Funnyman Jason Cook brought laughs – and lessons on life and showbiz - to a live question and answer Media Masterclass with students at South Tyneside College.
The stand-up comedian, writer and star of the hit TV series Hebburn, entertained with anecdotes of his career in the industry and tongue-in-cheek revelations about fellow actors and performers.
But he also delivered a serious message for learners aiming at careers in front or behind the camera as writers, performers, producers or directors.
He told them to expect failure and rejection on the path to finding success, but added: “You have to just keep coming back.
“Someone has to make the programmes that you see and hear, and there’s no reason why it can’t be any of us. It sometimes just takes the right person to read the script at the right time.
“You must persevere, adapt to situations and learn from people who are better than you. Hebburn was rejected three times - failure is your friend, and you will learn from it.”
Jason’s appearance at our Studio 5 live performance suite, beamed live across social media channels, was one in a series of star sessions.
Others to have recently passed on their expertise and experience include The Futureheads singer and guitarist Barry Hyde and local Mercury Prize nominated band Field Music.
Jason, 43, told how he originally embarked on a seven-year career at sea after studying marine engineering at the college’s South Shields Marine School in the early 1990s.
It was only when he turned 28 that he finally found the opportunity and confidence to follow his lifelong desire to perform live comedy.
His entry point was a performance at the Edinburgh Festival, and then with the BBC Two series Hebburn, written about his family and home town, he found his breakthrough TV success.
As an example of industry perseverance, he told the audience of mainly film and media students that he had written around 60 television scripts, although only eight had been made.
Of Hebburn and the North East, he said: “Hebburn was about life and family, and it came from real-life stories. You write what you know. A lot of it was true.
“A lot of people in London have a jaded view of the North East, and Hebburn was the first North East sitcom since the Likely Lads. It was realistic, good and funny.
“Not enough stuff is made around here, I don’t think we have enough of an industry for you guys to get into without having to go to London or Manchester, so I’m trying to write as much stuff as I can.
“The people around here would be so passionate, as we found out with Hebburn, to join in and to help you make stuff that’s true and authentic.”
He revealed his latest project to be comedy mystery Murder on the Blackpool Express, a whodunnit about the suspicious deaths of passengers which is expected to be screened later this year.
Other current ideas include casting comedian Johnny Vegas as a serial killer, and a film One Last Job about a group of terminally ill people who rob a bank, which may star Tim Healey.
Lecturer Chris Allan said: “Jason’s visit proved inspirational, and I’m grateful to him for taking the time to speak to our students.
“It was very interesting to hear his career story so far, and to get to know about his life as a writer and performer.
“I hope his visit helps to inspire our current media students to success and encourages others join us on these fantastic courses.”
Jason Cook's full Media Masterclass is available now on our Youtube channel at: https://youtu.be/-Z8-lz-kTho
More information about our media courses is available by visiting www.stc.ac.uk or calling 091 427 3500.
We also hold information open nights from 5pm to 7pm on the first Tuesday of every month.