberg.  


On my Grifter in front of Tyne Dock Arches being demolished in October 1977.

Around 2007 I started researching my family tree with the Local Studies Library in South Shields a great resource. Putting the story together I knew of a family connection to Ireland, but never realised the full impact that the Irish had on the North East and in my case, Jarrow.

The research led to making Little Ireland. The documentary is available to watch on my You Tube channel.

Since then, I’ve filmed a lot around South Tyneside recording stories by local people recalling memories of their hometown. Skuetenders, War Stories, Home from Home, Westoe Rose and Secrets & Lies.

It’s been interesting to uncover and record stories that would have been lost or forgotten.

The documentary Tyne Dock Borders filmed late 2011, includes interviews with residents from this industrial part of South Shields. They remember the railways, arches and ‘colourful’ part of the town.

Also featured are two famous people who were born in the area – author Catherine Cookson and James Mitchell – creator of BBC tv series When the Boat Comes In.

To view the film go to the ALIKIVI You Tube channel and subscribe to watch more.

Gary Alikivi  2018.

RUN FOR HOME with North East actor & musician Michael McNally


How important are the arts in the North East ?

’Times have changed and opportunities in the Arts seem to have become more limited. The traditional route for actors, via drama school, now favours only those whose families can afford the expense of London based education.

As a result, far less working-class actors are breaking through.

Funding for theatre in education is almost non-existent and schools are encouraged to undervalue drama and music in the mainstream. Sad times in my opinion as young people need access to the arts just as much as they need access to health and fitness.

Without an outlet for our creativity, we stifle our imaginations and become frustrated robots’.

How did you get interested in music ?

‘The first year of my life, 1963, was spent in Gateshead but I always regard myself as a ‘Jarra lad’ because the next 17 formative years were spent in Jarrow. I was surrounded by music.

My dad who had served his time at Reyrolles and become a Pattern Maker (similar to a Draughtsman), was an accomplished singer, composer and musician.

During my early childhood, I would often wake to hear him return from night shift and start playing guitar, singing softly, sometimes Vincent by Donovan or one of his own compositions.

It may seem odd, but I looked forward to being woken in the middle of the night to hear this comforting sound. I don’t even know if he realised that I could hear him.

My dad was restless and would soon leave his secure and reasonably well-paid job at Reyrolles and take the risky step of turning professional, performing in a thriving North East, working men’s club scene.

The culture of most catholic families in Jarrow was for children to perform musical party pieces at social gatherings. My younger brother, Anthony, and I would sing songs my dad had written at such events, often performing the wrong lyrics accidentally.

I recall one occasion with everyone stifling their laughter in an attempt to protect our feelings when we sang the wrong word; instead of ‘parting’, we sang ‘farting’. We were only 5 or 6 years old. So my first and major musical influence was and still is, my dad, Michael’.


Who were you listening to ?

‘As a kid, there were remnants of the ’40s and ’50s hanging around like the Inkspots who were sentimental but tongue in cheek at the same time. I still like to listen to them.

Moving from the ’50s to ’60s, lots of rock ‘n roll, particularly Elvis, Buddy Holly, Eddy Cochrane and Roy Orbison. The Beatles were brilliant, particularly John Lennon.

I also felt a buzz listening to Hendrix, Free and The Doors. The ’70s were such a clash of styles. There was all that funk from the States, The Jacksons fronted by the remarkably talented Michael Jackson, the squeaky clean, coiffured Osmond’s, the second manufactured boy band after the Monkees, the Bay City Rollers etc.

Prog rock and YES with Rick Wakeman on keys, first experienced on the Old Grey Whistle Test on BBC2 blew me away.

In the mid ’70s I heard Steely Dan for the first time and loved the albums, Can’t Buy a Thrill and the Royal Scam. Then there was Bowie!! I loved everything he did’. 

When did you play your first gigs ?

‘My first instrument was piano. I started lessons at the age of 6. I really wanted to be a drummer but my brother got the kit as he didn’t like piano lessons.

Ironically, he still ended up a better keyboard player than me! I play guitar and bass too but rarely these days.

When I was 17, I formed a band with my best mate at school, Dave Morton called Private Collection. We played school concerts and anywhere that would have us. Good times.

Between the age 10-18, I played the clubs with my dad and brother in Mike Mason and the Little People. You might wonder why the surname changed from McNally in the stage name.

