When the Boat Comes In features a plethora of strong, female characters.

Now it has its first female director, as Katy Weir takes the helm of the stage adaptation of the iconic BBC TV series, which ran from 1976 to 1981.

Writer Peter Mitchell, the son of the original writer, James Mitchell, is excited by the prospect of his script being brought to life by a woman.

With rehearsals now underway, he said: “When the Boat Comes In has strong female characters, but it has never had a female director, so this is a first.

This is why I was so thrilled to work with Katy. I wanted to explore what a woman would bring into this male-dominated world with such strong female characters. They are picking up the pieces that the men leave behind in the aftermath of war.”

When the Boat Comes In follows the fortunes of Sergeant Jack Ford in the inter-war years on Tyneside. The stage play is based on the first of the four series, which sees Jack return home from the frontline to find little has changed.

The place he left behind is still battling against poverty, ill health, unemployment and discrimination – and he yearns for more. He has his sights set on the high life and is determined to get what he wants, whatever the cost.

Peter said: “People expected him to be a big social hero and he wasn’t. What he wanted to be was a rich man. He doesn’t exactly turn his back on his roots, but everything he does is for his own benefit.

It’s a survival instinct he learned from the war. The influence of war on men is the underlying theme of the piece, because it lives with them for the rest of their lives.”

Jamie Brown is taking on the role of Jack, while Alice Stokoe plays Jessie Seaton, Steve Byron plays Bill Seaton and Janine Birkett plays Bella Seaton.

Tom Seaton will be played by Matthew Howdon, Billie Seaton by Luke Maddison, Matt Headley by Charlie Richmond, Dolly Mather by Anna Bolton and Mary Routledge/Mrs Scrimgour by Sarah Balfour.

Katy said: “I’m excited to have such a talented cast and creative team on board and can’t wait to put our ideas on the stage. It is such an iconic piece of work and we are working extremely hard to do it justice.”

When the Boat Comes In runs from Thursday, August 16, to Saturday, August 25, with performances at 7.30pm and a 2.30pm matinee on Saturday, August 18, Thursday, August 23 and Saturday, August 25. Tickets, priced from £15, are available from the box office on 0191 454 1234 or online at


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