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Port of Tyne Writer in Residence11 Jan 2010

The Port of Tyne has appointed its own Writer in Residence to tell the story of the Tyne and the people who work, live, thrive and survive on or beside the river.


Newcastle playwright and screenwriter Michael Chaplin was appointed to the post in June and has spent the last few months researching the past, present and future of the Tyne and now wants to hear from communities and individuals who want to add their own stories to the project.

Michael says "We live in a place called Tyneside and the river of the same name runs through it. It has shaped our history and our character. It has a fascinating past and an exciting future, yet despite all of this, Tynesiders tend to take it for granted. We somehow forget that the river is quite literally at the bottom of our collective existence. During my year long residency I hope to capture the essence of the Tyne".

Michael Chaplin was brought up in Newcastle and worked as a journalist and documentary maker before becoming Head of Drama and Arts at Tyne Tees Television and Head of Programmes at BBC Wales. As a full time writer for the last 15 years he has written extensively for BBC Radio and Live Theatre in Newcastle as well as creating such television dramas as Grafters, Monarch of the Glen and Dalziel and Pascoe.

The residency is the first of its kind for the Port of Tyne and is scheduled to last for a year until July 2010. The Tyne is steeped in history and as Andrew Moffat, Chief Executive at the Port of Tyne, says "We believe the people, the communities and the businesses that have played a part in the river's history, need to tell their story. There is no one more capable at recording these stories and anecdotes than Michael Chaplin".

Since taking up his residency Michael has met some of the region's most passionate and interesting people, including seafarers past and present. "I have been humbled, cheered and impressed by the stories I've heard so far. This is all about celebrating our river and the many ways in which it has touched and continues to touch our lives and I am pleased that people are happy to share their experiences and perspectives with me" says Michael.

As a key player and major employer in the Region, the Port of Tyne has a social responsibility to the surrounding community, both developing businesses and the general public. As one of the UK's leading Trust Ports this is a commitment taken seriously by every single employee.

The Port of Tyne is now ready to extend the reach of this project encouraging Tynesiders of all ages to write about their river in whatever form suits them (poetry, short stories and reminiscence), which can subsequently be posted on a public website. If you have a story you would like to share please email Michael Chaplin at Specific efforts will be made to collaborate with schools and colleges, local authorities, arts organisations and writers' groups in the four boroughs.

Michael adds "The intention of this exciting exercise is not simply to get people writing about their river but to get many other people to read, watch and listen to this work. It's about consciousness-raising, an opportunity for the organisations most involved in the river to engage with the public in ways that benefit everyone. It's about celebrating something that's a part of all of us - the River Tyne".

For further information please contact:

Lisa Donohoe, Port of Tyne Assistant Marketing & Communications Manager
Tel: 07912 390 777 Email:

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