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.