Mark's So Happy to Hop Back to His Native North-East; Toad Role for Teesside TV Star

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Byline: SOPHIE BARLEY

A TEESSIDE-BORN comedy actor who has starred in a host of top shows will hit the stage this Christmas taking the lead role in The Wind in the Willows.

Mark Benton will play Toad in the festive family show which will be performed at Northern Stage in Newcastle.

Mark, who was brought up in Grangetown, in Middlesbrough, said one of the best things about taking the role is that he will be back in the North-east.

He said: "The North-east's cultural scene is really healthy at the moment and I'm looking forward to my time spent working with Northern Stage, as they have a great reputation for producing entertaining and memorable shows.

"Another big draw for taking the role was having the chance of spending Christmas with the old man and the rest of the family, so being able to combine working in the North-east, which doesn't happen too often, with some quality family time was the perfect mixture."

Mark's unmistakable Teesside accent has cropped up on television screens countless times including in Eureka Street, Barbara, Clocking Off, Second Coming and Early Doors, as well as Mike Leigh's 1997 film Career Girls.

The former student of the old Sarah Metcalfe School and Stockton-Billingham Technical College first came to Teesside's attention with outstanding performances in productions by Stockton Youth Theatre. …