THIS week 15-years-ago former Pop Idol star Gareth Gates performed to 10,000 screaming fans at what was then the Telewest arena in Newcastle.

Gareth, who lost out to Will Young in the first series of the ITV smash hit show Pop Idol in 2002, appeared to the crowd by somersaulting onto the stage.

His set included the hit single Stupid Mistake and Michael Jackson’s The Way You Make Me Feel.

The show also included series winner Will Young, and Darlington star Zoe Birkett, who is coming back to her home town this Christmas in panto at the revamped Hippodrome theatre.

The Northern Echo’s review of the night said Gates “somersaults into sight on wires and pulls the audience into ecstasy”.

While: “Darlington diva Zoe Birkett opens in a racy red outfit, which matches her wholehearted approach to pop performing.

“She moves around the arena stage with such confidence that you can hardly remember the 16-year-old who brought tears to the eyes of pop veteran Pete Waterman.”

Elsewhere in the region, The Gala Theatre in Durham City was preparing to host England’s leading children’s theatre festival, Take Off.

The creativity continued in North Yorkshire as children became film-makers for the week as part of Thirsk Ritz cinema’s film festival.

Workshops were held at the cinema and the Rural Arts Centre where the children learned how to prepare, film, produce and edit a movie.

The finished products had their own special screening for parents and friends.

On a sad note, former Northern Echo district reporter, John Grigsby, died at the age of 75. Mr Grigsby worked in the newspaper’s Durham City office, in the mid-1960s, when Sir Harold Evans was the editor.

Highly regarded by his peers, Mr Grigsby left the Echo to join The Daily Telegraph. There he covered the 1966 Aberfan disaster.