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Teesside actor Mark Benton stars in his first stage musiclal at Sunderland Empire

Teesside actor Mark Benton stars in his first stage musiclal at Sunderland Empire

Teessider Mark Benton,47, has been on our TV screens for 20 years and forged a career as a top character actor. Now he's back in Sunderland in his first stage musical in Hairspray. He talks to Michael Hamilton   MH: Tell me how your new role came about. Mark: They approached my when I was doing the TV show Waterloo Road. I thought it would be a great adventure. It’s a bit of a departure for me because it’s my first musical and my first drag role – I don’t believe in doing things by half! I

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Northumbrian piper Kathryn Tickell calls the tune. She talks about her music, family and Sting

Northumbrian piper Kathryn Tickell calls the tune. She talks about her music, family

Celebrated Northumbrian composer Kathryn Tickell - who picked up Musician of the Year at the 2013 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards for the second time in ten years - talks about her music, her family and Sting. Read the archive interview and listen to her online talking about My Favourite Place - the song inspired by her mum. By Michael Hamilton Picture copyright Graham Oliver Kathryn steps off stage at the world-famous Carnegie Hall in New York after playing a sell-out show w

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A Northern Soul - Middlesbrough superstar Paul Rodgers interview

A Northern Soul - Middlesbrough superstar Paul Rodgers interview

Teesside superstar Paul Rodgers is the finest blues and soul singer of his generation. He's back in Newcastle in April on his new solso tour and Michael Hamilton caught up with him. . Tell me why you moved the Newcastle gig from the City Hall to the Arena. Paul: We switched the gig from Newcastle City Hall (capacity 2,000) to the Arena (capacity 11,000) simply to accommodate everybody. I love the City Hall. It’s always had a great atmosphere and I have great memories of playing there

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Folk on the Tyne - Ray Laidlaw on the 40th anniversary of cult North East band Lindisfarne

Folk on the Tyne - Ray Laidlaw on the 40th anniversary of cult North East band Lindis

It's 40 years since Tyneside folk-rock legends Lindisfarne changed the face of music with their debut album Nicely Out of Tune. The original band - dubbed the Seventies' Beatles - line-up was: Alan Hull singer and guitarist, Ray 'Jacka' Jackson on harmonica and mandolin, Rod Clements on bass, Si Cowe on guitar and Ray Laidlaw on drums. They hit the big time with their No. 1 album Fog on the Tyne and Geordie yearning anthem Run for Home. Founder member Ray Laidlaw takes a trip down memory lane wi

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Geordie band Lindisfarne 40 years on - what are they doing now?

Geordie band Lindisfarne 40 years on - what are they doing now?

Fog on the Tyne - 40 years onIt's 40 years since Tyneside folk-rock legends Lindisfarne changed the face of music with their debut album Nicely Out of Tune.  The original band - dubbed the Seventies' Beatles - line-up was: Alan Hull singer and guitarist, Ray 'Jacka' Jackson on harmonica and mandolin, Rod Clements on bass, Si Cowe on guitar and Ray Laidlaw on drums.    Michael Hamilton catches up with the surviving members of the original line-up and finds out what they are up to

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Newcastle blues legend Eric Burdon talks about his early days and The Animals

Newcastle blues legend Eric Burdon talks about his early days and The Animals

Newcastle-born Eric Burdon is the finest blues singer of his generation. As lead singer of the chart-topping Animals his fame rivalled that of The Beatles and The Stones in the Sixties.Now living in California, he is still touring and making records at 69. He plays a rare hometown gig at Newcastle's O2 Academy on August 8. He gave this exclusive interview to Michael Hamilton. All Eric Burdon pictures copyright Marianna Proestou The Animals pictures copyright John Steel MH: T

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Animals star Alan Price reveals the proudest day of his life - when Sunderland won the FA cup in 1973

Animals star Alan Price reveals the proudest day of his life - when Sunderland won th

North East singing legend Alan Price – who has had a string of massive hits in a 40-year career – reveals the best day of his life was when Sunderland won the FA Cup in 1973. This year is the 40th anniversary of the famous cup giant-killing act. Lifelong Black Cats fan Alan, who shot to fame in the Sixties with The Animals, says: ‘I’ll never forget that day. I was there.’ The Fatfield-born keyboards ace, who arranged the famous Animals hit House of the Rising Sun, even battled his fear of

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Middlesbrough superstar Chris Rea speaks exclusively about recovering from illness and his return to touring

Middlesbrough superstar Chris Rea speaks exclusively about recovering from illness an

The Road to Hell and backMichael Hamilton talks to the smoky-voiced singer, songwriter and guitarist Chris Rea - he plays Newcastle City Hall on March 17 & 18, 2010 - about his surprise comeback after illness (*This interview was recorded during his last UK tour in 2008)   Middlesbrough superstar Chris Rea, who stared death in the face at the turn of the millennium, is defiant when he declares:  ‘I’ll keep going as long as I can. It gives me something to live and breathe for. I jus

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Wild at Heart TV star Stephen Tompkinson talks about growing up in Stockton

