The Fighting Bradfords: The Gala Theatre, Durham

IN the face of First World War carnage, many men found previously undiscovered levels of courage where heroism and selfless acts of bravery would end in almost certain death. Almost no family across the country was untouched by the Great War, but few were affected quite like The Bradfords from Witton Park, in Durham.

As part of Durham County Council`s impressive series of events to mark the centenary of The Battle of the Somme, we discover the story of the four Bradford brothers, James, George, Thomas and Roland (played respectively by North-East actors Jamie Brown, Micky Cochrane, Chris Connel and Justin McDonald) whose bravery honours included two Victoria Crosses. Roland becoming the youngest Brigadier General in the history of the British Army at the age of 25.

Its told through the eyes of the eldest, Thomas, the only brother to return home, in conversation with an idealistic history student, Joe King in the 1960s, who had found the identity tags of Roland in a junk shop.

The thrilling tale cleverly switches from present to past at the blink of an eye with Thomas reverting to his young self. One cannot fail to be moved by the devastation caused to the boys’ mother Amy, brilliantly played by Jessica Johnson.

The Fighting Bradfords was a unique portrayal of Durham`s most famous brothers that brought their story to life in a hugely enjoyable and informative way providing a fitting tribute to their bravery and enduring legacy. Highly recommended.

* Runs at Durham Gala Theatre until Saturday, September 17. Tickets: £12 to £15. Box Office: 03000-266600 or

Mick Burgess/Mark Tallentire