If yer looking for an original Christmas present to buy why not have a butchers at these books from North East authors who have featured on the blog.

A big influence on my life was watching and being in the audience of ‘80s live music show The Tube, so when I got a chance to talk to former music TV producer Chris Phipps I didn’t miss the opportunity…

“As an ex-BBC producer I initially only signed up for 3 months on this unknown programme and it became 5 years!

He gave me plenty of encouragement to carry on recording stories from the North East which I am grateful for, but sadly, not long after the interview, Chris passed away. He will be missed.

Chris wrote extensively and had an amazing knowledge of music and the entertainment business. He left an ‘unorthodox autobiography’ of five decades of celebrity and backstage stories from Ozzy to Madonna to Bob Marley in the book ‘Namedropper’.

The book is available at Newcastle City Library or through Amazon.

Growing up in the North East and obsessed with music was former White Heat frontman, now music documentary director Bob Smeaton I was working as a welder at Swan Hunter Shipyards when punk and new wave happened around 76/77 that’s when I started thinking I could possibly make a career out of music. The doors had been kicked wide open”.

What he couldn’t have imagined was having his moment on stage at Madison Square Gardens not as rock singer, but as a Grammy winner.

‘From Benwell Boy to 46th Beatle & Beyond’ is available on Amazon or can be ordered in Waterstones, Newcastle.

Earlier this year I read a great book ‘The Kremlin’s Geordie Spy’ and got in touch with the author Vin Arthey who told me…

Newcastle born William Fisher turned out to be a KGB spy, he used the name Rudolf Abel and was jailed for espionage in the United States in 1957. He was exchanged across Berlin’s Glienicke Bridge for the American U-2 pilot, Francis Gary Powers. The Tom Hanks film ‘Bridge of Spies’ tells the story of how it happened.

I have a few pristine copies of the Geordie Spy on my shelf but with p&p, it would come out at £10 more than the Amazon price”.

More than four decades after the first screening of James Mitchells iconic BBC TV series ‘When the Boat Comes In’, the creators son Peter Mitchell, has written a novel ‘Jack High’ which tells the story of Jack Ford’s missing years.

“This is a man who has found a family in war. He interacts with union men, upper crusts, politicians….all he knows is how to survive and when he sees a chance he takes the opportunity”.

Jack High’ is available through Amazon.

Gary Alikivi  December 2020.