The Border Readers

When Stephen Tomlin moved from Lancaster to Northumberland he went about establishing a touring circuit of regional cultural venues with his new acting associates at The Border Readers.

In 2018, Haunted: Ghost Story Readings for Halloween was launched, with Stephen working with other regionally based colleagues as co-readers. He chose stories (and occasionally abridged them) to give audiences an intimate and memorable live listening experience. By 2019, with nearly double the number of venues, a further selection of supernatural fiction was presented to more audiences over an even wider geographical area.

In the midst of setting up the 2020 tour, Covid-19 struck and that year’s programme was postponed until further notice. With great reluctance we have decided NOT to go ahead with the tour this autumn due to ongoing uncertainty and potential restrictions that would affect our style of presentation in more intimate playing spaces. However we are open to pop up performances at individual new venues, offering a line up of ‘greatest hits’ from the previous two tours. To that end we are provisionally booked at Humshaugh Village Hall on Thursday 28th October and at community arts centre Gallery Forty5 in Felton on Saturday 30th October…More details to follow!

Our Readers for these events will be Janine Birkett narrating The Wall by Kate Clanchy, Stephen Man Size in Marble by Edith Nesbit and Grace Kirby with Safe as Houses by Christine Poulson.

The Readers

Janine Birkett Born in Northumberland and raised in Newcastle, Janette spent her early career touring with Northumberland Theatre Company before joining the Northern Stage Ensemble and performing at Theatre by the Lake; the New Vic Stoke; and the Stephen Joseph Theatre. In the 1990’s Janine was Byker Grove parent, Maggie Watson for three series; and she played Jenny Elliot, Billy’s Mam, in the film Billy Elliot. Other TV and film appearances include: Emmerdale, Hollyoaks, Holby City, The Royal, Inspector George Gently and Coronation Street. BBC Radio drama includes the long-running series My Uncle Freddie and the Jarrow March play, A Woman’s Walk. In the last four years Janine has narrated 40 audio-books including several by Vera author, Ann Cleeves.

Grace Kirby has been an actor, director and teacher for over 30 years. Graduating with BA Hons in Creative Arts from Newcastle Polytechnic she started her career with Tyneside community theatre, Dodgy Clutch. Stage credits include Communicado’s Fringe First award-winning Carmen: The Play and performing alongside Stanley Baxterin one of his legendary Edinburgh pantos. She performed with Hexham based Theatre sans Frontiers on their first English play Diamonds in your Pockets by Linda France and returned in 2018 to workshop new pieces based on Sherlock Holmes stories. In 2019 Grace worked with Librarian Theatre in an adaptation of Quentin Blake’s The Green Ship as Mrs Tredegar on a tour of libraries in southern England, Manchester and Cumbria.


Christine Poulson enjoyed a successful career as an art historian and academic before turning to crime writing. She worked as a curator at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and the William Morris Society, and taught for the Open University and at Cambridge. That city and its surrounding Fens feature in the first of her Cassandra James series of crime novels. Safe as Houses (2007) is about what happens to a young professional couple and their small child when something, or someone, gets into the smart system controlling their home.

Edith Nesbit (1858-1924)When a pair of newlywed artists settle down in a rented cottage in a quiet village, they look forward to a pastoral life of creativity and domestic bliss. But little do they suspect what can happen in the English countryside come Halloween! Man Size in Marble is a well crafted gothic shocker that reveals a very different side of the famous children’s book author, best known for The Railway Children and Five Children and It.

Kate Clanchy is a poet, short story writer and teacher who first came to prominence as the winner of the 2009 BBC Short Story Award. The Wall, originally commissioned by English Heritage, was inspired by her 2017 residency at Housesteads Roman Fort. A moving tale of family loss, love and redemption set on modern day Hadrian’s Wall, it’s as satisfying and original as a good contemporary ghost story can be.