The Border Readers

When Stephen Tomlin moved from Lancaster to his new base in Northumberland he intended to carry on professional activities, albeit in a different form, in establishing a touring circuit of regional cultural venues with his new associates, The Border Readers.

In 2018, Haunted: Ghost Story Readings for Halloween was launched, with Stephen inviting locally based colleagues to join him 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 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 to autumn 2021. There is still much uncertainty as to when and how live entertainment can resume so we will post here, on Facebook and Twitter to update on the situation as it evolves over the coming months.


Alice Blundell is a Newcastle based actor and musician. Graduating from the Academy of Live and Recorded Art (ALRA) she went on to co-found national touring company The Letter Room. Alice has worked extensively at Northern Stage on their Christmas shows; Tallest Tales from the Furthest Forest, The Christmas Grump, Wizard of Oz, James and the Giant Peach and Alice in Wonderland and for November Club in the award winning musical Beyond the End of the Road. Other credits include The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart (New Vic Stoke), Far from the Madding Crowd (The Watermill) and Treasure Island (Queens Theatre Hornchurch) and Clear White Light (Live Theatre). TV credits include Hospital People (Rough Cut TV/BBC) and George Gently (Company Pictures/BBC)

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.

Sue McCormick is based in Dumfrieshire. She has worked in theatres nationwide, including Royal Exchange, Library, Palace and Opera House in Manchester,West Yorkshire Playhouse, Oldham Coliseum, Theatre by the Lake Keswick, New Vic Stoke, Dukes Lancaster as well as touring extensively with Northern Broadsides and Hull Truck Theatre. TV includes Hollyoaks, Emmerdale, Coronation Street, Holby City, Casualty and Where the Heart Is. She has recorded several plays for BBC Radio 4 and BBC Learning Online. Sue also works as a theatre director, playwright and novelist.

Summer Spooks…We were invited to be part of a series of diverse events at the Lit & Phil in Newcastle to mark midsummer in 2019. Our old friend and colleague Penny McDonald joined narrative forces with Stephen for this well attended one off reading event. Penny read Edith Nesbit’s The Violet Car and Muriel Spark’s The Executor while Stephen narrated the M R James A View From A Hill.