Author: Peter Lathan

Peter Lathan first appeared on stage in a school play at the age of 13 in 1956 when he played Marion in Sean O’Casey’s Cock-a-Doodle-Dandy. He first directed a play – Chekhov’s The Anniversary – in 1966. He has been involved in theatre ever since. He has taught Drama in schools, youth theatres and stage schools, whilst also running drama classes for recovering addicts and adults with severe learning disabilities. He has written more than 35 plays and directed over 70 from site-specific Shakespeare to touring pantos, from new writing to classic plays, from Theatre in Education to corporate productions. He is the author of It’s Behind You: The Story of Panto. He has been, variously, artistic director of theatre company KG Productions (2000 – 2016), chairman of the board of the Wearabout Theatre Company of Sunderland, and a Trustee of the Customs House in South Shields (9 years) and of No Limits Theatre Company, a professional company for adults with a learning disability In 2001 he founded the online British Theatre Guide which he edited for 11 years. He remains its North East editor.

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Dear London

Peter Lathan
A photo of the city of london building

Yes. OK. Right. We get it. You’re the capital city. You’re important. You’ve got the Houses of Parliament, Whitehall and Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London and all the rest. Of course you have. And you’ve got the Royal Albert Hall and the Wigmore Hall and the Royal Festival Hall and the Queen Elizabeth Hall […]

North East Ghost Stories Part 8

The ghosts of Chillingham Castle

Peter Lathan

Chillingham Castle, near Wooler on the English side of the Scottish Border, can lay claim to being not just one of most haunted stately home in the country but possibly the most haunted.

North East Ghost Stories PART 7

Haunted stately homes in the North East

Peter Lathan

The Stately Homes of England,Though rather in the lurch,Provide a lot of chancesFor Psychical Research –There’s the ghost of a crazy younger sonWho murdered, in thirteen fifty-one,An extremely rowdy NunWho resented it,And people who come to callMeet her in the hall.The baby in the guest wing,Who crouches by the grate,Was walled up in the west […]

A right worrit…nothing like my mam…

Peter Lathan

I think it was on Twitter. I think it was, but I’m not sure. Not that it matters. Not really. Anyway, be that as it may, I read that those people who prefer to watch old TV series or films which they’ve seen before, rather than new, almost certainly suffer from anxiety. What a load […]

North East Ghost Stories PART 6

The Alnwick vampire

Peter Lathan

In the eleventh century our protagonist was a servant to Lord de Vesci of Alnwick Castle, a couple of hundred years before the Percy family bought it. It still remains in the Percy family and the current owner is Ralph Percy, the 12th Duke of Northumberland. But that’s irrelevant so let’s get back to the […]

North East Ghost Stories PART 5

Beware of Peg Powler!

Peter Lathan

“Beware o’ Peg Powler! Don’t tha go near to t’river bank!” That’s what generations of Teesdale parents have told their children. But it’s not just children that should take heed. Peg will grab anyone who gets too near the water’s edge and will drag them to their death in the river. Some say Peg would […]

North East Ghost Stories PART 4

The pickled parson of Sedgefield

Peter Lathan

The Reverend James Gamage, Rector of Sedgefield in County Durham from 1718 to 1747, certainly knew on which side his bread was buttered – and how to keep it that way! He was a prebend (a canon or member of the Chapter of a cathedral who was paid for administrative services) at Salisbury Cathedral at […]

North East Ghost Stories PART 3

The Cauld Lad of Hylton

Peter Lathan
the cauld lad of hylton

I’ve known the story of the Cauld Lad of Hylton all my life. When he was cold, my dad wouldn’t simply say, “I’m freezing” or something like that, but he’d clasp his arms around himself and moan, in sepulchral tones, “Aa’m cauld! Aa’m cauld!”

North East Ghost Stories PART 2

John the Jibber

Peter Lathan

If you wake at midnight, and hear a horse’s feet, Don’t go drawing back the blind, or looking in the street, Them that ask no questions isn’t told a lie. Watch the wall my darling while the Gentlemen go by. Five and twenty ponies, Trotting through the dark – Brandy for the Parson, ‘Baccy for […]

North East Ghost Stories PART 1

The woman who haunts Sunderland Empire Theatre

Peter Lathan

Molly Moselle (that was her stage name; her real name as Mary Burslem) was a dancer but, like most people in theatre then and now, she couldn’t always find get a performing job and was forced to take on other work, so in January 1949 she was an ASM (Assistant Stage Manager) on a touring […]

I’m a smoker

Peter Lathan

I started smoking when I was about 14 (1957 or thereabouts) and I smoked, more or less without interruption, until I was 71. I say “more or less” because I did try to give up on a number occasions – once I lasted four days and then my wife threatened that she would sit on […]


