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The first stage adaptation of TV drama When the Boat Comes In is set to dock once more at The Customs House – followed by a sequel.

When the Boat Comes In was performed in front of sell-out audiences during its world premiere 10-day run at the Mill Dam theatre in South Shields last month. It will return to the stage in March 2019, followed in September 2019 by When the Boat Comes In: The Hungry Years.

The second instalment will once again be written by Peter Mitchell, the son of James Mitchell, who wrote the much-loved TV series for the BBC. Peter, who followed his father into a career in writing 40 years ago, said: “When The Boat Comes In was incredibly well-received by The Customs House audience. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive and there was a real energy in the auditorium. I’m delighted that anyone who missed out first time around is going to get another chance to see it. Many of the themes emerging from the drama resonate as clearly now as they ever did and everyone involved in the production was thrilled at the reaction.”

When the Boat Comes In follows the fortunes of Sergeant Jack Ford during the inter-war years on Tyneside. Having endured the horrors of war, he yearns for something more and is determined to get what he wants, whatever the cost.

The original TV show ran for four series between 1976 and 1981 and was ground-breaking for its time, as it was shot on location in the north east and featured local actors, including Sunderland-born James Bolam as Jack Ford.At its peak, it attracted 15 million viewers and national acclaim, receiving several BAFTA nominations, including two for best drama series.

The stage version of When the Boat Comes In was commissioned by The Customs House to commemorate the centenary of the end of the First World War. It starred Jamie Brown as Jack Ford, Alice Stokoe as Jessie Seaton, Steve Byron as Bill Seaton, Janine Birkett as Bella Seaton, Matthew Howdon as Tom Seaton, Charlie Richmond as Matt Headley, Anna Bolton as Dolly Mather and Sarah Balfour as Mary Routledge/Mrs Scrimgour.

The second part will continue where the first left off, but will stand as a story in its own right.  Peter said: “So many people told us after the first performance that they wanted more and it will be an absolute pleasure to bring the next chapter of the story to The Customs House. There’s much more to come from Jack Ford and the gang but you can guarantee one thing - it won’t all be plain sailing. The backdrop to the next drama involves poverty, greed, jealousy and ambition - Jack will have his work cut out.”

Ray Spencer, Executive Director of The Customs House, said: “We were thrilled at the response to When the Boat Comes In and we were aware that a number of people were disappointed they didn’t get the opportunity to see part one.  So, we are bringing it back in March and adding extra shows in September so more people will be able to see part two, which we are very excited to see on stage.”

When The Boat Comes In will return between Wednesday, March 13, and Sunday, March 17, 2019, with evening performances at 7.30pm and two 2.30pm performances on Saturday, March 16, and Sunday, March 17.

When the Boat Comes In: The Hungry Years will run from Thursday, September 12, to Saturday, September 28, 2019, with evening performances at 7.30pm and 2.30pm performances on Saturday, September 14, Thursday, September 19, Saturday, September 21, Thursday, September 26 and Saturday, September 28.

For more information, contact the box office on (0191) 454 1234 or visit

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