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BBC First World War drama moves to Tynemouth

The action in Home Front, BBC Radio 4's epic First World War drama, transfers to the North East with a largely local cast

The BBC's Home Front is transferring to Tynemouth
The BBC's Home Front is transferring to Tynemouth

The BBC’s groundbreaking First World War radio series, Home Front, moves from the south coast to the North East next month.

Tynemouth and North Shields are to be the new setting for the Radio 4 drama which is designed to span the duration of the war exactly one century on.

Six hundred episodes of Home Front have been planned with the fictional storylines set against corresponding real-life wartime events.

In the third series – 40 episodes over eight weeks – new characters will come to the fore, many of them played by North East actors.

According to the BBC, the third series will follow the fortunes of a munitions factory, Marshall’s, which is owned by a relatively well-heeled family of that name.

Geoffrey Marshall, the head of the family, is played by Dominic Maffham and Johnnie Marshall, who sympathises with the working class, by Paul Ready.

The working class Chadwicks are all employed at the factory, initially with drunken father Daniel, played by Northumberland-born Mark Cameron.

Richard Kenworthy Actor Shaun Prendergast who plays a publican in Home Front
Actor Shaun Prendergast who plays a publican in Home Front

Mark Stobbart, from Stockton, plays Duncan, who speaks out against the demon booze, Edmund Wiseman plays Fraser, the shop steward, and North East actress Kathryn Beaumont is cast as Edie Chadwick, one of the pioneering female factory workers of 1914-18.

Deka Walmsley, a North East actor whose many stage credits include The Pitmen Painters and Billy Elliot: The Musical, plays Robert Lyle, a builder with a complicated home life.

The new series will also feature The Ballarat, a pub once owned and run by the grandfather of North Shields-born Shaun Prendergast who plays its landlord.

Figures from real life will also be woven into the North East storyline with Carolyn Pickles playing Councillor Maud Burnett, who campaigned for more women to be involved in the local worksforce, and Simon Scardifield cast as Yevgeny Zamyatin, the Russian engineer who spent time in Newcastle during the war and went on to write the novel We, an inspiration for George Orwell’s Nineteen Eight-Four.

Tynemouth residents will no doubt listen closely to the new series because, thanks to the Tynemouth World War One Commemoration Project, they know more than most about the impact the war had on the local community.

The volunteer-run project has spent more than four years finding out about all the 1,700 local residents known to have perished as a result of the conflict.

Jessica Dromgoole, editor of Home Front, said: “The response to the first two series has been extraordinary and we’re looking forward immensely to expanding into the North East, with Tynemouth and the surrounding areas providing an ideal backdrop to bring listeners closer to the challenges faced by society and industry 100 years ago.”

Series three of Home Front begins on BBC Radio 4 on February 2 and runs until March 27. Episodes will be broadcast daily at 12 noon with an omnibus edition on Fridays at 9pm.


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