NEWCASTLE is once again to be the setting for a gritty crime film, this time starring Stephen Tompkinson as a copper with old fashioned values.
The actor, who appeared in the film Brassed Off but is now best known as vet Danny Trevanion in ITV drama series Wild at Heart, is to play Detective Sergeant Barry Harrigan in the film Harrigan’s Nick.
The screenplay was written by Newcastle writer Arthur McKenzie and inspired by his experiences as a police officer in the city in the 1970s.
Last night Stephen Tompkinson said he had been handed the script last year when he was in the play Faith & Cold Reading at Newcastle’s Live Theatre.
“I thought it was fantastic. I got to meet Arthur, who’s a wonderful, larger-than-life character, and heard that it was based on his memories, and it really grabbed me.
“There was a great part in it that I thought Dawn (Steele, his co-star in Wild at Heart) would be right for and she said she could just about bear to work with me again.”
Dawn Steele is to play fellow officer WPC Bridie Phelan.
Both actors were in Newcastle last night for a meeting about the film before flying off to South Africa to make the seventh series of Wild at Heart.
Stephen said his character in Harrigan’s Nick was “a person who believes in the physical presence of a policeman in his community. He’s been away in the Far East and he comes back to find a lot more red tape and policemen disappearing off the streets.
“He finds himself in a station on a pretty rough estate and sets out to protect the people who still need protecting. He finds himself up against a lot of guys who have come in to take over the estate.”
Arthur McKenzie joined the police as a cadet in 1955 and retired as a detective inspector in 1988, having been commended for his actions many times.
He was also an athlete, competing for his country in discus and shot put events.
He started writing at the age of 40 and, having contributed episodes of The Bill, Wycliffe and Spender, it looks as if he could finally see his name up on the big screen at the age of 72.
“I’m genuinely excited about this and I don’t get excited about much these days,” he said. “My mentors were Tom Hadaway (the North East playwright) and Ken Hill (theatre director) and Ken always said to me, ‘Don’t hurry. Your talent will take a lot of years to come through’. I think I’ve always played the long game.
“I’m delighted because I did want to leave a little something behind. And I’ve admired Stephen since I saw him in Brassed Off.”
North East-based director Vince Woods, of TallTree Pictures, said the film would have a £1.1m budget and shooting would start in the winter.
“We are talking to councils about locations but will probably film at various places around the North East,” he said.
He suggested that Harrigan’s Nick would be a bit like Get Carter but with a good guy as the main character.
Arthur McKenzie said: “It’s a Western really. We’re both fans of Clint Eastwood.”