Sunday sit-down with… Rachel Teate
We chat to the BBC Radio presenter, actress and mum about her career, her favourite North East hotspots and where you can catch her live on stage this month…
Rachel Teate has been presenting a weekly show on BBC Radio Tees since 2020. She’s also a familiar face on BBC television, thanks to her roles in Wolfblood and Hollyoaks.
But between 23rd – 26th March, Rachel will be swapping life in front of the camera for the stage, as she returns to Newcastle’s Live Theatre (where she has previously performed in The Girls of Poppyfield Close) to take on the role of panic-stricken rock music fan, Emma, in The Twenty Seven Club.
We caught up with Rachel to find out a little more…
What’s The Twenty Seven Club about?
The story is set in 1994, when Emma, 26, is struggling with anxiety and panic attacks since hearing of the death of musician Kurt Cobain. She’s struggled to focus on anything other than the fact that so many of her favourite rock stars have died aged 27. She becomes obsessed and it takes her on a journey of trying to find out if there’s something else from her past that’s causing all this anxiety. It’s a show with a serious message, but it’s also filled with fun and laughter too. I’m going to be performing alongside Andrew Dawson and Steve Byron, two wonderful actors who are also from the North East.
The play will be quite nostalgic, with lots of ‘90s music and costumes. What was the ‘90s like for you?
My ‘90s were quite different from Emma’s experience of the ‘90s in the play! I first discovered music when school discos were the highlight of the year. All the boys would stand on one side and the girls on another, and usually I’d be in the middle of the dancefloor doing all the routines to every song. I would buy Girl Talk magazine and Top of the Pops was something I watched on a Friday night when I was allowed to stay up a little bit later. I used to copy the hairstyles and fashions of my favourite popstars – including Lolly, Steps and Aqua! My hair would always have two bits left out of a ponytail that would hang down my face and lots of sparkly hair clips from Claire’s Accessories or Tammy Girl. I spent every spare moment I had at dance classes in Middlesbrough or in the local drama club.
Are you looking forward to returning to the stage?
I really can’t wait to be back on stage. The last performance I did was in my hometown of Middlesbrough, in a play called Miss Crispy 1988 with Less is More Theatre Company, which was about a group of women who worked in the local crisp factory but also competed in a beauty pageant. I’d had a lot of time away from the acting industry at that point after having my little boy, Jacob, and it was wonderful to get back on stage again. I was hoping to do a lot more, and then the pandemic hit.
I wondered if the theatres would survive, and I’d watch as many shows as possible online during lockdown to support the industry. It will be a little strange for me being on stage, as my job in radio is speaking into a microphone and not getting any instant reaction back, so I’m looking forward to having a real-life audience there!
When I worked at Live Theatre previously, I loved the energy of the building and how passionate the people working there are. It’s a lovely little family and I’m looking forward to getting back there.
As a North East actor, how do you think the region fares in terms of stage, film and TV opportunities?
I’m really lucky that I’ve never really had to leave the North East to get work and, whilst I’ve done jobs in other places, there is so much going on in the theatre scene here and there are lots of TV and film opportunities. I get really excited when I hear about all the new investment into TV and film in the North East – long may it continue! I think the pandemic has changed a lot of attitudes to auditioning, so more people are getting seen for roles than ever before because of self-taping from home, and that can only be a good thing.
You now host a regular show on BBC Radio Tees. What inspired you to move into broadcasting?
I saw a callout for a competition to become a presenter on the radio and I thought, why not – I can do that! So, I went to the ARC in Stockton for the open auditions. I was given number 60 and I had 60 seconds to talk about anything, so I told a story about a playgroup I had joined as a mum when I moved back to Middlesbrough four years ago. I got through to the final but I didn’t win the competition. Instead of feeling miserable about it, I asked for feedback and more opportunities.
I was offered my first show in April 2020 and I’ve been at BBC Radio Tees ever since. I have my own show on a Friday evening which includes an hour dedicated to other people’s creativity called Upload; it’s nice to be able to give others a platform to share their work. I also work as a reporter for BBC Radio Tees and I love going out and chatting to people across Teesside, County Durham and North Yorkshire. I’m really proud of the work I do and I love covering other shows on the station, even if the breakfast show means a 3am alarm!
How do you juggle presenting, performing and being a mum?
I’m so lucky that I have excellent support from my Mum and Dad and my partner, Chris. I think it’s important that my little boy knows that his Mummy has the career she’s always wanted, but I feel Mum guilt every day. My son, Jacob, is fascinated by what I do and always asks lots of questions. I often include him in my work and talk about him on air, and if we go out for the day we do our own pretend reports! He’s an avid listener and likes asking Alexa to play BBC Radio Tees.
Where do you turn to in the region for family entertainment and days out?
We’re so lucky that we have some gorgeous places right on our doorstep. We love a trip to Preston Park Museum – they have a stage upstairs for the little ones and a brilliant Victorian street with a sweet shop. We like going to Guisborough Woods to follow their Julia Donaldson trails, and you can often find us at the ARC in Stockton – their theatre programme for young people is excellent. I think it’s important that Jacob grows up experiencing as much culture as possible, so we spend a lot of time at the local library, too. He loves trains, so Locomotion at Shildon brings us hours of fun. During lockdown we used to plan our daily walks around when we would see the train arrive at the local station.
And what about nightlife, for the grown ups?
One of our favourite places to go is Sandsend – The Fish Cottage is so good for seafood and you can eat in the open air or inside in the restaurant. Their prawn tacos are incredible! I love being able to sit outside in the summer or wrap up warm in the winter and hear the sea while you eat.
Chadwicks Inn in Maltby is where we would go for a nice meal. The wine there is fantastic, especially their French Malbec, the food is delicious and the service is always impeccable. It’s a real gem of the North East.
If we were going for a family meal, I’d suggest The Sutton Arms in Faceby. It’s a proper country pub, they do a great parmo and their steaks are salt aged in-house. The Sunday lunch there is always gorgeous too; during lockdown we used to get takeaways from there.
For drinks, you can’t beat Tru:Vai in Stokesley. They have plenty of different cocktails on offer – I love their peach bellinis. It’s also great for a cuppa and a cake during the day. I often take my laptop and work in there if I’m trying to work out a different angle on a project.
Finally, what else does 2022 have in store for you?
Creativity in abundance! Whether that be in acting, radio, podcasting, voiceover work, reporting or maybe something else brand new. I learn new things every day and, so far this year, I’ve been lucky to have opportunities to do all of those things, so long may that continue.
You can catch Rachel on stage at Live Theatre performing in The Twenty Seven Club between 23rd – 26th March.
For more information and to book your tickets, visit their website.