Wild at Heart TV star Stephen Tompkinson talks about growing up in Stockton

Wild at Heart star Stephen Tompkinson is one of the most in-demand actors on TV. He talks to Michael Hamilton about his telly fame and growing up in Stockton-on-Tees MH: What are your childhood memories? Stephen: My dad worked for the Yorkshire Bank so we moved to Scarborough when he was made assistant manager and I was about four. A few years later he got his first branch as a manager and we moved to St. Anne’s near Blackpool. We are a very close family. Before mam and

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Superstar Bryan Ferry talks about his early days in Newcastle and how the North East shaped his life

Superstar Bryan Ferry talks about his early days in Newcastle and how the North East

Superstar Bryan Ferry is the king of cool. But the suave lounge lizard has never forgotten his humble working-class upbringing in Washington and how the North East shaped his life. Exclusive interview by Michael Hamilton Pictures courtesy of Bryan Ferry MH: Can you tell me what you have coming up? Bryan: We are releasing a ‘Best Of Bryan Ferry’ compilation album (it’s out on November 23) and my new studio album should be ready for release in spring next year. We ar

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North East guitar legend Mark Knopfler is a tireless worker for charity. Now he's giving money to the Poppy Appeal.

North East guitar legend Mark Knopfler is a tireless worker for charity. Now he's giv

 Guitar hero Mark Knopfler has sold an astonishing 120 million albums in a 30-year showbusiness career in which he led Eighties supergroup Dire Straits to phenomenal success. But away from the rock and roll razzmatazz he is a very private man.  His new album Get Lucky is out now and all proceeds from the singles Remembrance Day and Piper to the End will go to the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal. Profile by Michael Hamilton Mark Knopfler stepped out of the shade, into th

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30 Years of Quadrophenia - Director Franc Roddam, from Teesside, speaks

30 Years of Quadrophenia - Director Franc Roddam, from Teesside, speaks

Hollywood director Franc Roddam - from Norton, Stockton-on-Tees - made his name with the iconic 1979 movie Quadropenia. A new stage play celebrates the 30th anniversary Exclusive interview by Michael Hamilton MH: How did you get involved with the movie? Franc: I’d directed a film for TV called Dummy which won a Prix Italia drama prize, and the producer of Quadrophenia, Roy Baird, was looking for someone to direct

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Geordie Hairy Biker Si King reveals the stories behind the hit BBC telly show

Geordie Hairy Biker Si King reveals the stories behind the hit BBC telly show

King of the roadTelly stars Si King and Dave Myers have become firm UK favourites with their hilarious Hairy Bikers show. In an exclusive interview, Geordie Si reveals the stories behind the hit BBC TV series.  By Michael Hamilton Pictures courtesy of the Hairy Bikers Geordie Si King and Lancashire lad Dave Myers have been pals for more than 20 years. They originally met while working on TV and film sets – but in those days they were both firmly behind the scen

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Geordie dancing queen dreams of the silver screen - an interview with Jill Halfpenny

Geordie dancing queen dreams of the silver screen - an interview with Jill Halfpenny

Dancing queen dreams of the silver screenGeordie actress Jill Halfpenny, who starred in the BBC detective series Inspector George Gently, set in Northumberland - she is also in Legally Blonde: The Musical at the Savoy Theatre, London from December 5 - talks about her acting ambitions Interview by Michael Hamilton Family picture courtesy Jill Halfpenny and Ray Laidlaw - Jill with husband Craig and son Harvey TV beauty Jill who made her name in Coronation Street and Strictly Come Dancing now has h

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Sir Bobby Robson - a knight to remember

Sir Bobby Robson - a knight to remember

Robson's choice: the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation lives on to raise cash to battle cancerAt home with the first gentleman of football and the North East's favourite knight Sir Bobby Robson. Three words that sum up everything any football fan ever felt was good about the game. Certainly, up to 2004 he gave his all to football. He spent 18 years as a player and 35 as a manager with leading European teams such as Barcelona, Sporting Lisbon and PSV Eindhoven under his wing as well as, latterly, Newcastle United.

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Motormouth Sid Waddell hits the bullseye with a new book

Motormouth Sid Waddell hits the bullseye with a new book

Quote:‘Without a big supportive family of workers and savers I would probably have ended up selling fruit at Ashington market’   Geordie darts legend Sid Waddell is famous for his wild, ranting TV commentaries. He talks about his career and his new book to Michael Hamilton  MH: Tell me how the new book came about. Sid: I started about six years ago working on an A-Z autobiography and it contained stuff about my early life, my three years at Cambridge as a scholar of St. John’s

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Local heroes - Denise Welch talks about her TV fame and charity work

Local heroes - Denise Welch talks about her TV fame and charity work

TV's Mr and Mrs land top charity honour Geordie screen and stage superstars Tim Healy and Denise Welch were honoured in February with a unique charity award by the northern region of the Variety Club. Denise talks telly and charity in an exclusive interview with Michael Hamilton Pictures copyright George Bosnyak There wasn’t a dry eye in the house when Auf Wiedersehen Pet stalwart Tim and Coronation Street‘s Denise picked up a prestigious joint Silver Heart award at a s

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Tyneside actor Tim Healy celebrates 25 years in showbusiness

Tyneside actor Tim Healy celebrates 25 years in showbusiness

Famous Geordie TV couple Tim Healy and Denise Welch were honoured with a top charity award by the northern region of the Variety Club. Tim looks back at his 25-year TV career, talks about the honour, getting his big showbiz break and what he misses most about his beloved North East By Michael Hamilton Auf Wiedersehen Pet actor Tim and Coronation Street actress Denise collected a prestigious joint Silver Heart award at a star-studded celebrity bash at Newcastle’s Civic Centre.

