If only we knew! A guest post by Michael Metcalf


This blog post follows Michael’s previous post which you can read here

Being in West Berlin and having recovered from travelling and filming in East Berlin we carried on with filming in West Berlin.

We filmed various people and bands in West Berlin.  One person who had become quite famous due to the release of a movie about the drug scene in Berlin in the 1970’s, following tape recordings of Christiane F.   At 14 although legally too young, she had asked a friend to take her to a new discotheque with the most modern equipment.  There she is exposed to the drug scene which ends up dominating her life.

Another highlight from the trip, was to have special relevance in the last couple of years.

It was decided that we would do a night shoot filming a band on the GLIENICKE BRIDGE which had famously been used as the place to exchange spies.

You could drive on the bridge from West Berlin and East Berlin but half way across was barriers – barbed wire etc to prevent you getting all the way across.  The East Berlin soldiers were constantly on the bridge to prevent people crossing or swimming across the river HAVEL.  The West Berlin soldiers (often Americans) would drive to the barrier and taunt the East German soldiers by playing with their ‘dog tags’.  This was meant to show that they (the Allies) would be eventually going home but the East Germans soldiers would be there for ever.

It was a very surreal experience filming a band with these images in the back ground.

Little did we know at the time that the movie BRIDGE OF SPIES would show this bridge as the place the Russians exchanged USA Spy Plane Pilot Gary Powers for Soviet Spy Colonel Rudolf Abel.

What makes the story even more unbelievable is that Rudolf Abel was actually born William Fisher at 140 Clara Street, Newcastle upon Tyne.  He was the son of revolutionary parents who fled tsarist oppression in Russia and settled in Tyneside.   William’s family later moved to Whitley Bay and he attended Whitley Bay High School.

How do I know all this, well another Tyne Tees Television Alumni – Vin Arthey wrote the book ‘The Kremlin’s Geordie Spy’ which became the backdrop of the movie.

It is a very small world!


Michael worked in television for over 30 years as a Director and Producer and was involved with The TUBE from the very beginning as a Production Assistant during filming and then subsequently directing part of series 4.

He is now retired from television and heavily involved in charity work. As well as being on the committee for the Make A Wish Foundation, he is an Ambassador and mentor for Northumbria Coalition Against Crime, Chairman of Newcastle East Sea Cadets and Junior Vice President of Ponteland Rotary.

Michael became involved with Discovery Museum when he joined three ex colleagues from Tyne Tees Television who also worked on the TUBE when they visited the museum to see the TUBE neon logo that was in storage. From that visit, the idea of the TUBE exhibition came into being.

An exhibition of items relating to the Tube, including the neon Tube sign, is on show at Discovery Museum until 30 June. More details. 

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