Made In Durham

Philip Marshall looks at Durham’s big screen potential

chavs clay pigeon made in chelsea mark francis

With the arrival of Whiskey River, a suave new riverside bar by boathouse where a cocktail will set you back a meagre £6 pounds, is Durham becoming that little bit more Chelsea? It certainly has all the credentials. The accents emanating through lecture halls and bars are certainly more Belgravia than Birmingham, the tan lines definitely aren’t reflective of a summer spent in Tyneside and we all dabble in a bit of ‘beveraginying’, as I overheard someone saying the other day. Durham is just crying out for a scripted reality programme. Newcastle has Geordie Shore and we want a piece of the pie.

So for any TV producers that happen to be reading Durham One (and let’s be honest they all probably do), here’s what there is to offer. First thing’s first, there’s the subject of those all important bars, clubs and restaurants where our cast can exchange witty banter and scandalous gossip. The aforementioned Whisky River is a shoe in, of course, and so is Ebony, or anywhere that you wouldn’t go on a social or a night out for that matter. Meanwhile, Flat White, a little-known cafe just off Elvet Bridge, would be an appropriate setting for those afternoon chit-chats over tea.

When it comes to clubs I know what you’re thinking, the options are limited, but there’s nothing that the creative use of camera angles and dim lighting couldn’t cover up. Klute could easily be transformed into a Bouijis-esque nightspot. Those purple walls do have an air of ‘Je ne sais quoi?’ about them and it does have a VIP area after all.

Then there’s the question of the cast. Who will be the lucky few who are chosen to grace our screens and lure in the big audiences? The selection process will obviously be rigorous. First step, round up all the Miffys, Edmunds, Theodoras and Digbys that can be found. The corridors of Hild Bede are probably a good starting point for this. Step two; ask them a series of pertinent questions. Would they say things like ‘Totes, man, totes’? Is their lid as good as Spencer’s? Do they have a blossoming diamond enterprise? This should help whittle down the number of candidates and leave us with a slightly more presentable bunch. Then, for those remaining, ask a few trick questions in order to really separate the wheat from the chaff.

Q: What did you think of Topshop’s autumn range?
A: Any answer other than a snigger would result in immediate disqualification. As a wise man once said, “High street fashion is not allowed under any circumstances” (Mark Francis)
Q: What do you prefer, steak or salad?
A: “I prefer mineral water” is the desired answer. If they say both, they are to be given a leaflet for an obesity clinic and told to leave.
Q: Do you know what ‘reem’ means?
A: “Sorry, I don’t speak chav” would definitely win you brownie points, but a simple ‘No’ would also do.
And so we would be left with the elite few, the chosen ones, the crème de la crème of Durham’s creamy society. All that would remain is to cast out their Hollister T-Shirts, Uggs and any other fashion faux-pas, along with any embarrassing friends they may be unlucky enough to be associated with, and they would be ready for action. Put cameras in front of them, tell one of them they’ve been cheated on and let the good times roll. Drinks will be flying left, right and centre. Thingy will be getting with so-and-so, and they’ll all be heading to Clay Pigeon Soc on Sundays (where hopefully someone will get mistakenly shot, just to make it really scandalous).
Durham would take centre stage on a national basis. Heck, maybe even international? This would be our chance to prove to the world that Dull-ham isn’t actually so dull after all. In fact, it’s decidedly Fun-ham, which sounds a bit like Fulham, which is quite near Chelsea. Coincidence? This reporter thinks not.