Filming locations for The Fast Show across the North-East

THE Fast Show was a little bit wooh and a little bit whey in the 1990s – a fast-paced BBC comedy sketch show, starring Paul Whitehouse and Charlie Higson, that was packed full of catchphrases and featured many scenes filmed in the North-East. It ran from 1994 to 1997, and then had one-off specials in 2000 and 2017, and created many memorable characters, like the permatanned car salesman Swiss Toni. Last week, we were delighted to discover that his first forecourt appearances were filmed at the caravan park at Scotch Corner where the office had indeed once been a petrol filling station kiosk beside the A1.

Several other characters, like the Running Family (a family that are always pictured running) and the Brilliant Kid (a child who wanders around saying everything is brilliant) were filmed against numerous backdrops from Redcar on the coast through to Darlington – the Cornmill Centre was a regular haunt – and up to Durham Market Place. Ted and Ralph, the old Irish gamekeeper and his young aristocratic master, was first filmed at Ormesby Hall in Middlesbrough, with some scenes being filmed in the country setting of Richmond Market Place. Unlucky Alf, a pensioner for whom things always went wrong and the sketch always ended with his catchphrase “oh!

Bugger”, was filmed at Railway Street in Langley Park, near Durham. In 1997, scenes for the show were filmed at Darlington’s railway museum, and in 2000, Binns on High Row was the venue for Arabella Weir’s manic beauty counter assistant, and for a sketch involved Whitehouse as a randy aristocrat. “Me, the 13th Duke of Wybourne, in the fitting rooms of the lingerie department, with my reputation,” he says, fiddling with the curtain, with a bottle of champagne in his hand. During those filming days, the crew also visited Aske Hall near Richmond, and Cotherstone and Barnard Castle.

John Roberts, from Skinningrove, remembers that Middlesbrough’s new and empty Riverside Stadium was used for the “someone’s sitting there” sketches, where a new arrival always finds a seat is taken although there are clearly 27,500 empty seats all around. John also reports that Staithes was used as a backdrop for an enthusiastic American reporter to beam into the camera and say “Hi! I’m Ed Winchester!” before being immediately cut-off.

And Staithes was also the setting for Johnny Nice Painter – an artist who, never mind how beautiful the scene in front of him – always ends by manically covering his canvas in black. Best of all, though, is the snippet from Paul Dobson, of Bishop Auckland, about Jesse, the country bumpkin. In the first series, Jesse had a weekly feature called Jesse’s Diets in which he would emerge from a shed, tie up the door with a piece of rope and then shout: “This week, I are’ve been mostly eating…”

For the second series, it evolved into Jesse’s Fashion Tips. “I’m not sure if it still exists as I’ve not visited in years, but the old railway truck (in Shildon maroon, of course) outside which Jesse shouted “this season, I are’ll be mostly wearing…” was on a moorland track in Walden, up the dale from West Burton,” says Paul. West Burton is in Wensleydale, at the head of a side dale called Bishopdale, and Walden is a couple of miles away in Waldendale – a side dale of a side dale, which is often referred to as Yorkshire’s least visited dale because no one has ever heard of it.

Perhaps they should market it as the fashion capital of the world. Then people would come flocking, and hopefully, they’d remember the fashion tip that Jesse barked from the door of the Shildon wagon: “This season, I are’ll be mostly wearing navy blue courtshoes.” Are there any other Fast Show locations you can tell us about?

Please email chris.lloyd@nne.co.uk

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