Highway: The Tall Ships

Highway: The Tall Ships

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Belfast, Belfast docks, Belfast Harbour, Custom House Square, Sinclair Seaman's Church, St Joseph’s church




Transmission 26/08/1991


30min 40sec







Digitised as part of the UTV Archive Partnership Project (ITV, Northern Ireland Screen and PRONI)


Department for Communities, ITV, Public Record Office of Northern Ireland

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It is illegal to download, copy, print or otherwise utilise in any other form this material, without written consent from the copyright holder.


Sir Harry Secombe explores the docks of Belfast during the

Tall Ships event, interviewing organisers, participants and members of the

local community. 

Scenic shots of the magnificent ships "make for a pleasant sight", as Secombe sings John Mayfield's Sea Fever. It is of no surprise that the organisers "expect half a million people to visit the ships and share four days of celebration with their crews". Robin Dixon (Chairman of Northern Ireland's Tall Ships Council) explains that it really is a festival of "youth afloat", which benefits young people, as they learn to think on their feet and work as a team. 

Belfast has always had a connection with sailors, as can be seen in Saint Joseph's Church, which was built in 1879 as a parish for "seagoing people". Father Liam McCarthy, speaks to Secombe about how he and his Franciscan brothers, at the request of the bishop, brought this "lovely little place" back to life - in fact it is now a listed building! 

The concluding interview is with Walter Cronkite and Sam McAughtry, the pair sharing their memories of when the tall ships were working ships and "earned their keep". 



"We are the UK’s oldest and largest sail training charity, but becoming a sailor is not the only outcome. We are a youth development charity that helps young people redefine their horizons through adventure learning at sea." - Tall Ships

Shot List

Introduction to programme by Sir Harry Secombe [HS]; views of tall ships and stained glass windows. Images of tall ships and other boats in Belfast Lough. HS singing John Mayfield’s “Sea Fever”, with views of tall ships in water. Aerial views of crowds visiting ships. Interview with Chairman of Northern Ireland’s Tall Ships Council, Robin Dixon [RD]. Discussion of Cutty Sark Tall Ships Race and how it’s beneficial for young people. Discussion on crew activities on board. Views of the different ships in the race, including the Lord Nelson, and the prizes available to contestants. Drawing and overview of history of Belfast Harbour Commissioners and the Port of Belfast. Internal views of Custom House; discussion of architectural styles and stained glass windows. Renaissance Singers sing Alfred Lord Tennyson’s “Freshwater”. Overview of St Joseph’s church, Belfast. HS speaks with Father Liam McCarthy, discussing the decline of the local community around St Joseph’s, and how special the church is to the people. Fiona Lamont sings “Count Your Blessings. HS speaking with young people on why they like being involved with the tall ships. Interview with Alison Rogers, development director of the Sir Winston Churchill ship. HS on the ship Astrid, with Captain David Norman. Discussion on Astrid’s history. Barnbrack singing “Belfast”. Interview with Walter Cronkite and  Sam McAughtry on their love for tall ships, history of tall ships. Discussion on the future of these types of ships. Exterior and interior views of Sinclair Seaman’s church, Belfast. HS singing “Lead Us, Heavenly father, Lead Us”. Views of tall ships sailing.   


An Ulster Television production for ITV.

Executive Producer: Bill Ward 

Programme Assoiciate: Ronnie Cass

Produced and Directed by Bob Brien 

Presented by Sir Harry Secombe 



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