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Review: Tyne Idols Viz Tour of Newcastle

TyneIdols Viz Tour of Newcastle
With Simon Donald and Seymour Mace
Thursday 20th July 2017

Departing at 7pm from Newcastle's Bewick Street the Tyne Idols bus transported the passengers in a historical journey. This was no ordinary bus tour though, as hosting it was Simon Donald: one of the creators of the (in-) famous Viz Comic. Along with Seymour Mace, who provided further comical input, and some interjections from fellow Viz creator, Chris Donald.

Tyne Idols Tour Bus
Simon managed to keep us in stitches for most of the journey. Stories of the origins of Viz and its characters was revealed. We saw the various offices it used, the places the comics writers used to hang out and their original family home. If you’ve wondered how someone comes up with a character like Sid The Sexist then you might be in for a surprise as you hear the story whilst parked in the Bigg Market.

We got to hear the series of events about how Viz succeeded where other “adult comics” failed. It was based on reality, the people we meet in real life who say the unthinkable, act in ways we may feel are immoral or simply ridiculous. There was also a number of stories about growing up in Newcastle.

Chris & Simon Donald and Seymour Mace
Perhaps the old attitudes appear shocking now but many of us onboard remembered our parents at the time and Simon had us laughing at times until our tummy muscles hurt. The bus meandered through the streets of the city, passing the houses where Simon and his brothers lived, and Viz was based so stories could be told as we passed. The bemused looks of the people in the houses and outside the pubs only added to the hilarity and gave Simon and Seymour more material to play with.

A couple of stops in pubs made the 3 ½ hour trip more comfortable and sensibly lubricated.  This included a Question and Answer session in the bar in which the first copies of Viz were sold. The audience had a chance to ask about their favourite characters and the inspirations behind them.

One highlight was hearing about the previously unheard of tales of the involvement of the advertisers, publishers and lawyers. If you remember the Newcastle’s alternative fashion shops, Ready-Brek adverts and cinema curry-house adverts then you’ll be in for a treat.  

Tyne Idols Tour Bus
The old Leyland bus is painted in the yellow Newcastle livery which many of us remember from the era before Stagecoach came to town. Everyone was allocated seats on the bus which stopped a scramble at each stop. We were at the back of the top deck but we could still see and hear Simon as he perched himself on the drivers mirror. The bus had a good sound system and subtle disco lights along with posters of Tyneside musical and cinematic heroes of the past.

We had a great time on this trip and would certainly do this again.

Review by Joanne & Stephen Oliver

Future trips:

The next trip features a music & film heritage tour departing Bewick Street, Newcastle (opposite Central Station) at 7.00pm on Thursday 17th August and returning roughly three hours later. The tour with on-board chat and music, hosted by the legendary Mr Ray Laidlaw, includes a backstage tour of an iconic music venue and two stop-offs at very popular watering holes, promising as always to be a fun-packed evening out.

There will be a new-for-the-Summer Coastal Heroes Tours celebrate local legends of TV, film and music which starts in Tynemouth. Hosted by the irresistible Mr Ray Laidlaw on Sunday 20th August the 3-hour tour will also include some very special guests, and there will be 2 refreshment breaks throughout to whet your whistle in some carefully selected and interesting establishments.

On Thursday 24th August magician Chris Cross, with his Magical Bus Tour, celebrating his Geordie Book of Magic. There’ll be tales of northern witchcraft, a visit to a condemned cell, a tale of Houdini’s visit to Newcastle and plenty of unexpected magical tomfoolery.  Further details of this and other tours see their website

For tickets (£10) call Julie on 0191 253 1618

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