1. ITV Report

Sunderland's Northern Spire makes an appearance on Strictly

Faye Tozer and Giovanni Pernice rehearse their Foxtrot routine on the bridge deck. Photo: Sunderland City Council

Sunderland’s new Northern Spire bridge was thrown into the national limelight when it featured on Strictly Come Dancing.

The new bridge, which opened to traffic at the end of August, took centre stage as it hosted dancing favourites Faye Tozer and Giovanni Pernice during one of their rehearsal sessions.

The bridge, boasting its 105m-tall central pylon, was showcased during the BBC flagship show as actress and former Steps popstar Faye and Italian professional dancer Giovanni practiced their Foxtrot routine on the bridge deck.

Sunderland City Council invited the couple to be the first to dance on the new bridge to celebrate Faye’s connection to the city. Faye is married to a Sunderland businessman and lives just a few miles from Northern Spire.

On Tuesday afternoon this week, amid a veil of secrecy, the bridge was temporarily closed to allow the Strictly film crew to capture Faye and Giovanni practising their moves on the deck, directly under the pylon, which is the North East’s tallest structure.

The BBC had requested that their visit to Northern Spire be kept under wraps until the programme aired on Saturday night.

“I’m very proud and honoured to have had the experience of dancing across Northern Spire.

It’s a beautiful bridge and the views across Sunderland are pretty amazing. We have had a great time.”

– Faye Tozer
Credit: Sunderland City Council

"Sunderland is both delighted and honoured to have had Faye and Giovanni practising their routine on the deck of Northern Spire this week. We wholeheartedly thank them for taking time out of their busy schedules to come and see us.

They are both incredible dancers, so we feel sure they are going to go far in this year’s Strictly competition. I’m sure the whole of Sunderland will get behind them and vote them through each week, so they make it to the final in December.

It’s only right that they danced under Northern Spire’s impressive central pylon because the sky has to be the limit for them. It’s a fitting backdrop to a very talented couple.”

“We take road closures very seriously, and try to avoid them unless we have good reason. It’s not every week that one of the biggest shows on TV wants to come and film in your city, so we thought it was a wonderful opportunity to showcase our newest landmark, Northern Spire, to the rest of the country. The footage was amazing, so now everyone can see why we are so proud of it.”

– Leader of Sunderland City Council, Cllr Graeme Miller