AN actor who has performed in television shows and West End theatres will return to his native North-East this month to play in front of a home audience.

Brian Lonsdale, who was born in Bishop Auckland and grew up in Crook, will take the lead role in The Twelve Pound Look at Bishop Auckland Town Hall on Friday, February 23.

Mr Lonsdale left County Durham to study at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. He was in the original cast of The Pitmen Painters and has starred in War Horse in the West End, television series Doctors and Hustle and was a voice artist in the animated film Valiant!

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He said: "I do get back from time to time to see my pals and Crook and Bishop will always mean a heck of a lot to me.

“I’m very much looking forward to performing in front of a home crowd, although it doesn’t actually make too much difference to either myself or the audience where I perform.

“I just hope that people, whoever I’m performing in front of and wherever I am, get something out of it. I hope people enjoy it, which I think they will.”

The Twelve Pound Lock is an Edwardian comedy, from Peter Pan author J M. Barrie, which focuses on themes of women’s independence and gender equality and is at the venue to celebrate the centenary of women getting the right to vote.

The production is also a home show for director Rory Stuart, ticketing systems officer at Gala Durham.

He said: “It’s great to be part of the Suffragette centenary celebrations and given recent news stories this production feels timely and relevant to conversations we’re having about our perception of women and their role in society.

“Growing up in Bishop Auckland, the town hall was my closest theatre and a place that definitely sparked my interest in the arts.

"I’m really excited to be bringing a show here and producing work in my home town for the first time.”

Viktoria Kay, who plays the female lead in the play, said: “The play not only serves as a historical document as to the enormous difficulties women faced but also reminds us that with unwavering determination and passion, change is possible.”

Other centenary events at the town hall include the Hear My Voice exhibition, a collection of words and images by local women and girls and a screening of the 2015 film Suffragette on Thursday, February 22.

Tickets to all events are available from the box office on 03000-269524.