Well, we toured Scotland every summer and played a lot of ‘Orange’ clubs. My dad had been advised by an agent, years before, to play safe with a name that wouldn’t arouse suspicions about our Irish heritage.

We toured as a headline act at the same time as Cannon and Ball, The Krankies and Little and Large haha!

1977 and the Sex Pistols changed everything. Popular music was being punched full in the face. Bands like the Clash, Undertones and Buzzcocks hugely impacted on young people, encouraging them to pick up an instrument and thrash it loud and hard with attitude.

Although I was performing what could be described as ‘cabaret’, this music and the emotion behind it really appealed to me. I think I found a lot of the mainstream music unctuous and superficial. Punk meant revolution and it was exciting!’

Who are you listening to now ? 

’I have continued to have an eclectic taste in music. I love classical music when I am chilling, jazz sometimes when I am travelling and hearing some of my son, Luc McNally’s Scottish Folk music.

I like the Killers, Arctic Monkeys and Vampire Weekend introduced to me by my daughter Ellen.


Michael with Bob Smeaton on set of the 1983 film ‘Accounts’.

How did you get into acting ?

‘I left the family show at 18 to study. I started a Law degree in Newcastle. My plan was to be a solicitor but play in a band at the same time.

Having successfully completed my first year in 1983, I auditioned and was cast in a leading role for a Film on Four called Accounts, written by Michael Wilcox. Bob Smeaton and I played brothers in this beautifully written piece set in the Scottish Borders.

Bob has achieved some remarkable things in his career including Emmy awards for producing music documentaries. I took a sabbatical for a year to make the film but never returned to my studies.

Once the film was shown and well received, I was offered representation by London agents. I made a huge decision and moved to the Capital’.


Early scene in Coronation Street.

‘I managed to survive a steep learning curve and found work in television and theatre. My first repertory experience was as the narrator in a musical version of The Piper of Hamelin at Liverpool Playhouse.

Next was Andy Capp at Newcastle Playhouse in ’85, and work at Royal Court and Royal Shakespeare Company. As soon as I finished a job there were always opportunities for the next.

Whilst playing Jacky Milburn in Wor Jacky at Newcastle Playhouse in 1989, I was invited to Tyne Tees TV to discuss a series which required a presenter. As a result, I got my first presenting job in a show called McNally.

I made 13 programmes and had a fantastic time being paid to do what I enjoyed most, meeting interesting people and having adventures’.

What does music mean to you ?

‘Music is an escape, a freedom from whatever ties us down. It can be the medicine we require to soothe or the motivation to move. Without it we are monotone, bland and sad’. 

What are you up to now ?

’Musically, I am playing keyboards in local band, The Moobs! We have a large following in the region and play songs that get crowds excited and on their feet.

Watch out for ‘The Running Show‘, which I will be presenting with Tony ‘The Fridge’ and others, coming soon!’ 


On stage with The Moobs.

Interview by Gary Alikivi August 2018

SKUETENDERS – documentary about The Lawe, South Shields.


Over seven years – 2009-2016 – I produced over 20 documentaries around South Tyneside. I never received any funding to produce the films, each DVD was sold to help fund the next one.

Little Ireland’ in 2009 sold well and was sent to ex-pat’s around Europe, Canada and Australia but ‘Skuetenders’ was the most successful. I’ve lost count the number of copies sold, it’ll be around 800. 

The length of any programme can differ from very short adverts to full length films of 100 minutes plus. It depends on the story that you are telling. An interesting documentary on tv can be turned into just a number of soundbites.

They can tell the story but rush over some really good bits with the interviewee talking for less than 10 seconds. I’ve watched a few.

When I had the idea to make a documentary around the Lawe Top in South Shields I didn’t want it to be full of soundbites. I wanted the interviewee’s to have enough time to tell their story. Not only was it important what they had to say but it was all in the Geordie accent.

The idea was to wander around The Lawe Top collecting stories from residents with a narrator explaining the history of this oldest part of South Shields, it even has a Roman fort.  

As with all documentaries made over the seven years, arrangements were made with Hildred Whale at the South Shields Heritage Club to screen the film in the library.

Downstairs had a great theatre with over 100+ raked seats, a stage, large screen, video projector hanging from the ceiling and projection room with VHS and DVD players. It also had an audio mixing desk and mic’s for invited speakers. A great set up.

A date for the first screening on 2pm 19th October 2011 was arranged and that quickly sold out. A later show at 7pm was added. That sold out. Another date was added. Same again, a quick sell out. This was repeated until the film was shown six times.

