Bewitched wins by nose

VOTES have been flooding into The Journal’s offices over the last two weeks since we started our Top 10 feature.

VOTES have been flooding into The Journal’s offices over the last two weeks since we started our Top 10 feature.

So far, we have asked readers to nominate their favourite books, sporting moments, entertainers and Northerners with inspiration provided by children’s author David Almond, Newcastle United legend Peter Beardsley, comedian Brendan Healey and The Journal’s Tony Henderson.

You can still vote in any of those categories, but today we are also asking for your suggestions in the categories of TV programmes and sports stars.

Again, we have lined up some stellar suggestions to get you thinking, but what we really want is the favourite programmes and sportsmen and women of the whole North-East.

You can send us your own favourites by email, post or by voting on our website,

We will compile all the votes in each category in the run-up to Christmas before unveiling the top favourites over the festive period.

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Top 10 television programmes

THE North-East’s favourite TV couple could end up featuring in a number of places in the region’s top telly programmes, being able to count Coronation Street and Auf Wiedersehen Pet on their impressive CVs.

Tim Healy and Denise Welch mentioned both of those shows in their own top 10, though there was no place for other programmes they have appeared in, such as Phoenix Nights, Byker Grove or Soldier, Soldier.

Comedy featured strongly in their list, with sitcoms and shows hosted by comedians making up the bulk of their top 10.

But there was no place for more modern comedy classics such as The Simpsons or The Office while acclaimed dramas such as Inspector Morse, The Sopranos and The West Wing are also missing.

After much deliberation, their combined list came out as follows:


Denise: “I remember it from my childhood. It’s something I really enjoyed when I was young and it’s a strong childhood memory.

“There is something about fantasy and magic that appeals to kids and I remember thinking it was fantastic when I sat and watched it.”

Auf Wiedersehen, Pet

Denise: “Obviously there are personal connections with this one and that’s why it’s up there. There are plenty of links to the family. I actually had a small part in one episode.”

Dad’s Army

Denise: “It was such a great sitcom and it did everything you want from a programme.

“It was a combination of brilliant acting and brilliant writing.”

Coronation Street

Denise: “It really has a place in history.

“When we used to watch it, I never dreamed that one day I would be landlady of the Rovers.

“Being in Coronation Street was like acting out a childhood dream and so it has to be in our Top 10.”

Fawlty Towers

Denise: “The thing about Fawlty Towers is that it has lasted so long and never stopped being funny. We still laugh at all the jokes – it is just so good. John Cleese is brilliant and you just never get sick of it.”

Hancock’s Half Hour

Tim: “He was a superstar. I grew up with it and it really brings back memories of family. It was also a Christmas thing.”

The Tommy Cooper Show

Tim: “He is one of my main comedy heroes and I find him unbelievably funny. One of my best memories I have is of meeting Tommy Cooper. He was a comedy genius and could take all sorts of risks.”

The Morecambe and Wise Show

Tim: “They’re the best comedy duo I can remember. I look back with so much affection on those shows. I remember watching the Christmas show. That was always a highlight.”

Boys from the Black Stuff

Tim: “This was an absolutely brilliant statement about Thatcher’s Britain. I have strong feelings about this time and this programme was a great take on everything that was going on.”

The Ken Dodd Show

Tim: “I realised a dream when I met Ken Dodd.

“He is so quick witted and everything he says seems off-the-cuff. He just has a joke for just about every possible situation.”

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Top 10 sporting stars

BOXER Glenn McCrory was well equipped to pick a top 10 of sporting stars, having made it to the pinnacle of his own sport.

A former IBF cruiserweight world champion, he is now retired from the sport and using his experiences to help produce the next generation of fighters ahead of the London Olympics in 2012.

As you might expect, his own top 10 includes a number of boxers, but there are also representatives of other sports who have influenced Glenn in other ways.

He said: “The people I have chosen, for me, have for some reason struck a chord in my life in sport.

“There are 50 to 100 boxers which spring to mind straight away and I could have easily filled the list with but these are the people that have in some way influenced me or continue to influence me in my life.”

Muhammed Ali

“There can only be one greatest sporting star of all time and he speaks for himself, he’s The Greatest. He changed my life and is the reason I started to box.

“I’m not saying he’s the greatest fighter of all time, but he was the greatest sportsman of all time. He was one of the biggest figures and for that to be a black kid from Louisville that shows just how big he is.

“I have met him twice and once he told me I was going to be a world champion. He actually asked to meet me in my dressing room and as a 19-year-old from Newcastle – it was just unbelievable.”

Jesse Owens

“For what he did for America and what he did for black athletes at the time, and sprinting at the time when the whole world was looking at him. Yet he still had the guts to get out there and become the fastest man on Earth.

“Imagine if you have the head of Nazi Germany watching over you and to still go out there and win well – talk about having some bottle.”


“He was for the football world what Ali was for boxing. He is a great, great talent and was something different because he was from South America.

“He had so much pace and watching him as a kid was just great. What he has done for football just shows that he is a great sports star.”

Sugar Ray Robinson

“Named as a legend by Muhammed Ali and is the greatest fighter that ever lived. He was a contender until he was 46 years old and it took people like Jake LaMotta to beat him.

“When you start off in boxing, it’s a great thing to aim for to try and be as good as him but no-one ever was.”

George Best

“As a kid growing up, he was just brilliant, he took your breath away and was my first idol. Even before I knew who Muhammed Ali was, I was George Best fan.

“He was a character and was so much bigger than sport, he was a man that was an entertainer and was big outside of football as he was in. He seemed to have flair and style, girls loved him as well and for me I wanted to be George Best when I was a kid playing football.”

Phil Bennett

“He could just swivel his hips like no-one else on Earth. He had the flair and used it in the game.

“Watching him as a kid, he was this fly-half who could get past everyone and leave them standing in their wait.”

Tiger Woods

“To be that good and continue to be that good is just beyond belief. He has so much professionalism and people know his name like no-other.

“He just wins and wins and gets better, he is just so good. It’s a massive thing when he doesn’t win, and someone like that is just a pro.

“So many people play golf and for him to stand head and shoulders above the rest is pretty amazing.”

Ayrton Senna da Silva

“Sadly his life was cut short but he did so much already and will go down as one of the sporting greats.

“ I’m not really a motor racing guy but there was something about him, when you hear people talk about him you know he was so loved and so good, it’s such a massive shame that he lost his life to something that he loved and there could have been so much more from him.

“People talk marvels about him, I just wish I had known more about him.”

Alan Shearer

“Not for what he has just done for Newcastle United but for what he has done for North-East sport.

“Alan is my sort of era growing up and I know him.

“He has put us on the map when it comes to football and I still have a great deal of admiration for him and Jack Hixon, a good friend of mine, who discovered him. When you talk about football in Newcastle, it’s the first name many people will say.”

Michael Jordan

“He is just the greatest thing in basketball and his name speaks for itself. I spent quite a lot of time in America, it’s just so big over there and he is just huge.

“When you speak to people in America, they just don’t come any bigger than him. Even as a name over here, it is instantly recognizable and he will go down as one of the great American athletes.”

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Vote for your own top 10

You can vote for your faviourite books or sporting moments in a number of ways:

ONLINE:   Click here to leave your favourites.

POST: Send your choice to The Journal Newsdesk, Groat Market, Newcastle, NE1 1ED.

EMAIL: Send your choice to


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer