Lesley Saint-John and Tony Hodge famed for their roles as the Dobson Family in the hugely popular 90’s BBC programme Byker Grove (which launched the careers of TV stars including Ant & Dec, Hollywood film star Charlie Hunnam, Jill Halfpenny, Dionna Air and many more regional actors), will be once again starring side-by-side after a monumental 30 years.
The pair have remained friends since working on Byker Grove all those years ago and now it can be revealed they will both be reunited but under very different on-screen circumstances in the new regional TV Crime Drama “Moreland’s Firm”. North East Films who are producing the new crime series have inadvertently reunited the pair following auditions last month in Newcastle where Lesley and Tony attended separately and were unaware each other had shown interest in the Casting Call.
Lesley and Tony were completely surprised and stunned when amazingly by remote chance they were both individually cast for Moreland’s Firm and both were successful landing parts that will see them act in shared scenes, with a loose love interest, after more than three decades apart.
It’s so strange… it will be the 30th Anniversary of Byker Grove next year and what a brilliant coincidence it has turned out to be working alongside Tony again in Newcastle on a regional production that’s set and filmed right on my doorstep.
The new Crime Series will feature many famous faces and many new Actors from the North East as well as some leading UK talent including ITV’s DCI Banks Stephen Tompkinson and regional favourite Craig Conway will play Michael Moreland leading the family firm.
Other stars include Gary Webster of Minder fame, Kim Tiddy who played PC Honey in The Bill, famous pro boxer Joe Egan, Bill Fellows, Victoria Hawkins (Emmerdale) and Sharon Percy (I, Daniel Blake) along with many other regional Actors and budding Supporting Artists who have landed the opportunity to take part in one of the largest independent TV productions in many years.
It is hoped that if the Moreland’s Firm TV pitch is a big hit with broadcasters and Streaming services we’ll will see actual filming for the first Series begin as early as next summer with eight episodes being aired sometime in 2021. Writer Danny Cox is already working on Series two and working closely with Morpeth-based Film and Music Video Director FERSON bringing the entire project to life with filming due to begin this Autumn on Tyneside.
Although it’s 30 years since Lesley and I were on the Byker Grove set together – it feels like yesterday – fond memories which I’m sure will come flooding back once the camera starts rolling. It’s great that something like this is being put together and it’s always nice to see efforts like this make something special in the area.
When I worked on Byker Grove it always had a great friendly feeling and all the Dobson’s are like a real family to me. I get similar vibes about this production meeting up with many friends on cast and crew that I have not seen for a quite a while.
Newcastle is a great setting for “Moreland’s Firm” as many excellent movies and television series with a similar theme have been made here before. On first reading of the script however I feel this could well be the most successful yet
“We feel really proud to be able to pilot such an exciting production which has managed to secure a really strong cast with a very ambitious large scale project, which if successful could be the start of many TV and Film productions by North East Films who are actively planning and producing from right here within region rather than out of region companies from London or Manchester”
“Our aim is to help develop a sustainable infrastructure for TV & Film in the region, developing and nurturing talent, cast, crew and high level productions from within the region – this is a very exciting time for North East Films and of course following our long-term plans of what could become a regular TV Series bringing with it huge benefits to the regions tourism and leisure as well as promoting the North East as a whole.”
“We’re a very passionate production company that is striving to make commercially successful TV & Film here in the region, we have large scale vision that would see many films and TV shows being produced locally – so right now we are establishing investment, financial support for projects and building a foundation for which we can create a vibrant regional film industry lending itself to job creation and global export for films and TV based content.
Moreland’s Firm is something very special, original and gritty which will offer viewers a real take on society, life in crime and hard-hitting drama which is relatable, interesting and fascinating to watch. We aim to bring stylistic and cinematic drama to screen with fantastic North East backdrops, interesting characters, the best regional talent – Geordie actors using their own accents and of course some good fast pace action and stunts thrown in the mix also – it’s going to be on the edge of your set drama all the way are getting huge support from local businesses and the general public”