Further evidence of a thirst that people have to see and hear stories from their hometown. The documentary had a running time of 70 minutes and was repeated in the next documentary ‘Tyne Dock Borders’. Another area of the town with a long history. 

To view the edited film go to the ALIKIVI You Tube channel and subscribe to watch more.

Gary Alikivi August 2018.

LITTLE IRELAND – documentary on Irish immigration into Jarrow, UK


Sarah McFadden, (7th from left) my Great Grandmother, at Haggies Rope Works, in Willington Quay, Wallsend. A long way from Derry.

Little Ireland came about after I’d been researching my family tree in late 2007. I knew I had Irish background but not sure of the exact locations where they lived.

The Local Studies Library in South Shields was a great source for information. The filing system with the old press cuttings and the brilliant photographs by Amy Flagg and James Cleet of Tyneside in the 1930’s of area’s where some of my family lived after travelling from Ireland.

The old maps were really interesting. I could see where my Great Grandfather Dawson Downey from Derry lived. Bell Street, East Jarrow, across the road was the chemical works where he worked, next door was The Alkali pub and just up the road was St Bede’s Church. I thought thousands of families would be exactly the same. Never having to go very far. Living a small life.

I never realised the full impact that the Irish had on the North East and in my case, Jarrow. The population had grown so much around the 1890’s that the village became a small town.

I started to jot down a few notes when I read an article in The Shields Gazette in 2008 about Irish immigration written by Tom Kelly (Jarrow born playwright). I got in touch and we met up at The Customs House in South Shields. Quickly, a plan was made, a structure for a documentary and interviews with Jarrovians with Irish ancestry fell into place.

It wasn’t forced, it was easy to put together. 

We started filming at St Paul’s in East Jarrow. Tripod up, camera ready, Tom reading the opening lines from the script, but it didn’t feel right. We stopped and went back to my studio. Had a cup of coffee, talked about it then went out in his car again to Jarrow.

I started filming in his car and Tom started talking as he drove. This was more like it. Hand held felt more comfortable, being part of the film. As though an old Irishman had come back and was searching for his town ‘Like driving into the past’.

Over the next few weeks, I filmed interviews with people who had Irish relatives. For one interview I arranged to talk to singer Leo Connolly at his home in Jarrow.

I turned up, knocked on the door but got no answer. I knocked again and heard someone in the house. I looked through the front window and there they were. Two blokes with acoustic guitars and Leo in the middle singing his heart out. That was Little Ireland right there.

The documentary was successful it was screened for the first time to two sell out audiences at The Customs House on St Patricks Day 2009.

The film has been shown at various venues including St Bede’s Church Hall where most of the Irish, and my family, attended when they first came to Jarrow over 100 years ago.

Link to the documentary, to check out other films on You Tube subscribe to the channel.

Gary Alikivi   August 2018.

ZAMYATIN – Russian Link to Tyneside. New documentary.


The Shields Gazette journalist Peter French wrote on 17th August 2018

‘It’s a long way from St Petersburg to South Shields. But it was a journey once made by a young Russian, an author, who not only upset the Communist authorities back home, but whose work may have influenced the writing of one of this country’s most influential novels – ‘1984’ by George Orwell.

His name was Yevgeny Zamyatin and his story is now told in a new video produced by local film-maker Gary Alikivi (Wilkinson). The film, which can be viewed on YouTube, may be less than 10 minutes long, but like much of Gary’s work it is informative as well as thought-provoking.

Read more at: https://www.shieldsgazette.com/lifestyle/nostalgia/the-link-between-a-russian-visitor-to-south-shields-and-george-orwell-s-1984-1-9306630

Gary Alikivi  August 2018.

ON THE FRONT LINE – miners strike documentary


I was walking down King Street in South Shields when I noticed a group of lads walking up the street laughing, joking and looking as if they didn’t have a care in the world. I wondered if any of them had jobs?

Were they killing time until their next shift at work ? Or their next giro? This led me into thinking about the unemployment problem in my hometown. 

I sat down on a bench where two old men were. I overheard them talking about how they had spent their working lives down the mines. Westoe Colliery used to be nearby. Listening to their banter, made me think back to when the strike began in March 1984.

I was 18 at the time, about the same age as those young lads who passed earlier. It was always on the telly. Scargill, Thatcher, pickets and police. TV footage of the battle of Orgreave. Explosive scenes of a class war. 

