Tabitha Peverley

20 Years of Sunday for Sammy

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It’s that time again.

Every two years the great and the good of North East talent gather to put on a show, all in aid of raising money for the Sammy Johnson Fund. The money raised will be used to give grants to the next generation of Geordie talent in the memory of North East actor Sammy Johnson who died in 1999.

This year marks 20 years since this Geordie celebration spectacular has been going. And it was jam packed with sketches and music as usual. Beginning with a poem spoken by Tim Healy highlighting all the people and things that make us proud to be Geordie, we then had a performance by the one and only Jimmy Nail.
Rosie Ramsey and Jason Cook were back as the Arena security guards with a couple of “new lads” – namely Johnny Vegas and Rosie’s husband Chris Ramsey (though whoever heard of him, right?).

There was a running gag through the sketches involving the ‘checkies’ coming to inspect your tickets and passes which made everyone laugh, and of course there was the traditional Auf Wiederehen, Pet sketch too. A personal highlight for me was the SlackLasses sketch with Denise Welch, Angie Lonsdale, Charlie Hardwick, and Newcastle Boulevard’s own Miss Rory. I couldn’t stop laughing!

Music came from Lindisfarne’s Billy Mitchell, Jimmy Nail, Ray Stubbs, and the legendary Trevor Horn. They also had the traditional performance from some of the recipients of the Sunday for Sammy grant, which involved a beautiful Carole King ballad, sang by Emma Lucia. However, my personal music highlight of the evening was the surprise appearance of Joe McElderry who sang a rather brilliant rendition of Somebody to Love by Queen.

While the show overall was a celebration of being Geordie, and you could tell the whole cast were having fun (as were the audience), there were some sketches and sections that could have been shorter to help the whole thing run a lot smoother. Still, that didn’t stop me feeling sad that it was over for another two years. When the band played the first few chords of Run for Home a tear came to my eye.

That may of course have been because it was Billy Mitchell’s last Sunday for Sammy. Billy has been involved from the beginning and seeing him get emotional when they played a montage of his best bits from the last 20 years made everyone in the Arena a little upset. He even got his own standing ovation before launching into his last ever Run for Home.

He will be a great miss to the shows.

Sunday for Sammy has become a huge bi-annual event that everyone who is anyone looks forward to. It’s a very self-indulgent show of Geordie goodness, but that doesn’t matter, because for one night, everyone is united in their Geordie pride. But you don’t have to take my word for it – the DVD will be available to buy in the next few months. All proceeds from DVD sales also go towards the Sammy Johnson Fund so I urge everyone to buy it!

For now though I will remember the feeling of being among 6500 of my fellow Geordies and being proud of where I come from. Being proud of who I am. That’s what Sunday for Sammy does – it gives you pride.