Unemployed people are securing work appearing in some of the country’s most popular TV shows – with some set to hit screens this weekend when ITV hit Vera returns.

Charity Reviving the Heart of the West End has joined forces with casting agency NE1 4.TV to train jobseekers how to be supporting artists, sometimes known ‘extras’.

Clients sign up for free, four-day ‘Ticbox’ courses – run by NE1 4.TV and which prepare participants for working on film and TV sets.

They are then helped to find work in productions filmed in the North East, including ‘Vera’, which kicks off on Sunday evening, as well as Netflix hit ‘Frontier’ and the new Ken Loach film, ‘Sorry We Missed You’.

Bessie Williams, creator of the Ticbox courses and owner of NE1 4.TV, the biggest casting agency in the North East, said: “We are all about getting people from a range of backgrounds onto TV.

“Thanks to our partnership with Reviving the Heart of the West End, the people who are attending these courses want to prove themselves and get back into work, and that is what Ticbox is offering.

“As well as giving unemployed people a route into the TV industry where there is a wide range of jobs and opportunities, Ticbox is doing wonders for their confidence and skillset so that they are more prepared for work regardless of industry.

“Anybody can come on a Ticbox course and train to be a supporting artist, but this free course for the unemployed is really making a difference to people who need that boost. We are very proud of the work we are doing and long may it continue!”

Reviving the Heart of the West End is a charity based in Benwell, which aims to get people into work.

Latest employment figures from the Office of National Statistics show employment at 71.3% in the North East for June-August 2018, the second lowest of any region across the UK.

The charity has been visiting Newcastle JobCentres and telling jobseekers about the Ticbox courses, and paying the cost for them to attend.

The first course, at John Buddle Work Village in Benwell in October, was a huge success with applicants going on to find TV and film work, and this has resulted in the charity and NE14.TV committing to running another course for jobseekers this month (November).

Syed Shah, 47, had been out of work for six years before signing up for a Ticbox course. Within days of finishing, he was spending two days on set with Brenda Blethyn filming ‘Vera’, and will appear in the new series in the fou.

He said: “The course was really useful. I knew nothing about the industry but now can get work as a supporting artist.

“I am also interested in the technical side of things, maybe I will try to get on a course to be a cameraman or an editor. It was a new experience in a new field and has opened up a new door for me.”

Charity manager Alex Johnson added: “People who have been through the course have really grown in self-confidence and felt empowered, and we are delighted that out of our first course many people have already secured work on local film sets.

“This confidence enables people to think about where they want to take their lives and how they can move forward into this industry, where there is a huge range of jobs available.

“All the feedback we have had has been so positive that we are going to be putting on another course for anyone across Newcastle who is not working at the moment and is looking to get into the film and TV industry.”

As well as helping to improve local employment rates, the Ticbox courses are part of an ongoing campaign from NE1 4.TV to bring more TV production companies and channels to the North East.

To find out more about NE1 4.TV and their Ticbox courses, head to www.NE14.TV. You can find them on social media at @NE14.TV or @ticboxTVcourses, and can email them at info@ne14.tv.

To see a promo video of the Ticbox courses, which stands for Television Industry Courses For All, please go to: https://vimeo.com/193599325 or https://vimeo.com/204893877 for the 1minute version or www.youtube.com/watch?v=u5NSS5J340A