Reality was that thousands of men weren’t working. There was no money coming in to pay bills and feed kids. How did their families survive?  Whole communities were brought to their knees due to financial insecurity. Families torn apart.

I thought it would be interesting to find how people coped in that time of crisis. People who were directly involved given a voice to record their cold, hard, bitter truths. 

During research for the film the stories that I heard were laughter, sadness, courage and pride. Some people didn’t want to talk about the strike, or for any of their comments to be recorded. After all these years feelings still ran deep. Emotional scars. 

The years have rolled on and out of the ashes of the pit’s new businesses and housing developments have appeared. But the mining industry will never be forgotten.

Link to the documentary and to check out other films on You Tube subscribe to my channel: 


Gary Alikivi.

OUT OF THE DARK in conversation with Newcastle artist Aidan Doyle


‘It was 1993 at Westoe Pit I was in there taking photographs. I was in there off and on over a year. The pit was ready for closure. Originally the purpose of the photo’s was to have some source material to do some paintings.

But as the closure became imminent, I began to take photos in their own right. For a record you know.

I began to develop techniques by taking photos in very little light, all the dark spaces. I must have about 10,000 negatives or there about’s.

During that time, I began to collect a lot of oral testimonials from the lads, and I realised what was being destroyed wasn’t just the pit’s themselves but the good humour amongst the lads.

The upshot of that was I was invited to do a book with Durham County Council and that led onto a PhD at Durham University’. 

I like paintings by Bacon, Goya and Valasquez, are there any artists that you admire ?

‘I tend to lean towards Caravaggio because he uses the approach called tenebrismo where a figure emerges from the darkness. I like paintings by Tintoretto from Venice and Jack Yeats from Ireland who does more like yer everyday life.

Not long ago I went to see a huge exhibition by Bacon at the Tate which left me cold, a lot was the same style’.

Do you stick to the same style ?

‘I try to remain faithful to what I’m trying to represent but if you look around, I’ve got figurative stuff and now becoming a little more abstract. (shows painting) Using how the light falls on the face’.

What got you interested in drawing, was it in your family ?

‘Not really, although a cousin of mine was in Detroit and painted cars on billboards. I was about 10 year old at St Albans school in Pelaw looking out the window and seen the tar works with a puffer train going in and out the factory.

The teacher sent me down the river with a great big piece of paper to draw the tar works. And for a lot of years that drawing hung on the wall in school.

Then I got into drawing people which was a challenge. I worked down Westoe pit in the 1970’s then done a degree in Fine Art. I worked as an artist and labourer a lot of the time. Also worked in theatres backstage moving the scenery around, and I used to draw the actors.

In 1986 I was working as the Artist in Residence at the Tyne Theatre. It had burned down and they invited me to document the re-building of the place – enjoyed that. I was also at the Ingham Infirmary in Shields for a year as Artist in Residence’. 

I met you a couple of years ago at The Central Library in South Shields what project were you working on ?

‘I was at the library as the building was being planned for closure. I drew some residents of the town that went there. Some notorious, others not so haha. I also collected a few testimonies from there.

They invited me back to draw and paint the building of the new library, The Word.

That was great to watch the construction of it especially during the winter. I did a bit of live drawing but worked a lot from photographs.

The men and women working there would stop and smile for the photo. It was nice they photocopied the drawings, blew them up and stuck them around the site’.

Have you got anything planned coming up soon?

‘Some of the negatives from the pit are being put in an archive at the refurbished St Hilda Pit Head in South Shields. The Heritage Lottery have funded the refurbishment. It was one of the last pits working on the Tyne.

Well I’ve done what I originally set out to do that’s make 100 or so oil paintings from my mining photographs and that’s created a body of work.

It would be great to exhibit the paintings in other mining areas around the world. Plus, I can make applications to the mining museums around the country to show the work.

I was always shown kindness from the lads in the pit, so I have to do right by them, play fair ya’ knaa’.

Interview by Gary Alikivi    August 2018.

SECRETS & LIES – Shields Gazette article on documentary about Baron Avro Manhattan


As the blog hits 35,000 views Journalist Peter French wrote in The Shields Gazette 7th August 2018….

The life and times of Avro Manhattan, an Italian born Baron whose artwork and writing made him friends and enemies throughout the world, and who chose to spend his final years, living with his wife in South Shields are truly fascinating. But don’t take my word for it – let the man himself reveal to you all about it’.

