A NEW work by John Godber is always worth heralding. When the subject of that work is the Northern Soul scene, you know that it ‘s going to be something special.

Do I Love You? is the brand new production written by John which comes to Blackpool Grand Theatre next week as part of the show’s inaugural tour. It’s the story of three modern-day twenty-somethings who fall under the spell of Northern Soul music.

For John - a lifelong Northern Soul fan - it’s been very much a labour of love.

“I’m 68 now so I’m old enough to have been there the first time round,” said the writer behind modern classics such as Bouncer, Up and Under and Teechers.


“I never got to Wigan Casino but I did go to all-nighters in Scarborough, I went to Blackpool Tower. I had an interesting musical upbringing. I was part Northern Soul and part prog rock- one was one my head and the other was my heart but I’ve always really liked the music.”

The Northern Soul scene spawned its own tribe; enthusiasts would travel around the North to enjoy all-nighters often in working class towns. It was a movement which had its own music and its own style of dancing and it is a scene which is still very much alive today.

In talking to John about his new work the word authentic crops up in conversation a lot.

“With this we have a responsibility to the community around Northern Soul,” said John, “and the authenticity of that. That was quite important for us.

Messenger Newspapers: Do I Love You? (Picture: Ian Hodgson)

“I’ve been a fan of Northern Soul for a long time and I wouldn’t have gone into it if I didn’t think I could make a fist of it.”

The play opened last week and John was delighted when he was approached by Northern Soul fans after the show who said they felt it was in part a documentary.

“I don’t want that to put anyone off,” he laughed, “but it shows that what we are doing is authentic, it is true to the scene.

“Obviously the music is wonderful and we’ve been very lucky to have had specialised advice on the dancing which is itself a particular skill.”

John invited Sally Molloy, the reigning North Soul dancing world champion into rehearsals to work with the three-strong cast.

“I just wanted to make sure that everything felt right,” said John.”It looks so easy when you watch Sally dance but believe me, it’s not. They were knackered after four hours of rehearsing with her and these are fit kids.”

John has clearly been conscious of the responsibility anyone faces when taking the world of Northern Soul to a wider audience.

“It really is underground movement and that’s why I wanted to make sure we got it right,” he said. “I didn’t want to upset anyone’s sensibilities and leave them thinking ‘here’s a load of middle class people doing a play about Northern Soul.

“In spite of everything I’ve done I’m still a miner’s son from West Yorkshire. Take the OBE, the Baftas and the Oliver Awards out and I’m an 18 stone lad who worked down the pit.”

Do I Love You? is named after one of the most popular Northern Soul singles of all time by Frank Wilson.

“The show is written from point of view of three young people who work in a fast food place and become exposed to Northern Soul music and wonder what it’s about.” said John. “It’s about young graduates who can’t get jobs that they trained for and don’t want to go into teaching because it’s demoralising. They don’t want to go into the NHS because it’s on its knees and quite by accident they fall under the spell of Do I Love You? That’s the key to them finding out about the soul scene and themselves.”

As a lifelong fan how does John assess his own Northern Soul dancing skills.

“For an 18 stone bloke I was all right,” he said. “I tried it the other day but my dodgy knee wouldn’t hold out. I must confess I stayed firmly in my chair when Sally the world champion came to visit us.”

Do I Love You? Blackpool Grand Theatre, Tuesday, September 19 to Saturday, September 23. Details from www.blackpoolgrand.co.uk