Welcome to part two of our series of posts about Yorkshire and the North of England. Last time we explored the best views in the Lake District but now we’re heading North East to the cosmopolitan city of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne.
What’s the first thing that pops into your head when you hear about Newcastle? Is it the Geordie accent? Quad-vods? The scenic view of the river Tyne? Newcastle Brown Ale? Though they are all wonderful parts of this wonderful city, in this post, we’re going through the five degrees of separation (yes it’s a thing) to demonstrate five things that tourists and residents can give thanks to Newcastle.
1) Ant & Dec
Whether you love them, hate them or are completely indifferent, you can’t ignore Ant & Dec. This famous Newcastle duo win so many awards on the National Television Awards they may as well have seats directly on the stage. Ant & Dec took the British entertainment industry by storm in their early acting, early music and later presenting.
As evident by their Geordie accents, Ant & Dec have never lost their Newcastle roots, even kicking off their Saturday Night Takeaway Live Show in the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle. This is a great place to visit when in the Tyne and Wear area, featuring everything from the X factor live tour to Russell Howard’s comedy.
2) Byker Grove
If we can thank Newcastle for Ant & Dec, then we have to thank Byker Grove for bringing them to our attention. And who shall we blame (sorry, I mean praise) for this? Why we’re back to good old Newcastle.
Byker Grove ran for 18 series over 17 years and entertained masses on the BBC. It was set in the Byker region of Newcastle, even though most of the production was actually done in the Benwell area. Fans of the show who are visiting Newcastle are able to visit backdrops like the famous Byker Wall, or the Mitre in Benwell, also known as Benwell Tower, which was the home of the Byker Grove youth club.
3) Hadrian’s Wall
Hadrian’s Wall really needs no introduction, but can you guess the link between this and Byker Grove? If you’ve got it, then ring up Richard on Pointless and sign up for the next show because you have some wicked knowledge.
For the rest of us mere mortals, the connection between Byker Grove and Hadrian’s Wall is …. Benwell, where Byker Grove was filmed. Benwell comes from ‘Bynnewalle’ which roughly means ‘behind the wall’. And what wall would that be? Hadrian’s of course. You actually have to travel a little outside Newcastle-upon-Tyne to reach it but isn’t this Roman remnant, famous the world over, worth the extra couple of miles?
Hadrian’s Wall stretches from the Solway Coast in Cumbria to Wallsend, outside of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne. You can visit Hadrian’s Wall at any point in its 80 mile length, but if you like history and you were a mega-Byker Grove fan, then you can kill two birds with one stone visiting outside of Newcastle.
As you’ve just seen the Tyne and Wear stretch of Hadrian’s Wall lands in Wallsend (and I think we can all guess why it’s called that). And who came from Wallsend? Not a wasp or bee sting, it was the Sting. The one that’s considerably more famous than Byker Grove, Ant & Dec AND possibly Hadrian’s Wall.
This former teacher and mega rock god, who’s actually called Gordon Thomas Sumner, was born in Wallsend and attended school in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne. Sting is arguably Newcastle’s most famous export and if you’re looking for a reason to be closer to your hero or to see what inspired his early music, take a walk around Newcastle and soak up the culture.
5) Rowan Atkinson
A more tenuous link, but a link none the less! If Sting is musical god then Rowan Atkinson is a god, no, patron of British comedy. And we British do like a dry, sarcastic, often ironic and sometimes slapstick laugh. Enter Mr Bean, and my personal favourite, The Black Adder.
Now how is Rowan Atkinson related to Newcastle if he’s from County Durham? Well they are next door to each other… A hairsbreadth away really….
Not having it? Fine. Well, did you know that Rowan Atkinson attended the prestigious University of Newcastle which enabled him to go for his MSci at Oxford, which is where he met Richard Curtis (writing partner on Black Adder). Newcastle University campus is in central Newcastle, just outside of the city centre. Students here have the luxury of shopping, eating and going out in the city right by their campus, and of course they get a first rate education too.
But we can thank Newcastle University for giving Rowan Atkinson his degree, going off to Oxford, meeting Richard Curtis and providing us with Black Adder. I don’t think that’s a stretch really.
Finally, do you want the connection between Rowan Atkinson and Ant & Dec? They were both in Love Actually of course, but that has nothing to do with Newcastle.
If you are planning a visit to Newcastle this November, make sure to visit Eldon Square Shopping Centre where the beautiful Christmas lights will be twinkling away from 23rd November. And if you can make it up there for the 23rd a special, green ogre will be pulling the switch.