A GRITTY new detective drama set and shot in the North-East had its UK premiere in the region tonight (Monday, September 16).

A touch of Hollywood glamour reached Durham City as the stars of Harrigan arrived to a red carpet welcome at the city’s Gala Theatre.

The 500 tickets available for the keenly-anticipated premiere sold out in just ten days and film fans braved the autumn cold to see household British names such as Stephen Tompkinson grace the Walkergate entertainment complex.

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Stockton-born Tompkinson, star of DCI Banks, Ballykissangel and Brassed Off, who takes the title role of detective Barry Harrigan, said: “It’s delightful to be back. When I grew up Stockton was part of County Durham so to have the premiere in my capital city is fantastic. I was last here for the (Ashes) Test match, so it couldn’t be better for me.”

Harrigan, which has a reputed budget of £1.1m, is a Get Carter-inspired dark and murderous tale set in 1974 Tyneside, with the detective returning from policing in Hong Kong to strikes, social unrest and violence on the streets. Filming locations included the Swan Hunter shipyard and Hartlepool.

Writer Arthur McKenzie said about half came from his experiences of having been a detective in Tyneside in the 1970s. Originally destined for television, it took McKenzie 17 years to get his script filmed.

But Tompkinson insisted the North-East film industry was in “amazing” shape.

“The crew that filmed Harrigan, it was their third film back-to-back and they were off to do another one afterwards. (Film company) Tall Trees showed me the script one January and the next we were filming. I wish it all the best and hope it goes on doing well.”

Harrigan has received mixed reviews. Theupcoming.co.uk said: “an entertaining watch, but probably a good one to wait for DVD release.” Filmandempire.com said: “Gripping, edge of your seat drama.”

Several reviews have commented on its violent content.

Harrigan, rated 15, will be released at cinemas across the region from Friday (September 20). It also stars Sunderland-born Maurice Roeves, of The Last of the Mohicans, and Gillian Kearney who played Jessica Harrison in Casualty.

Guests on the red carpet for tonight’s premiere included comedian Brendan Healy and columnist John Gibson.