Longer BBC documentary on Sunderland to air

Sister Mary Scolastica, of the Apostleship of the Sea at Stella Maris Centre, Port of Sunderland, appears in the programme.
Sister Mary Scolastica, of the Apostleship of the Sea at Stella Maris Centre, Port of Sunderland, appears in the programme.

Sunderland will be in the national spotlight once again when a longer version of a TV documentary shown earlier this month airs.

Sea Cities is to be broadcast on BBC2 next week, with the series’ first episode focusing on Wearside.

The programme, an half-hour version of which aired on BBC1, looks at ways in which the city is looking to a new future.

Viewers get to meet some of the people helping to bring about change and others working to keep traditions alive.

One of the city’s biggest challenges is assembling the first new bridge over the River Wear for 40 years, the Northern Spire.

River pilot Baber Abidi has to guide a barge carrying the bridge’s massive central pylon up the river, clearing the city’s existing historic bridges on the way.

Sister Mary Scholastica from the Stella Maris Mission is also featured and shown as a real hero of the port.

The caring nun greets merchant seamen from around the world with gifts like sim cards to keep in touch with their families.

Over at Sunderland’s Lighthouse, the 114 year-old building has undergone a multi-million pound makeover before it opens to the public.

Phil Tweddell, the grandson of a former lighthouse keeper (William Emmerson) reveals one of the light houses secrets - an underground tunnel to help keepers reach the tower whatever the weather.

In a poignant moment the lighthouse guides aircraft carrier HMS Ocean into her adopted city for the last time, as the ship will soon be decommissioned.

The programme also goes behind the scenes at the Sunderland Air Show.

Half a million people are expected to enjoy the Red Arrows display team, but in true British seaside tradition the weather attempts to have the last say.

The first episode of Sea Cities, focusing on Sunderland, airs on BBC2 on Thursday, February 15, at 8pm, with an episode on Bristol due to be broadcast on Thursday, February 22, also at 8pm.

The final episode, looking at Brighton, will be on BBC2 on Tuesday, February 27, at 7pm.

BBC Executive producer Diana Hare said: “Our country is vibrant and diverse and Sea Cities allows each community to tell its own story.

“Prepare to meet the incredible people who work hard to bring about change, keep traditions alive, entertain and take care of one another in Sunderland, Bristol and Brighton - three special places where the sea shapes lives in very different ways.”