Sunderland bobby’s tales on the big screen

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CRIME tales from the streets of Wearside are to be brought to the silver screen thanks to a former Sunderland bobby.

During his 30-year police career, Arthur McKenzie spent three years at Washington Police Station during the 70s, a time which inspired him to write a screenplay which has now been made into the film Harrigan.

Starring Stephen Tompkinson, the film will be premiered at Gala Theatre Durham at 7.30pm today.

Filmed at locations around the North East, the movie is set in the winter of 1974 when power cuts and coal strikes were crippling the country as soon-to-be retired Detective Sergeant Barry Harrigan rejoins his old police force.

Arthur, who has written for many TV shows including The Bill, Wycliffe and Spender, said: “It’s very much a cowboy film set in 1974. It’s about a man who comes back from working abroad to do the last six months of his job.

“But he realises his community is going to the dogs, and he isn’t prepared to stand back and let it. He’s very much a Clint Eastwood kind of character.”

The film was shot last year in County Durham, Newcastle and Hartlepool and features many scenes that were inspired by Arthur’s time in the police.

He rose through the ranks through beat, vice, CID, Serious Crime Squad and investigating corruption in Hong Kong.

Arthur, who was commended 27 times for exemplary police work, said: “I remember my time at Washington Police Station well. I was there as an inspector for three years covering from Washington through Houghton to Shiney Row.

“I met a lot of characters, and I’ve drawn upon many of those people for the characters in the film.”

Though Arthur penned the story many years ago, it was only picked up as a film three years ago.

He sent the script to Stephen Tompkinson while he was appearing on stage at Newcastle’s Live Theatre, and he immediately fell in love with the role. After the film’s Durham premiere, there will be a free Q&A session with Stephen Tompkinson, Arthur McKenzie, director Vince Woods and producer Kirsty Bell.