ARMED with a handheld camera, director Chris Colebrooke films his cast as they act out another scene from a Whitby soap that is rapidly gaining a cult following.
The show tackles life and death issues such as alcohol abuse or teenage pregnancy, but what separates Chris and the rest of the Whitbyloo Road team is that they are all aged under 16.
With eight series, a feature-length movie, dedicated website and a YouTube channel that has received thousands of views, it’s hard to imagine that the programme was born during a boring evening spent in Pannett Park.
Chris explained: “We went out on a night, but there;s not very much to do so we ended up in Pannett Park. With my obsession with Waterloo Road I was filming everything. These younger kids were annoying us so we told them to go away, and that became the basis of the first episode.”
Chris and his friend Dan Shaw were there right at the start, but the first generation of the Whitbyloo Road cast has moved on, to be replaced by a new team.
Most of the cast are students at Whitby Community College - Dan is the only exception as he works at Thyme and Tide on Flowergate - and so they are busy with exams and lessons. But Sophie Knight joked that Chris often pulls them away from their vital studies to film scenes. “He forces us into it. If we had the choice we probably wouldn’t do it, but Chris blackmails us,” she laughed.
As they develop their editing and directing skills the youngsters are learning a variety of skills, using their own imagination to improve scenes. Through each show they also provide vital life lessons, while offering their own spin on storylines they have seen on television. For example, Whitbyloo Road has witnessed two train crashes, twice as many as Coronation Street, which provided the inspiration.
With thousands of views on their YouTube channel, word is spreading about the show and Chris said he’s even begun to get stopped in the street and asked whether he’s the guy from Whitbyloo Road. He’s even been placed under pressure from family members who want to play a part. “My Nanna’s always asking to be in it,” he said. “So we filmed her dancing and that’s got 195 views online.”
A range of DVDs are even on sale at £2 each, where all 35 episodes can be seen. For more details about these visit www.wix.com/whitbylooroad/whitby.
There is also a Facebook page or get in touch by mentioning @WhitbylooRoad on Twitter.
The Gazette has teamed up with the cast of Whitbyloo Road to offer a special competition. For the chance to win a DVD box set of Whitbyloo Road, a signed cast photograph and an opportunity to have a guest role on the Show, just answer the following question:
Which Whitbyloo Road cast member works at Thyme and Tide on Flowergate?