“Everything that makes Britain great can be found right here in Northumberland,” announced Robson Green at the start of his new ITV series, Tales from Northumberland. It was a bold claim – do they even have a Nando's? – but this proud son of Hexham is so enthusiastic about the land that stretches from north of Newcastle to the Scottish border that we should give him the chance to prove it. And while Robson takes an eight-week trip around his home county, his accent will apparently be roving the length and breadth of the nation. Last night it took in West Kensington and Tyneside, plus a brief stop in County Down.
First on the itinerary was Seahouses, a bucket'n'spade, fish'n'chips seaside town where the Green family spent many a happy holiday. He could have waxed lyrical about that for hours, but luckily there was a boat to catch to Inner Farne, home to one of Britain's largest bird colonies. The island's second largest colony must be ITV documentary-makers, as head ranger David Steel is already familiar from an Inside the National Trust episode broadcast a few weeks back.
Those arctic terns are so aggressive, said Ranger Dave, it's advisable to wear protection. He then handed Robson a black hat so plastered in bird poo it had turned white; it was as if there was a patch of faeces for every week Robson and Jerome's “Unchained Melody” spent at No 1. Nor did the night offer Robson the peace he'd come to Inner Farne expecting. Instead, he spent it in a disused lighthouse with no electricity, no running water and only the cacophonous screeching of 23 different bird species to distract him from dark memories of keeping Pulp's “Common People” off the No 1 spot.