Hebburn 's a love letter to my mum and dad ; SARAH SCOTT talks to the writer of the hit sitcom Hebburn, returning soon for a second series, about how he got inspiration for the show from close to home, writing a Christmas special, and his plans for the future
TO the writer behind the hit sitcom Hebburn, the show is more than just a roaring ratings success. For comic Jason Cook says the series is a love letter, a tribute to his mum and dad.
With the ink barely dry on the second run of his BBC sitcom, which will take viewers back to the South Tyneside town later this year, Jason told how his own folks inspired some of the new storylines.
"There's a lot of female empowerment in this series, which is something we are all about," Jason told the Sunday Sun.
"It's a story written by me for my mother. It's a love letter to my mum and dad."
Hebburn tells the story of the Pearson family and their son, Jack, played by South Shields-born Chris Ramsey, who marries middle- class Jewish girl Sarah.
Series one ended with a second 'wedding' ceremony that was abruptly ended when dad Joe, played by comedian Vic Reeves, had a stroke.
Jason added: "My dad had a stroke - he died in 2008 - and that's why I incorporated that into the script."
And it's not only the script which is heavily influenced by Jason's memories of his family life in Hebburn.
The Pearson family home is in fact modelled on the home which Jason grew up in with his beloved parents.
"All of the interior is a set in Manchester and all the exterior is a street in Hebburn. It is the street I grew up and it's where I always wanted to set it," he said.
"The people who live in our old house very kindly let us go in and measure it up inch for inch and we built it in Manchester. I walked in and it was like going back 20 years. When my mum came down she was blown away."
The comic, who also performs as a stand-up, has spent the past few months coming up with the second six-part series of the popular show, due to hit North TV screens in the autumn.
The first series won critical acclaim and scooped the Royal Television Society Award for best drama.
Despite the sunshine outside, Jason is now busy penning a Hebburn Christmas special. But he said he was raring to get going with filming over the summer.
"We are starting filming in the middle of August and that will go through for seven weeks, with probably about a of that in Hebburn doing ion stuff," he revealed. "The rest will be in the studioanchester with the sets. "Then it will hopefully bewn in the autumn/winter this will be followed by Christmas special.
week locati "Th in Ma "Th show time. the C "I h sixth last Chris that i Foll cess scribe ing" "On first about we go which ing," used impro have finished writing the episode. I finished that week. There's still the stmas episode to go, so is this week's activity." lowing the writing procomes what Jason deed as the "heart- breakediting period.
"Once we finish writing thedraft it goes through t 20 to 30 drafts and then o into the editing process his long and heart- break" he said. "But I have got to it now. We are only ever oving."
The new series will bring all kinds of twists and turns for the Pearsons and their friends, Jason said.
"I am not allowed to give away much, but one of the characters will have a new relationship which will be very nice and exciting, and there's some life-changing moments for all the characters, really," he said.
"What we tried to do was to take the characters for the first series and develop them further rather than the same old thing."
As well as welcoming back the old faces, which also include North actress Gina McKee as Jack's mother Pauline, Jason is introducing some new characters.
"We have a couple of great new characters which I am really enjoying writing who will affect the lives of everyone," he said.
"We are going into casting now and I have ideas of people I would really like to do the parts but we have to go through the process and chose who's best for the role.
"There's a couple of quite big names who I have spoken to and are up for it so I hope to get them in and see if they fit.
"I have been in touch with a few big names in comedy who also act, so hopefully we will get that to work. But these are big stars and we have to fit into their diaries."
Jason is also looking forward to reuniting with the old cast when they meet for a week of rehearsals for the second series shortly before filming starts again in August.
"It is great fun and anything me and Graham (Duff, who also writes Hebburn) would like to see done we will ask for and we will work on any tweaks," he said. "I am really looking forward to it."
Despite the hard work, Jason said working on Hebburn was one of the best things he had ever done. "It's the most fun I have ever had in my life, even though it is completely exhausting," he said.
But for now Jason is concentrating on the Christmas special, which will air after the second series has come to an end.
"I have known what it is going to be for a long time. It is something I have always wanted to do, get a Geordie Christmas on TV," said Jason. "There's something special about it but I am sure it will resonate with others.
"It's just I have never seen my family's Christmas on TV, it's always a bit too twee. But a Hebburn family is just great, just proper working-class families."
"There's a couple of quite big names who I haave spoken to and are up for it so I hope " " to get them in and see if they fit
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