CHILDREN at a school got a surprise when they found out their new teacher had played on a hit record and appeared on Top of the Pops.

Alan Mowle, the new director of information communication technology at Woodham Community Technology College, in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, is a brass band fan and plays the tuba.

In 1981, while teaching in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, Mr Mowle was a member of the Carlton Main Frickley Colliery Band, which played backing for a novelty single by Tony Capstick.

The record, called Capstick Comes Home, was a parody of the Hovis advert and became a cult classic.

It reached number three in the charts, and was only beaten by Shakin' Stevens' version of This Ole House and Kim Wilde's Kids in America.

Now 48, Mr Mowle's pop star past has fascinated his new pupils, but it is something he prefers to keep under wraps, and said only that "it was a long, long time ago".

He prefers to concentrate on his role at Woodham, where the school's computer suite is in stark contrast to his earlier experiences.

Back in 1980, when he was asked to introduce information technology into his school in Barnsley, there was only one computer.

"Computers were like gold dust in those days," said Mr Mowle, who once drove 100 miles to be first in the queue at 9am on a Saturday to acquire a second machine.

Mr Mowle, whose surname has inspired him to collect models of the furry digging creatures, is looking forward to his new challenge.

He said: "I think there is a great deal that is very good about Woodham and I am looking forward to spending a long time here."