To read the story go to…www.shieldsgazette.com/lifestyle/nostalgia/hit-man-s-target-settled-in-south-shields-1-9288202

Or watch the documentary ‘SECRETS & LIES’ posted on 17th July 2018.

Gary Alikivi    August 2018.

LIFE IN A NORTHERN TOWN – in conversation with writer and TV producer Peter Mitchell


Peter Mitchell

‘Who shall have a fishy on a little dishy. Who shall have a fishy when the boat comes in’….lyrics to the opening tune from the TV series ‘When the Boat Comes In’ which first broadcast in January ’76.

Hearing the song it had a whiff of a twee sunda’ afternoon show playing straight after The Big Match and before Little House on the Prairie. I never saw it when it first hit our TV screens, was too busy watching The Sweeney.

But after catching it a few years ago the little twee telly show was actually a hard-hitting drama.

It deals with a soldier (Jack Ford played by James Bolam) returning from the 1st World War and his struggles with poverty and politics in the fictional town of Gallowshield in the North East of England.

The first episode ‘A Land fit for Heroes and Idiots’ sets the tone

‘In series one there were thirteen scripts in which my dad wrote seven. His creation, his characters, with other writers during the series. I was 16 and first watched it with my mother.

That first episode was quality drama. My mother turned to me and said, ‘You better go and ring your dad because he’s just done something remarkable’.

The programme was created by South Shields born James Mitchell and now his son Peter is adapting the show for theatre…

’The play is based on series one and begins with Jack returning from the war where he meets the Seaton family, Jessie and Billy trying to get him involved in politics, he falls in love with Jessie and the problems he gets into when dealing with industrial strikes’.


South Shields born Writer, James Mitchell.

Is there anybody out there today in business, political or celebrity world that you could compare to Jack Ford ? 

‘Do you know nobody has asked me that before. (Slight hesitation)….Well I’m not sure I should say this but…. I would say Donald Trump. (Both laugh)…Because love him or hate him. Trump can hold an audience. Massive ambition. Massive selfishness. What other people might call focus.

Great desire for more to the extent of not really caring about the consequences. A winner, an influencer, a persuader. I would say there’s a little bit of Jack inside Donald Trump’.


Jack Ford played by James Bolam.

Does the play reveal more about Jack ? 

‘He served all the way through the war and became staff sergeant but still didn’t have enough so signed up again. He joins the North Russia Expidiciary Force where he goes to Murmansk and does an extra year. It tells you a lot about Jack.

He’s alone the minute he comes back. All the friends he’s got are the ones he made in the army.

This is a man who has found a family in war and really the only thing he is good at, is war. He interacts with mates, union men, the upper crusts, politicians, a full spectrum of society. He has learnt to fit in with any group, but I don’t think he knows where he belongs.

All he knows is how to survive in any given circumstance. He sees a chance and takes the opportunity. You know it’s live for today and tomorrow you might die which is something you learn when you are in the trenches for four years’. 

The TV show aired on BBC1 and at its peak reached audiences of 15 million, with all four series available on DVD. Do the actors realise the enormity of what they are taking on ?

‘The cast are great, they are all young, as were the soldiers coming back from war. What is impressive is the energy and passion that they are bringing.

We had research and development, a read through, started rehearsals and in them I have seen new things brought to the play helped with Katy’s vision as director.

This is all Tyneside people, I’ve been massively impressed. There’s a great team working their socks off down there and that makes me feel good on behalf of my dad.

There will be a lot of people like you who have seen it on TV or DVD and there will be an element of expectation. But I want to go on a slightly new journey in the way it’s delivered.

What’s been lovely for me was working with Katy Weir the Director because I’ve seen some of her work before and really enjoyed it.

When we met, I was very impressed with some of her ideas, and I was very keen to have a woman direct because a woman has never directed When the Boat Comes In. In the ’70s when it was made there were no female directors in television and the series is full of very powerful women characters’.


The Seaton family with Jack in uniform.

I can confirm that. Some of the standout performances of the TV show are with women holding court.

Just check the performances from Jean Haywood playing Bella Seton, her daughter Jessie played by Susan Jameson and Rosalind Bailey who plays Sarah Headley. The writing and performances never drop pace.

In season four episode two contains an outstanding scene with Sarah and Jack where she tells him her husband and his best mate Matt has died….

’Yes, I love her character, Rosalind is a great actress. Excellent on the show. It’s been really interesting to revisit again and work out the characters with the same basic arc of the story but transform it onto the stage.

Mechanics of stage are different to what I’ve been used to as my background is in journalism and television’. 

