The BBC are filming on Tyneside today. Tony Robinson Blackadders Baldrick and presenter of Channel 4s Time Team is presenting a five minute slot about cycling for next Wednesdays BBC midweek lottery programme.
Robinson is a patron of Sustrans due to his friendship with John Grimshaw, director of Sustrans.
Robinsons here on Tyneside because one of the newest and smoothest stretches of the National Cycle Network to be built so far runs past Segedunum of Wallsend. This is a £9m musuem overlooking the ruins of the first Roman fort on Hadrians Wall.
The link with Roman Britain is apt because the National Cycle Network is one of the largest transport infrastructure projects since Roman times (similar in national scope to the canals, railways and motorways).
Segedunum which opens on Saturday and is a fabulous, interactive day out for the whole family, and cheap at £8.50 for a family ticket is unique in that museum visitors can collar genuine working archeaologists as there will be digs close to the musuem buildings for many years.
The person who will press the release button for next weeks lottery draw is one of the six resident archeaologists who uses the new cyclepath to get to work.
The cyclepath is built on the former riverside tramway and has had £0.75m spent on its renovation. Just over a kilometre of the long existing Hadrians Way is now superbly tarmacadamed and theres also a neat new bridge over the access road into Swan Hunters shipyard.
The blacktop is so smooth I had no fears riding along it on my Trek OCLV-framed 5500.
I didnt look like an average user of the NCN but when I turned up to chat to Tony Robinson earlier this morning I was roped in as an extra by the BBC producer. So, next Wednesday, if you see a poser on a blue Trek road-bike wearing a US Postal Services team top (yeh, like Im Lance Armstong!), youll know who it is.
Mind you, dont blink because if it gets on at all itll be about two seconds worth.
However, I felt guilty that a road bike was being filmed on the route. Thats not the sort of image we should be projecting right now: you dont need to be a Lycra shorts wearing athlete to go cycling. But, as luck would have it, when I popped back this afternoon to see how filming was progressing I was able to rescue the situation.
As the TV crew filmed Tony Robinson doing his PTCs (pieces to camera) a good looking young mum and three kids cycled past. The director and crew ignored them. I chased after them on foot told them wehat was happening and persuaded them to come back. As I was photographing them I could see out of the corner of my eye that the director and crew were taking the interest I hoped they would.
The director came across and stole my subjects. There then followed a lovely sequence staged by Tony Robinson. He cycled with the family and let one of the five year olds win a mock cycle race with him.
If that makes it to screen, it should be a nice heart-warming moment of family fun on a traffic-free cycle route. Job done!
Tony Robinson gets beaten into second place by Connor Woodhead, aged 5, of Walker
Famous for 15 minutes: Bridget Woodhead toting Luke, aged one and a half, on the childseat, along with Connor Woodhead, 5, and Daniel Gray, 7.
BASE – top
The smart new blacktopped cycle route passes right by Segedunums bath house, a faithful, full size and exclusive reconstruction of a Roman bath house. The hot and cold rooms are fully functioning, just right for a post-ride rub down amid the steam, frescos and hot-tubs. In the background you may be able to make out the 35m viewing tower. This has fabulous views of the fort, and the cycle path.
BASE – middle This striking arch is at the start of the new blacktopped part of Hadrians Way and represents a ships prow. Wallsend used to be world-famous for
BASE – bottom
Bryn Dowson, regional manager, for Sustrans North East, has been with the film crew all day. (Hes the one in the front, the three bods at the back are archeologists). He told BikeBiz: Theres been a helluva lot of cycle traffic through today. This is going to be a really popular route.