Two more Customs House Fellows

Published: 10 September 2018

Holby City actor George Irving and Our Friends in the North playwright Peter Flannery are the latest Honorary Fellows are to be inducted into the Customs House Academy, the theatre’s “Roll of Honour,” people who are from or have been associated with South Tyneside, who have gone on to make a significant contribution to the development of arts and entertainment locally, nationally and internationally.

George Irving, who was born in South Shields, is best known for playing Anton Meyer in Holby City from 1999 to 2002, although he has made regular appearances on TV since the 1970s, landing his first TV role in When the Boat Comes In (1976). Among his earliest stage appearances were performances for the NE branch of the National Youth Theatre of Great Britain at Sunderland Empire in the late '60s / early '70s, directed by the NTY’s founder Michael Croft. Most recently he appeared in Michael Chaplin’s play Tyne (2013) at Live Theatre and the Customs House.

Peter Flannery, from Jarrow, was a resident playwright at the Royal Shakespeare Company in the late 1970s and early 1980s. He is best known for the 1996 BBC TV series Our Friends in the North, which actually began life in 1982 as a stage play at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. The stage version was revived in 2007 at Northern Stage and went on a six-venue national tour.

In January of the same year, Flannery began a series of TV adaptations of the George Gently novels of Alan Hunter for the BBC, moving the setting from East Anglia to Northumberland and Durham, and has since written a further six series.

They join Sarah Millican, Jason Cook, Chris Ramsay, Joe McElderry, Encore, Ann-Marie Owens, John Woodvine, John Hays, Tom Kelly, John Miles, Andy Bogle, Sheila Graber, Bob Olley, Alex Ferguson, Richard Ord and the late Lindsay Kemp as Fellows of the Academy.

The induction will take place at a special dinner in the Dalton Suite at the Customs House. Tickets are priced at £50 each, which includes drinks on arrival followed by a 3-course meal with wine on the table. Following this, the newly inducted Fellows will be interviewed and talk about their lives and experiences.

Ray Spencer MBE, Executive Director of The Customs House, said, “I am very pleased that we are able to recognise the talents of two more people who were born in South Tyneside, both of whom I have admired for such a long time.

“Peter Flannery helped me get my drama degree when I performed his The Boy’s Own Story as my final piece and I saw George Irving most recently in Michael Chaplin’s Tyne, which was such a compelling story of our great river and the people associated with it.

“So it will be great to have both of them here, joined by some of our illustrious Honorary Fellows, celebrating this special night. We hope that as many people as possible will buy tickets to support the event.”

Anyone interested in purchasing tickets for the event, which kicks off at 7PM, should contact Catherine Hymers, Customs House Operations Director, by e-mailing her.


Since publishing the above article, we have learned that, because of illness, Peter Flannery will not be able to attend on the evening.

Peter Lathan