Visitors to a pop up cinema at Seaburn were given exclusive previews of BBC shows, weeks before transmission.
Call the Midwife and The Worst Witch were among the screenings as the broadcaster brought its 100-seater mobile cinema bus to the Ocean Park Funfair site.
The red carpet was rolled out for the event which attracted capacity crowds to most of the screenings which took place throughout the day.
Starting in Carlisle and welcoming the New Year in Hull as the East Yorkshire city begins its year as UK City of Culture 2017, the touring cinema is visiting nine northern towns and cities to show some of the BBC’s most eagerly-awaited festive TV.
Adam Heyhurst, head of events at the BBC, said: “Some of the shows are so new, they are being delivered fresh from the editing suite. One of the most popular shows which people are getting to see first is the first episode in series six of Call the Midwife, which won’t be transmitted until January.”
The bus had to be moved from its planned location at Cliffe Park to the former funfair site due to the weather, but it didn’t deter TV viewers who could apply for free tickets in advance or turn up on the day.
“We’ve had more people apply for tickets in Sunderland than anywhere else,” said Adam. “This is the first time the BBC has done this. We tend to hold premieres in places where series are shot, so we held the premiere for Peaky Blinders in Birmingham and Happy Valley in Halifax. The idea was to bring the red carpet to places where we don’t shoot productions, and it’s had a great response.”
As well as a premiere of Call the Midwife, which sees the nuns help a hospital in South Africa, there was also a premiere of Our Dancing Town, which tells the story of four Yorkshire towns through dance.
Earlier in the day, younger viewers enjoyed a preview of CBBC’s much-anticipated new series of children’s classic The Worst Witch as well as a special CBeebies screening of all-new Teacup Travels, which will not be shown on TV until January, and an exclusive premiere episode of Postman Pat: Space, which won’t be broadcast until March 2017.