Alun Armstrong to be the voice of the Sunderland Echo

Alun Armstrong
Alun Armstrong
Have your say

Shakespearean actor Alun Armstrong will be the voice of the Sunderland Echo in a film to mark the WW1 centenary.

The County Durham-born actor, who’s famed for roles in New Tricks, Get Carter, Our Friends in the North as well as in the RSC, will narrate excerpts from the paper in Asunder at the Sunderland Empire.

Kate Adie with Esther Johnson and musician and writer Bob Stanley

Kate Adie with Esther Johnson and musician and writer Bob Stanley

He’ll be joined by former Sunderland High pupil and BBC war correspondent Kate Adie who will narrate the overall film, which tells the story of life in Sunderland and beyond in 1916 through live music and film.

Award-winning film-maker Esther Johnson will use local archive footage and newly-shot film to convey the story of the city’s involvement in World War One, from the men who fought to those who stayed behind in the region’s shipyards, mines and munitions factories.

The soundtrack for the film is being provided live by Sunderland band and Mercury Music Prize nominees Field Music, Newcastle electronic music duo Warm Digits, and the world-renowned Royal Northern Sinfonia.

Produced by musician, film producer and writer Bob Stanley, there will be two performances of Asunder on July 10, at 2.30pm and 7.30pm.

Asunder programme manager Leila D’aronville said: “We wanted a recognisable voice for the Echo narration and obviously someone with connections to the region. “Alun was our first choice.

“We also wanted a woman’s voice and again wanted someone closely connected to the city of Sunderland. Again, Kate Adie, who has a huge amount of knowledge about World War One through projects for the BBC and was brought up in Sunderland, was the natural choice.

“We approached both of them, and they were both incredibly happy to be involved. We’ve got the perfect people for the job, they’ve both been very professional a pleasure to work with and the results won’t disappoint our audience.

“As the countdown to July 10 begins, we’re getting increasingly excited about the event.”

As well as the film screenings, there will be a programme of free activity on the former Crowtree Leisure Centre site and Sunderland Minster.

Leila said: “This will be activity for all of the family to enjoy, and it promises to be a day to remember for Sunderland.”

Asunder was co-commissioned by Sunderland Cultural Partnership (SCP) and 14-18 Now, supported by the National Lottery through Arts Council England and the Heritage Lottery Fund. Other supporters include the James Knott Trust, Culture Bridge North East and Sunderland Business Improvement District.

•Tickets, priced from £12 plus a booking fee, are available from the Empire Box Office on 0844 871 3022 or online at