An East Durham couple are hitting the high notes as internet sensations – 50 years after appearing in a bleak TV documentary about sea-coalers.
Pauline and Brian Pounder were caught on camera singing with their band, The Corantos, as part of the 1966 film Low Water.
But the pair forgot all about their starring role as the decades passed – until footage suddenly appeared on the internet this year.
“The rumour at the time was that it was being made for American TV. It was nice to take part, but we never thought we’d see it,” said Brian.
“Then a few weeks ago, out of nowhere, the show suddenly appeared on the internet and people kept telling us we had to have a look.
“It brought back a lot of memories when we finally saw it. We were all so young at the time; we had our whole lives ahead of us.”
The hairs on the back of my neck stood up when I saw Low Water for the fist time, as it brought so many memories back.Brian Pounder, former member of The Corantos - the band show in the film Low water.
Pauline and Brian, childhood sweethearts from the age of 13, were both born in the village of Hesleden, near Hartlepool, in the 1940s.
The pair drifted apart, however, after leaving school – with Brian joining a drama group at Blackhall, while Pauline sang in a church choir.
“In the drama group there was a chap with a guitar. I played piano and we often jammed together,” recalls Brian. “It prompted me to start a band.”
Brian’s musician father, Jack, offered to act as manager and Brian, then an apprentice bricklayer, quickly gathered together three guitarists.
He couldn’t, however, find a drummer so he ditched the piano to learn the drums. But the rhythm band was still missing something vital – a singer.
“That’s when Pauline came back into my life. We did need a singer, but really I was looking for an excuse just to see her again!” said Brian.
The Corantos were soon booked solid months in advance, playing at pubs, clubs, dances, socials and cabaret shows across the North East.
Eventually, as the musicians moved from one gig to another, love blossomed again for Pauline and Brian – and they tied the knot in 1967.
“It was an amazing time. We played with groups like The Searchers and Herman’s Hermit’s – and I got back with Pauline as well!” said Brian.
“We were always touring and, during one gig at The Queen pub in Hartlepool, we were filmed for the TV show. It seemed no big deal at the time.
“The talk was that it was to be shown in America, so we never thought any more about. We certainly never expected to see it all these years later.”
Low Water, a social documentary commissioned by Document Productions Ltd, focussed on the life of Joe Copeland, a hard-working, hard-drinking, sea-coaler.
The 28-minute black and white film, which won first prize at the 12th International Short Film Festival in 1967, was described as “inherently bleak and sombre”.
“Our role was almost at the end. Joe came into the pub for a drink after a hard day of sea-coaling, and we were filmed playing up on stage,” said Brian.
“Joe lived in the Horden and Peterlee areas, and made his living picking coal on local beaches.
“Everyone knew him – he was a lovable rogue, a rough diamond.
“Sadly, he passed away quite a few years ago. But several of his family still live around the area, and at least they can now see him on the film.”
The Corantos, just like Low Water and even sea-coaling, faded into mere memory as the years passed – but music remained in the blood of Pauline and Brian.
Some 20 years ago, when Brian’s mother was in a nursing home, the pair offered to do a gig for the residents - and haven’t stopped playing since.
Today the 70-year-olds, who live in Peterlee, perform as Tack-Ya-Back – and are “run off their feet” with shows up and down Britain.
“The hairs on the back of my neck stood up when I saw Low Water for the fist time, as it brought so many memories back,” said Brian.
“I don’t think it has ever been broadcast on TV, which is such a shame.
“But it seems to be incredibly popular on the internet now – amazing!”