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I’m the real Billy Elliot - Ballet dancer Wayne Sleep talks about growing up in Hartlepool

I’m the real Billy Elliot - Ballet dancer Wayne Sleep talks about growing up in Hartl

  I'm the real Billy Elliot Quote: ‘The Billy Elliot story is an incredible parallel with my life’ Famous ballet dancer Wayne Sleep - who was back in the North East on tour in Cabaret - talks candidly about his childhood memories of growing up in Hartlepool By Michael Hamilton Ballet star Wayne Sleep will always be remembered for a famous five-minute dance routine to Billy Joel’s hit song Uptown Girl with Princess Diana at a Royal Gala performance 25 years ago. It firmly established

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The Unthanks - clog on the Tyne

The Unthanks - clog on the Tyne

Tyneside folk star Rachel Unthank - the new Unthanks album is called Here's the Tender Coming and they play Stockton Arc on November 28 - talks about her music, clog dancing and motherhood By Michael Hamilton Rising North East folk sensation Rachel Unthank is the talk of the Tyne - but her big burning ambition is to be a mum. Rachel’s brother Matthew and partner Jo are proud parents after she gave birth to a little boy Joshua last year. And now Rachel is broody. ‘I

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The Likely Lads - an interview with Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais

The Likely Lads - an interview with Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais

Still likely after all these years Iconic North East TV sitcom the Likely Lads made household names of actors James Bolam, who played jack-the-lad Terry and Rodney Bewes, as aspiring Bob. Here the writers Ian La Frenais, from Whitley Bay, and Dick Clement explain why they agreed to write a stage play for a world exclusive premiere at Durham Gala Theatre. By Michael Hamilton I caught up with Dick Clement and Ian la Frenais in Los Angeles ahead of Durham Gala Theatre’s world exclusive

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Newcastle comic Mickey Hutton - talks about his early days as a musician with Jimmy Nail before he made his name with the Comedy Store

Newcastle comic Mickey Hutton - talks about his early days as a musician with Jimmy N

 Taking the Mickey - Ross Noble is his nephew (true fact!)   By Michael Hamilton Musician Mickey Hutton left Newcastle 25 years ago for the bright lights of London and his dream to hit the big time with his rock band. But he ended up making his name in comedy and as a TV actor. ‘My band was called Strength signed to Arista Records but it flopped harder than a big flat bloke at the baths,’ he laughs. ‘I discovered the Comedy Store and started going along to watch the acts and thought I cou

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AC/DC superstar Brian Johnson is a rock n' roll doctor

AC/DC superstar Brian Johnson is a rock n' roll doctor

Tyneside singing legend Brian Johnson has received an honorary degree in music from Northumbria University. The AC/DC frontman - born and raised in Dunston - said: "Its a wonderful thing to be recognised this way. I'm so proud and honoured." Brian, who lives in Florida these days, is about to take AC/DC back on the road after the band completed their 15th studio album. He added: "I know you are not supposed to shout about this kind of thing but when I get back to America I'm going to

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Focus

Focus

Focus Sage Gateshead 28 October Thijs van Leer always reminds me of Slade’s Noddy Holder. I think it’s the sideburns. If former Slade front-man Holder is something of a national treasure, Focus founder van Leer is the Dutch equivalent. He’s been at the forefront of music in his country for approaching half a century and as founder of ‘Prog-rock’ band Focus he is responsible for some of rock’s finest tunes. Focus have always been strongly influenced by jazz and cl

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On the road with Anastacia

On the road with Anastacia

Singer/songwriter Philippa Hanna is supporting Anastacia on her UK tour and you can catch her at Sage Gateshead on 10 May. The new tour comes hot on the heels of her tour opening for Leona Lewis – and now the Barnsley-born performer has her sights set on breaking the US market as she moves out to Nashville this summer.  Meanwhile Philippa’s fifth studio album 'Speed Of Light' has been released. It blends the pop and electronic of Taylor Swift, swerving away from the previous country-

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Thea Gilmore

Thea Gilmore...

Image by Idil Sukan 30 May Thea Gilmore opened a short tour at Sage Gateshead three days before the launch of her fourteenth studi...

Whats on

She got soul!

She got soul!...

Sweetly soulful singer Lauren Ray is supporting Lucy Spraggan on her UK tour this autumn, with one gig in the North East and two just outsid...