Two new honorary fellows set to be inducted to The Customs House Academy

The honour is bestowed on 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.

Existing Honorary Fellows include: Sarah Millican, Jason Cook, Chris Ramsay, Joe McElderry, Encore, Ann-Marie Owens, John Woodvine, John Hays, Tom Kelly, John Miles, Andy Bogle, Lindsay Kemp, Sheila Graber, Bob Olley, Alex Ferguson and Richard Ord.

Irving and Flannery will be presented with their awards at a special dinner at The Customs House in Mill Dam, South Shields, on Thursday, September 20.

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, best known for Our Friends in the North and George Gently, 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.”

George Irving was born in May 1954 in South Shields and 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).

He said: “I grew up in South Shields, my family are here and my connections to the town have always been very close. My first acting experiences were at the Pier Pavilion in the 1960s.

So it’s a particular pleasure to be honoured in this way by The Customs House which, under Ray’s legendary leadership, has achieved so much in my home town. 

“I’m looking forward to a special evening.”

Peter Flannery was born in Jarrow in October 1951 and educated at the University of Manchester. He was a resident playwright at the Royal Shakespeare Company in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Our Friends in the North was an award-winning nine-part series, screened on BBC2 in 1996, charting the course of the lives of four friends from Newcastle between 1964 and 1995. It starred Christopher Ecclestone, Gina McKee, Daniel Craig and Mark Strong.

In January 2007, Flannery scripted an adaptation of Alan Hunter’s Inspector George Gently novels, entitled George Gently, for BBC One, changing the setting of the stories from Suffolk to the north east in the 1960s and created new characters.

Starring Martin Shaw as the eponymous inspector and Lee Ingleby as his young assistant, Detective Sergeant John Bacchus, it was first shown on April 8, 2007 and the eighth and final series was broadcast last year.

Flannery said he was delighted to accept the Honorary Fellowship.