How did you get interested in writing and eventually working in TV?

‘Well, I’m a Shields lad who went to the Grammar school. Unfortunately, my parents divorced in 1966 so I was travelling down to London on weekends to see my dad who was a published author by then.

My mam Norma was a schoolteacher in Shields and looked after me and my brother Simon. She never re-married, it was her and her boys you know.

My mam was a wonderful, devoted woman and a natural born teacher. Plus, a great actress. She performed at The Peoples Theatre in Newcastle, also at the Westovians and met my father at Cleadon Village Amateur dramatic club.

They both had a love of the arts so there was a bit of showbiz in my life from when I was young.

But I was really interested in journalism so after University I got a job at a weekly newspaper in Chesire, then an evening paper in Carlisle.

A few years later I was in London freelancing for national papers and researching for London Weekend Television. Then I saw an advert for a researcher at Tyne Tees TV, applied and got it.

Great times there and worked on screen drama, mostly documentary then promoted to Director of programmes until I left in 1997.

Then I was at Zenith North where programmes like Byker Grove and Dale’s Diaries were made – loved working on that. Then had my own production company and done a bit of media consultancy work.

My career path has always been about screen work so theatre is a new challenge finding out how it all works’. 


During the TV series some scenes were shot outside The Customs House in South Shields and that’s where the play is being performed…

’Yes, it’s come home in many ways, very pleased about that. Ray Spencer (Director at Customs House) and I talked about the possibility four years ago and I was going to write a treatment for it.

Then a London based production company were interested in buying the rights. While we were negotiating with them we couldn’t go forward with the theatre side.

They took out an option with a time limit but never did anything with it, never commissioned any scripts. So, when the time expired, I rang Ray back up and said how about we look at it again. The timing feels right, it’s 100 years after the war. He said great let’s do it’.

‘When the Boat Comes In’ is on from Thursday 16th – Saturday 25th August for tickets contact   https://www.customshouse.co.uk/theatre/when-the-boat-comes-in/

Interview by Gary Alikivi   July 2018.


Yevgeny_Zamyatin-3 copy 2

Diary entry 12th December 2016: Reading a post by Leslie Hurst on the Orwell Society blog, a possible link between Russian Yevgeny Zamyatin, author George Orwell and his wife Eileen O’Shaughnessy.

Zamyatin was an author, he also supervised the building of icebreakers for the Russian Navy in Tyneside shipyards in 1916. Looked into this and found Zamyatin an interesting character and worth following up. 

Monday morning jumped on a metro to Newcastle City Library to check out Zamyatin’s link to Tyneside. Got the lift up to the local history section on the 6th floor asked the library assistant if they had any material about him. She came back from the archive with three pieces of information, dates and index number.

There was a local biography note, a page from Alan Myers book ‘Myers Literary Guide to the North East’ and a date of an article in the Journal from September 19th, 1988. These were all photocopied. 

Within 20 minutes I had found what I was looking for. Normally in local history there is a bit searching, photocopy runs out of paper, the microfiche is difficult to thread and it’s running slow etc., but no it all went very smoothly.

Then went out into the town with grey skies and a spit of rain. Over the road I caught sight of some graffiti. I had my small Canon camera with me so nipped over and took a few pics.

The slogans were on the back of a muti storey car park with small slits for windows. Brutal architecture. Very East European. Amongst the slogans was a red hammer and sickle ! Went straight to Waterstones and bought a copy of Zamyatins novel ‘We’.


While working on this blog during 2017 I put aside the Zamyatin project until I had more time. Then in May this year started to fully research and write the script. 

Diary entry 4th June 2018: Got on the metro to Jesmond and found the address where Zamyatin was living when he worked on Tyneside. As I went to knock on the door the owner walked up the path. That was fortunate. Introduced myself and told her what I was there for.

We talked for 10 minutes about Zamyatin then exchanged contacts. Took photos outside the house and the blue plaque on the wall. Then walked about 5 mins to St Andrews Cemetery to see the headstone of Eileen, Orwell’s wife. The grave is in good nick with flowers planted nearby. Did Eileen have any contact with Zamyatin ?

A short script was put together using A Soviet Heretic by D.J.Richards. The narration was recorded at The Customs Space studio in South Shields.

Tyneside actor’s Iain Cunningham with Jonathan Cash adding the voice of Zamyatin. Again, as on many projects North East musician John Clavering captured the mood.

Gary Alikivi   July 2018.