Actor Stephen Tompkinson set to star in new North East crime thriller, Harrigan

PUBLISHED: 11:53 25 September 2012 | UPDATED: 21:56 20 February 2013

Stephen Tompkinson as Harrigan

Stephen Tompkinson as Harrigan

A thriller based on a real-life North East detective is being supported by people throughout the region, including A-list actor Stephen Tompkinson

We all know the North East and its people have star quality. But over the next few months our region will be thrown into the limelight when a new feature film, produced by a group of locals, is released.


Harrigan is a gritty thriller based on the experiences of disenchanted Tyneside detective Barry Harrigan. It is set in Newcastle in the 1970s and follows Barry as he returns to his patch following an undercover stint in Hong Kong.


The main character is based on the life of former detective turned writer, Arthur McKenzie, who rose through the ranks of vice, beat, CID and serious crime squad before retiring after 31 years as detective inspector in charge of the toughest division of Newcastles West End. Since then he has become an award-winning writer for stage, television, film and books as well as radio including writing for The Bill and Wycliffe. He also competed interntaionally in the discus and shot put.

Harrigan was filmed on location in Newcastle, Hartlepool and South Shields this year and director, Vince Woods, had just 24 days to get the camera work done.

He said: It was an incredibly tight schedule for something that has babies in it, children in it, animals in it, a large cast, multiple locations, action, fires and stunts.


But Arthur brings a rich depth to his writing because of his own experiences. Hes lived life to the full as an international athlete and multiple decorated police detective. He saved lives on numerous occasions. Theres nothing more quirky than real life and we have to tone down a lot of Arthurs stuff because people just wouldnt believe it.

It was down to the help of Arthurs daughter and businesswoman, Kirsty Bell, that the film got off the ground. The successful tax expert helped raised the $2 million budget needed by attracting private investors interested in film production. She is also the producer of TallTree Pictures Ltd, the film company she set up with Vince in 2009. Newcastle entrepreneur Paul Rogers is executive producer and has also invested.

Harrigan, which has already been screened at Cannes Film Festival and is due to be premiered this autumn, stars Stockton-born actor Stephen Tompkinson. It is the first time the Ballykissangel and Wild at Heart star has had a lead role in a British film.

He said: Arthur McKenzie is an absolute legend. Hes an incredible character. Im honoured to try to fill the shoes of an amazing man who was a hard but compassionate policeman during a tremendously difficult period but really respected on the streets.

Harrigan has been a marvellous role to play. He sees the place he cares about has gone to rack and ruin and he needs to clean it up. He is a complex character and it is a fantastic role to play. The script is brilliant. The whole team involved in the project are extremely passionate about it and I am thrilled to be part of that.

For Arthur seeing his script some to life has been a dream come true.
He said: Harrigan was an idea that I came up with 16 years ago and Im absolutely delighted that my daughter Kirsty has been able to raise the finance to turn my dream into a reality.

Im very proud of what she has achieved and am thrilled Stephen Tompkinson is so brilliant in the role.

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