BBC presenters learn how to drive the Shields Ferry

BBC Newcastle presenters Alfie Joey and Anna Foster on board the Shields Ferry Spirit of the Tyne with Ferry Skipper Chris McGuinness
16 July 2019

BBC presenters Alfie Joey and Anna Foster have been put through their paces driving the Shields Ferry.

Alfie and Anna, who host BBC Radio Newcastle’s breakfast show, got the chance to take the controls for an impromptu lesson under the close supervision of the crew.

They piloted Spirit of the Tyne to the mouth of the River Tyne as part of a feature for BBC Newcastle.

They were given access to the vessel’s wheelhouse and were shown how to steer the vessel using its modern joystick-style control desk.

Nexus, the public body which owns and operates the ferry, gave the BBC a chance to drive the ferry to tie in with a live broadcast about the iconic cross-Tyne service on Radio Newcastle’s breakfast show on Thursday 18 July..

Alfie and Anna were put under instruction by Ferry Skipper Chris McGuinness.

He said: “They did really well for their first lesson. Driving the ferry is one of them jobs that’s a lot harder than it looks, but they quickly got the hang of the controls and they weren’t too daunted by it at all.

“The Spirit of the Tyne is the newer of our two boats, so she has a very modern control system. The steering is all done by using two small joysticks. The trick is to get used to controlling the movements of the vessel this way.

“To be able to pilot the ferry all the way up to the mouth of the Tyne was a great effort.

“The Shields Ferry is an iconic and historic local service that links North Shields and South Shields, so we were thrilled to welcome the BBC team on board to have a look around behind the scenes.”

Alfie said: “It was a privilege to be able to drive the Shields Ferry. It took more concentration than I am used to and I press buttons for a living!

“The size of the vessel when you are at the wheel is unbelievable and the controls are so reactive. There is control and power there that I didn’t expect.”


Alfie Joey, BBC Newcastle

Anna Foster, BBC Newcastle

Shields Ferry Skipper, Chris McGuinness

The BBC's Alfie Joey shown how to drive the Shields ferry

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