In anticipation of the Hartlepool by election this Thursday (6th May 2021), I thought I would showcase some of the famous names (other than myself of course) who either hail from Hartlepool, or lived there for a period of their lives. Who would have thought that there were so many !
- Andy Capp – Andy is a working-class figure who never actually works, living in Hartlepool with his long suffering wife, Flo. * Not a real person*
- Andy Linighan – Born in 1962, he played for his hometown club before scoring the winning goal with a header for Arsenal in the 1993 FA Cup final replay against Sheffield Wednesday.
- Janick Gers – Born in 1957, the guitarist was part of Hartlepool heavy metal band White Spirit before joining Gillan and later rock legends Iron Maiden.
- Savannah Marshall – Born in May 1991, Marshall became the first British female amateur world boxing champion in 2012 and also represented Great Britain at middleweight in the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games.
- Sir Compton Mackenzie – The author of novel Whisky Galore and co-founder of the Scottish National Party was born in West Hartlepool in 1883 although it is believed his theatrical family left town within weeks. He died in 1972.
- Phil Middlemiss – He is best known for television appearances as bookie Des Barnes in Coronation Street and as David Buckley in Where the Heart Is.
- Jack Rowell – Born in 1937, Rowell coached rugby union side Bath before taking charge of the England national side and leading them to the semi-final of the 1995 World Cup.
- Sir Ridley Scott – While born in South Shields in 1937, movie director Scott is included after attending West Hartlepool College of Art before later finding fame as director of Alien and Gladiator. His early short movie Boy and Bicycle is also filmed here.
- Wayne Sleep -Although born in Plymouth in 1948, the future ballet dancer and choreographer moved to Hartlepool with his family in 1951 and spent ten years there. from the ages of two and 12 and still returns to town occasionally to train tomorrow’s potential stars.
- Jeff Stelling – Born in 1955, the Sky Sports Gillette Soccer Saturday anchorman, Hartlepool United fanatic, charity fundraiser and former Hartlepool Mail journalist has never forgotten his roots and is an honorary freeman of the town.
- Wincey Willis – is a former weather forecaster and television presenter who spent part of her life growing up in town. Her first name is apparently short for Winsome. She also went to the same junior school as me (quite a few years ahead of me I must add), quite possibly her most important claim to fame.
- Guy Pearce – A star of Australian soap opera, Neighbours, Guy and his family lived in Hartlepool until he was four, when they moved ‘down under’. He is also known for his roles in films such as Rules of Engagement, Memento and LA Confidential.
This is not an exhaustive list, and I am sure you will all be able to think of others who should be on the list.
Christmas is the perfect time for family, food, gifts, over-indulgence… and films.
If you are lucky, you will have some time off work over the festive period, giving you plenty of time to spend with the family. However, when the novelty of that rapidly wears off (after all, we have all spent more time together than we normally would this year), there is no better way to escape than to curl up on the sofa and watch your favourite Christmas films.
So if Granny is snoring away in the comfy chair and grandad is telling you endlessly about how things were better in his day, or you just need a break from eating yet more turkey sandwiches, the film is there to rescue you.
So what classes as a Christmas film ? This is a major bone of contention in the Pro-Clean office, with some saying it should be a Bond film or any version of Die Hard, and others saying it should be a smushy festive film that is guaranteed to bring you to tears during the opening sequences.
To help with that, I thought I would offer up my top 10 Christmas films, and give my review of each one to help you choose the best. So here goes (in no particular order)…………
- Home Alone (1990) – Eight-year-old Kevin is accidentally left behind when his family leaves for France. At first, he is happy to be in charge, but when thieves try to break into his home, he tries to put up a fight.
Now the problem I have with this film is that Kevin is only 8 and is already showing psychopathic tendencies. Not only does he delight in causing pain and misery to the would be burglars, he knows how to do it and has the skills to set up flame throwers etc. I seriously worry for Kevin when he grows up.
- Elf (2003) – Buddy, a human, is raised amongst elves at the North Pole. When he discovers that he is not an elf, he travels to New York to search for his biological father.
I can’t be the only one who finds Buddy the most annoying person / elf in the world EVER. He is constantly over cheerful and ridiculously enthusiastic in everything he does. Arghhhh. I’ll still watch it though.
