A trio of superstar Geordies join the stellar cast of the Great North Run Million opening ceremony set to thrill thousands on the Quayside on September 4.
Music superstar Sting has joined the stellar cast of North East talent who will gather next month to make sure the Great North Run Million Opening Ceremony is unforgettable.
As the thousands who have bagged their tickets already know, the Thursday before the 2014 Bupa Great North Run will offer a spectacular start to the celebrations marking the half marathon’s historic millionth finisher.
Dire Straits legend Mark Knopfler, Jill Halfpenny, Tim Healy, The Unthanks and David Almond have all signed up to take part in the event on September 4, which will ‘tell the story’ of the North East and celebrate its industrial heritage.
So it is fitting that Wallsend-born Sting, who made his name as frontman for The Police, will be making his contribution to proceedings by performing The Last Ship from his critically acclaimed album and upcoming Broadway production of the same name.
Inspired by and drawn from his childhood growing up beside the Swan Hunter shipyard, the musical play opened for a well-received run of previews in Chicago earlier in the summer and will open on Broadway in October.
But before that Sting, who fired the starting pistol for the Great North Run in 2009, will bring cast member, and Auf Wiedersehen, Pet star, Jimmy Nail to the Opening Ceremony stage along with some of the region’s most well-known traditional musicians, including renowned Northumbrian piper Kathryn Tickell, The Wilson Family and aforementioned Mercury Music Prize nominees The Unthanks for a special performance on his home turf, which will make the evening even more special.
The ambitious project, the first of its kind on Tyneside, has been devised by the creative team behind the memorable London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic opening ceremonies and will also include Lords of Lightning - two metal-clad figures who harness 4m volts of electricity to amaze crowds - pyrotechnics, mass choreography, and an aerial performance over the Tyne.
Drum ’n’ bass duo Chase and Status will pound out rhythms, massed dancers will move in unison and there will be fireworks and a light projection onto Sage Gateshead too.
And if all that wasn’t enough, Geordie treasures Ant and Dec have also been given a prominent role in proceedings.
The prime time presenting duo, who helped the race get underway in 2010, will be bringing their Saturday Night Takeaway on Tour to the Metro Radio Arena from September 5-7, have been tasked with welcoming the crowds to the Newcastle Gateshead quaysides on September 4.
The pair will be a part of a special ceremony - involving the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) - which will officially acknowledge the Bupa Great North Run as the first event in the world to reach its one millionth finish.
Ant said: “We were the official starters of the Bupa Great North Run in 2010, and for us, the sheer scale of the event then seemed incredible. When you think about that happening year on year for over thirty years, resulting in the finish line being crossed one million times - it really is a special milestone.”
Dec added: “The show will be like nothing we’ve ever seen on the Tyne before. Obviously, as a Newcastle fan, I’m looking forward to hearing Mark Knopfler play Local Hero live, but we’ve heard a little bit more about what to expect and the whole night will be an epic celebration of everything that has made our region great.”
Brendan Foster, founder of the Great North Run, said: “We’re really looking forward to welcoming four of the North East’s own entertainment royalty back to the region. Sting, Mark Knopfler and Ant and Dec have all been honorary starters of the Bupa Great North Run, so it’s very fitting for them to be part of the special celebrations marking our milestone one millionth finish.
“The show will not only reflect our own achievements, it will tell the story of the North East - celebrating a past, present and future of innovation and ingenuity.”
Anyone who has ever taken part in the Great North Run, or who has a place in this year’s event, is eligible for one of 10,000 free tickets for the event, by applying at http://www.greatrun.org/ticket_giveaway
. For those not eligible for the free tickets, they are on sale for the event at www.gnrmillion.org
priced at £12 for adults and £7 for children.
(c) Evening Chronicle by Sam Wonfor