Swan song for film shoot at shipyard

Filming of 'Harrigan' with writer Arthur McKenzie and his daughter Kirsty Bell at Swan Hunter Shipyard, Wallsend, seen beside some of the hundreds of 1970's props used during filming.

Filming of 'Harrigan' with writer Arthur McKenzie and his daughter Kirsty Bell at Swan Hunter Shipyard, Wallsend, seen beside some of the hundreds of 1970's props used during filming.

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A FILM shot at Wallsend’s old Swan Hunter shipyard is due to hit the silver screen in the autumn.

Filming for the 1970s-set crime thriller Harrigan finished at the yard last week after getting under way in December.

Former Swan Hunter offices have been doubling up as a police station for the £1.6m-budget movie, just as they did for the ITV1 series Vera, based on books by Whitley Bay author Ann Cleeves.

As reported in the News Guardian, offices at the docks were transformed into a 1970s CID unit, and the old yards, now devoid of their landmark cranes, were used as a location for other scenes.

The film, being made by TallTree Pictures, is set in January 1974 and stars Stephen Tompkinson – best known for the TV series Wild at Heart, Ballykissangel and Drop the Dead Donkey – in the title role of Barry Harrigan.

It tells the tale of a detective sergeant’s efforts to tackle a crime-wave in Newcastle after returning to the city from an 18-month secondment in Hong Kong.

The film is being produced by Kirsty Bell, of Killingworth, using a script written by her father, Arthur McKenzie, of Gosforth.

Arthur, 72, is a former police officer with over 30 years’ experience, and the film is based on his time in the force.

Kirsty said: “It is like a 1970s western set in the West End of Newcastle and is about Harrigan coming back and seeing the chaos on the streets where he used to work and bringing back some sort of order.”

The Swan Hunter yard has not only been used as a location for filming but has also acted as a hub for the production of the film.

Kirsty said: “The site here is a fantastic place to shoot a film.

“Things like travelling into work have been so easy as you avoid the major roads, and there is ample car parking.

“We also don’t need to be too concerned about disturbing our neighbours, which can be an issue on some locations.

“We have had the make-up artists here, production staff and the caterers here.

“It’s been an absolutely fantastic place to work, and everyone is quite sad it’s over now.

“Everyone I have spoken to has enjoyed it here.”

Post-production is now under way, a process expected to take up to 20 weeks, and the film is scheduled to be released in the autumn.

Besides Stockton-born Tompkinson, 46, the film, directed by Vince Woods, stars South Shields-born Craig Conway, also seen in Vera and Eternal Law, and Being Human’s Amy Manson, as well as Bill Fellows, Darren Morfitt and Ian Whyte.