Daytime TV: rubbish and repeats

Peter Lathan

My first contact with daytime TV was when my mother had to go into a care home. At first we used to visit her in her room but as her mobility became more restricted and she had to use a wheelchair and relied on the staff to push her around (she was well over 90), […]


Daytime TV: Dead comedians’ channel

Peter Lathan

OK. Yes. I do watch a fair amount of daytime TV. I admit it. I never used to, but self-isolation / shielding / lockdown forced it on me. And it’s not all nightmare-inducing; some of it is fun. So what do I watch? Well, mainly Gold (or, as I prefer to call it, the Dead […]


Daytime TV: a command from on high

Peter Lathan

What a day! Early afternoon and thick black clouds full of rattling and rumbling thunder; lightening sharp and dazzling; hailstones as big as golf balls stotting off the ground and bouncing three feet into the air. And it’s dark, miserable, cold. God, if this is August, what’s December going to be like? There’s a hammering […]

Covid and me: another two days

Peter Lathan

Day 501, Friday, 16 July, 2021 – Where Has the Time Gone? Look through my Journal entries for the last couple of months and what do you see? My usual ramblings and meanderings? I’ve been a bit more testy than usual, perhaps? Probably. But really, not much different, eh? The mixture as before? TV, writing […]

Research? Can’t be bothered

Peter Lathan

I had this idea for an article for NE Bylines and so I started giving it some thought. After a while, though, I realised it was going to take a lot of research and that I couldn’t be bothered, so I dropped it. That’s one of the benefits of being retired and a pensioner, you […]

The unfinished play in South Shields

Peter Lathan

In 2012 I was asked to direct a revival on my first play ever to get a professional outing (on tour in 1975, no less!), a version of The Mysteries, as a community production for the Customs House in South Shields. It featured amateur actors and choir with a professional production team and we performed […]

JournalPART 4

Covid and me: a year of shielding

Peter Lathan

Day 369, Saturday, 6 March, 2021 : A most unwelcome anniversary of shielding    One year to the day since my self-isolation/shielding/incarceration/call it what you will began. Could anyone in early March 2020 have imagined that we would be in a third lockdown a whole twelve months later? Could anyone have conceived what lockdown would mean for […]

JournalPART 3

Covid and me as 2021 begins

Peter Lathan

Day 305, Friday, 1 January, 2021 : New Year 2021 It was midnight, the last midnight of 2020, and Covid 19, clothed in black drab, mystic, horrible, spoke. “You don’t think I’m going to go quietly, do you? That I’ll just scuttle off before a flurry of fireworks and the singing of Auld Lang Syne? […]

JournalPART 2

Covid and me: Christmas ‘celebration’ and tiers

Peter Lathan

In the North East we, of course, will be in Tier 3, whilst London, whose rates are rising while ours are falling, will be in Tier 2. Of course. Well, we are in the north and London is London and must therefore be better than us. Even if it isn’t.

JournalPART 1

Covid and me: some highs and lows

Peter Lathan

Somebody asked me what are the top three places I would go to once my incarceration is finished. That’s easy. I’d head for the bar at Alphabetti Theatre in Newcastle, the bar at Live Theatre, also in Newcastle, and the bar at the Customs House in South Shields. Not for the drink — I’ve got plenty of wine and single malt at home — but for the company and conversation of like-minded theatre-lovers. For I have missed all that so much.


What is the point of peas?

Peter Lathan

You may by now have reached the conclusion that I am not a fan of the pea. ‘Tis true, I’m not. A childhood in which tins of Marrowfat Peas were always to be found in the kitchen did not enamour them to me.


Writing a diary entry: 3 June 2021

Peter Lathan

You’d have thought that, as it now seems that we are emerging from the abyss of Covid-19 and the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel is perceptively brightening, and with the government aiming to loosen all restrictions on 21 June, my mind would be reacting with greater positivity, with a surge of energy, greater hope and optimism.

Social media: an improvement on the letters page?

Peter Lathan

Now, however, we have the internet and the outlets open to them have multiplied enormously, for there are not only comment sections on every news story published by every media outlet but there are groups of all kinds which invite – nay, beg for! – contributions from Joe and Josephine Public


Big panto takeover: North East and beyond

Peter Lathan

One of the biggest international producers of Musical Theatre, Crossroads Live which has offices in Los Angeles, London and Sydney, has announced the acquisition of Qdos Pantomimes.

Escape by TV

Peter Lathan

It’s like comfort food, I suppose. It’s safe, doesn’t create any anxiety, and that’s what you want in what are anxious times.