- The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992) – This film closely follows the Charles Dickens plot and is the story of how miser Ebeneezer Scrooge has his life turned around after he is visited by the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future.
Now this is more like it. From singing cabbages to the magnificent double act of Gonzo (the narrator) Rizzo the Rat with his pithy and sarcastic commentary, there can’t be a finer re-telling of this tale in existence. Granted, Michael Caine can’t sing and is a wooden actor, but come on…… it’s the Muppets !!!!!!
- Die Hard (1998) – An NYPD officer tries to save his wife and many others, who have all been taken hostage by German terrorists during a Christmas party at the Nakatomi Plaza in LA.
The only reason that this is classed as a Christmas film is because it was set during the festive period, which is why many people don’t class it as a Christmas film. They are all completely wrong of course and none of that matters as this is the plot style that all modern action films have, or should have followed since it was released. Absolute classic of a film, with guns and explosions and one liners a-plenty. ***Disclaimer – no dirty white vests were harmed during the making of this film.
- The Nightmare Before Christmas (2003) – A typically dark Tim Burton classis musical about a proposed merger between Halloween Town (run by the magnificent Jack Skellington) and Christmas Town (run by Santa Claus) that goes wrong.
I absolutely love the stop motion animation style of Tim Burton, with it’s accompanying dark music and backgrounds. My main problem with this film though is that it is really a Halloween film and not a Christmas one. That said, it is a masterpiece in animation, so we will forgive them.
- Gremlins (1984) – Plenty of Christmas presents come with instructions, yet none are as ominous as the following: Never expose to bright light, never add water and, crucially, never feed after midnight. Joe Dante’s horror-comedy turns a well-intentioned gift into a nightmare, with disastrous consequences.
Why would anyone in their right mind go into a dingy, dark, smoky basement shop and buy something from an old man who has clearly been smoking some strong stuff and has warned you not to buy from him? Nevertheless, this is an excellent film (which I remember going to the cinema to see when it came out – #OLD) with some real comedy moments. Who can forget the Gremlin in a blender moment, or the cinema full of them all singing New York, New York ? A must watch film for any sensible minded person.
- How The Grinch Stole Christmas (2000) – Based on the 1957 book How the Grinch Stole Christmas! by Dr Seuss, it is the live action adaptation of the story featuring Jim Carey in the titular role. The Grinch is a mean spirited green thingymabob who plots to steal all the Christmas presents from the residents of Whoville. To cut a long (and rhyming) story short, he gets nicer and ends up enjoying Christmas.
Apart from the bit where he gets nicer, this is a great film which showcases the talents of Jim Carey perfectly. Any resemblance between the Grinch and me is purely co-incidental – I’m not green anyway !
- Family Guy Christmas Episodes – Peter Griffin is the childish, overweight husband of Lois, with 3 kids, Chris, Meg (shut up Meg) and Stewie, and a talking dog Brian. Based in Quahog, Rhode Island, this is the tale of the dysfunctional family struggling to cope with normal life amid Peter’s odd behavior.
Ok, this is not really a film, but Family Guy has to be the best animated series EVER (even better than that yellow lot in Springfield), and who amongst us males hasn’t secretly wanted to be a bit like Peter Griffin ?
- Jingle All The Way (1996) – Howard (Arnie) a haggard salesman, promises his son a Turbo Man toy for Christmas. He is forced to fight every parent and travel all over town to get the toy after he forgets to buy it.
Ok, it’s a bit rubbish if you take into account Arnie’s acting skills (mediocre at best) and the dodgy plot line where he ends up being Turbo Man. However, it’s really fun seeing a pair of fathers leaving present buying to the last minute (as if !!) and fighting their way through the shops to find the perfect, must have present.
- Any Bond Film – James Bond (007) is a British Secret agent with a license to kill.
What more could you want over Christmas than to sit back and watch Bond schmooze and shoot his way through his latest mission, getting the girl and annoying his boss. Anybody who doesn’t like Bond is off my friends list.
So there you have it, my top 10 Christmas Films ever.
Stay tuned (see what I did there?) for some exciting news, introducing a revolutionary way of keeping your carpets clean all year round.